>> living social
THE SCENARIO: Your son worked up the
nerve to ask a girl he liked to the eighth-grade dance—and she turned him down.
THE STRATEGY: Your ultimate aim is for
your child to have enough confidence
to get past no, but you also want him
to accept—and not be crushed by—the
reality that not everyone will like him.
“What he needs right now is empathy,”
says Vicki Hoefle, parent educator and
author of Duct Tape Parenting. “So resist
the urge to say something sweeping
like ‘Everyone loves you!’ That feels
comforting, but sends the message that
he won’t be in this situation again. This is
a great time for a conversation about how
life contains many more nos than yeses,
which only makes the yeses more sweet.”
FLIP YOUR SCRIP T: This is another situation
in which tolerating his pain—and giving
him perspective—helps him calm down
and do the same. Don’t trash-talk the
girl who rejected him. Why? Well, he
asked her because he liked her. But even
more important, you’ll ultimately be
undermining his self-confidence (and his
resilience) by instilling in him the notion
that it’s all someone else’s fault.
>>making the grade
THE SCENARIO: Your daughter has always loved her teachers, but this
year she’s complaining that one teacher is mean and unfair.
THE STRATEGY: You’re reaching for the phone to dial the
principal’s office, aren’t you? Wait. Once you’re sure
that there isn’t something egregious going on (the
teacher is humiliating students, for example),
talk to your daughter about exactly what bugs
her. “She’s mean” is general. “The teacher
doesn’t give clear directions” or “She
gives too many pop quizzes” are details
you can work with to brainstorm ways
to improve the situation. Maybe your
daughter can raise her hand and ask
more questions rather than sitting and
stewing. Or she can do a little extra
prep to be ready for a pop quiz.
FLIP YOUR SCRIP T: It’s hard to say
no when your child is asking (or
begging) you to work your magic.
But part of being successful in the
working world is learning how to
cope with all kinds of people, and
often that means figuring out how to
tweak your behavior to function more
smoothly in certain situations.
>> teaming up
THE SCENARIO: Your high school
freshman wants to quit the sport she’s
been playing since she was a kid.
THE STRATEGY: First, discuss her choice.
Ask why she wants to quit and what
changed. If she proves her decision isn’t
capricious, respect it. “Teens are always
saying, ‘My parents don’t listen,’ and
often that’s accurate,” Levine says. We
jump in so fast with our reasoning that
we stop hearing theirs.
FLIP YOUR SCRIP T: Validating her thinking
shows that you trust she can make good
decisions. You’re there to guide your
children to the best possible decisions,
but ultimately you have to step back and
let them make their own choices. It’s
part of what adolescence is all about:
separating from family and developing
your own voice.
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THE SELF-ESTEEM MOVEMENT,
research now shows, has actually shortchanged kids, leaving them
high on gold stars but low on the kind of resilience that helps them
bounce back when they don’t score a goal, ace a test, or get a part
in the play. And not equipping kids to handle adversity can lead to
more than disappointment. In one study, Stanford researcher Carol
Dweck, Ph.D., found that kids whose parents praised them for
being smart didn’t do as well in school as children whose parents
praised them for their effort.
So what should you do to build resilience in your child? Resilience grows, Levine says, when children experiment, take risks,
make mistakes, get hurt, feel disappointed (sometimes bitterly so),
and then figure out—mostly on their own—how to recover.
Think of it as the opposite of helicopter parenting. To help
retrain (and restrain) yourself, flip your thinking, says Tamar
Chansky, Ph.D., author of Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking.
“Stepping in to fix every dilemma doesn’t give children an advan-
tage,” she says. “It actually stops them from learning how to handle
What kind of situations might that be? We’ve got some right
here: typical school dramas where you might be tempted to swoop
in and save the day. Instead, we give you advice on how to stop,
look, and listen to what’s really going on, so you can help your child
find her way through an upset—and to a happy, successful life.