In 2010 Ellen Galinsky (president and cofounder of the Families and Work Institute) released a book and video series Mind in the Making. The information addressed was meant of provide research and offer concrete skills which parents could use to better produce environments that our children would thrive in. In 2013 the NAMC was chosen as a grant recipient to help translate Ellen Galinsky’s book and video series into discussion guides for our membership. The resulting discussion guides have now been utilized in multiple Mothers’ Center groups across the nation.
Below is the sixth in a series of 7 posts exploring the Mind-in-the Making Curriculum.
Be sure to also read Part 1: Focus and Self Control, Part 2: Perspective Taking, Part 3: Communicating,
Part 4: Making Connections and Part 5: Critical Thinking.
Essential Life Skill 6: Taking on Challenges
I could hear the distant sound of little fingers playing not-quite-perfected piano notes as I turned my hair dryer off. I glanced up at the clock. Don’t-panic-don’t-panic-don’t-panic I said to myself again and again.*
*Sometimes, if I repeat something enough, I actually begin to believe it.
School mornings in our home are action-packed. A successful morning relies on good timing, and there is not much room for error. When carried out correctly—they are a beautiful, poetic dance… BUT, one miss-step could throw the whole morning off.
Three kids equals:
- 3 breakfasts to make. 3 book bags to prepare. 3 beds to be made.
- Lots and lots of teeth to be brushed. Hair to be combed. And arguments to be diverted.
- There’s spelling and piano practice and teacher notes and reading.
And that’s just the kids, let’s not forget about getting yourself ready.
It can be (to say the very least) challenging.
On this particular Monday morning I was starting to panic because I was NO WHERE near ready myself. At the very moment I thought nothing else could make my manic Monday morning harder, I remembered:
OH. MY. GOSH. We have to be to school early for safety guards.
In my anxiety, I turned to race towards my closet to finish dressing and was met by a mirror image of anxiety. Not my own image reflected on the bathroom mirror, the image of my daughter.
“MOM. I LOST MY CONTACT.” My daughter said, trembling and upset.
The sixth skill that Ellen Galinsky’s Mind in the Making book discusses is taking on challenges. Part of this skill’s description focuses on being resilient in the face of stress…
Resilient in the face of stress? Me? Not so much!
Picture this: Me, frantically scouring the bathroom floor, sink and mirror inch-by-inch in search of a tiny, clear, chameleon-like spectacle with my arm blocking the door shouting “Don’t step anywhere” as the minutes quickly ticked closer to our must-leave departure time.
The anxiety and stressful look in my face said it all.
LIFE SKILL 6: TAKING ON CHALLENGES
Skill Description: Being resilient in the face of stress, trying new experiences, being proactive in standing up to difficulties.
Research Says: Stress caused by everyday challenges are a positive and an essential feature of healthy development in children. Even the impact of more severe stress is not necessarily negative and often depends on: how long a severe stress lasts and weather there are supportive adults to help the child cope and recover. Other people’s nonverbal communication (i.e., facial expressions) can play a big part in how children respond to fearful situations.
What Parents Can Do To Improve This Skill:
- Be aware of how you are communicating stressful experiences to children, as they will “read” and respond to your anxiety
- Get support. Parents without people to turn to for help when facing challenges are less able to help their children with challenges
- Praise children’s efforts not their personality (Example: “You are working hard!” vs. “You are so smart!”). By doing this your children are more likely to take on challenges
Bottom Line: If we dwell on what the child can’t do—the child‟s inadequacies will likely proliferate. If we focus on what the child can do—the child‟s strengths will likely be fortified.
Yes. The look in my anxiety-ridden face said it all—reflecting my apparent stress of our not-so-beautiful, not-so-poetic morning rush dance. Again, I saw my own anxiety mimicked through my daughter’s emotions, a mirror image of myself.
In the end, disaster was diverted just in the nick of time. (Quite humorously, my daughter’s contact was found tangled in her hair.)
I grabbed a hairbrush for myself (avoiding my own un-groomed reflection in the mirror), reached for my coat, began herding everyone into the van, secured seat belts, made two extra trips back into the house to gather missing items and finally slumped my sweaty self in the driver side of the van before backing out of the driveway to get my daughter to her safety guard responsibility.
Suddenly, I couldn’t help it… all the anxiety, panic, craziness and rushing made me…
Burst out with laughter.
Suddenly everything seemed so comical.
“Stress caused by everyday challenges
are a positive and an essential feature of
healthy development in children.”
I am saved by this research statement above. Life skill #6: Taking on Challenges—Check! I’ve got that one covered. (And then some!)
Leave a Comment: What does your “morning dance” look like? In what ways do you address the life skill of Taking on Challenges with your children?
Did you Know…
The NAMC provides Mothers’ Center group members with access to Group Discussion Guides meant to encourage reflection and conversation. The previous post was inspired by the Mind in the Making Discussion Guide and Curriculum. To download this guide and others, visit the members only section of the NAMC website. Not a member? Learn more about the Mothers’ Center and it’s unique culture by downloading our New Group Start-up Guide here!