### Strategies for Cultivating Resilient Children: Insights from an Ivy League Doctor

If you wish for your children to excel in a particular school subject, assisting them with their assignments or engaging a tutor is a common approach. However, fostering resilience, the ability to bounce back from setbacks and manage stress effectively, is a more intricate journey.

Aliza Pressman, a developmental psychologist and one of the founders of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center, delves into the realm of nurturing resilient children in her latest book, “The 5 Principles of Parenting: Your Essential Guide to Raising Good Humans.”

Rather than shielding children from life’s inevitable challenges, Pressman advocates for equipping them with the skills to navigate adversity. She metaphorically compares the parental role to teaching kids how to dress appropriately for various weather conditions instead of merely sheltering them from the elements.

In her book, Pressman introduces the concept of the “Five R’s” essential for cultivating resilience in children:

1. Relationships

Establishing strong relationships is pivotal in helping children develop the confidence to confront adversities. Pressman highlights three types of stress in her book:

  • Positive stress: Comparable to excitement, such stress can be beneficial for growth.
  • Tolerable stress: Arises from significant events like loss, manageable with the support of at least one caring relationship.
  • Toxic stress: Results from prolonged adversity without protective relationships, leading to severe responses.

Pressman emphasizes the significance of having a secure attachment with a caregiver to mitigate toxic stress towards tolerable levels.

2. Reflection

While dedicating 20 minutes for morning meditation may not be feasible for most parents, Pressman suggests incorporating micro-meditations throughout the day. Reflecting on your and your child’s needs enables thoughtful responses instead of impulsive reactions.

Encouraging moments of stillness, even during simple activities like a walk to the mailbox, can aid in intentional actions. Children observe and mimic their parents’ self-regulation, making it essential to model such behaviors.

3. Regulation

Children often mirror their parents’ behavior, as they “borrow” their nervous system. Teaching children to respond calmly to discomfort fosters resilience. Co-regulating with children, by staying composed and guiding them to breathe through challenges, helps enhance their self-regulation skills.

Pressman underscores the importance of pausing before reacting, allowing children to choose appropriate responses and strengthening their self-regulation abilities.

4. Rules

Pressman distinguishes between boundaries (self-imposed restrictions) and limits (behavioral restrictions), asserting that enforcing both creates a sense of security for children. Clear and consistent rules, when logically explained, provide children with a sense of predictability, reducing the need for constant vigilance.

Establishing boundaries with peers and family members encourages children to set their boundaries, fostering autonomy and confidence.

5. Repair

The concept of repair involves reinforcing relationships after conflicts, rather than merely correcting mistakes. Demonstrating empathy, love, and curiosity towards children rebuilds trust and connection post disagreements. Acknowledging distractions or lapses in attention and expressing genuine interest in children’s experiences fosters resilience by nurturing secure attachments.

Pressman emphasizes that the “Five R’s” are not linear steps but interconnected principles that parents can apply flexibly. The ultimate goal is not just to ensure children’s happiness but to strengthen the parent-child bond. When children feel supported and valued, they are better equipped to navigate life’s challenges resiliently.