Sunday, October 28, 2012

Warning: Hurricane Coming! How to deal with this and the storms of growing up

From CBS evening News
With Hurricane Sandy descending on the East coast of the USA over the next 24 hours, we have been busy preparing for the "perfect storm". 

In our house it is colliding with the deadline for the first round of college applications. (Nov 1- aaagh!).  It is also Halloween and unless you have taken a trip to another planet you probably know it is the last week of campaigning before the US election. At least the 24/7 news shows have something other than the election to talk about....

This time unlike the storm in the summer, we have had a few days notice before the onset of hurricane Sandy and so we have been able to put some precautions in place.

We have gathered together all our supplies in case we lose power (who am I kidding - of course we'll lose power!) - batteries, water, food that will last a few days without refrigeration. We have readied our freezer with extra ice and turned our fridge temperature down low. We have a few places Aron can go to work on finishing his college applications if our power fails. We have tied down our garden furniture and charged up all our electronics. We know to go down to the basement.

 Our preparations are not perfect but we feel comfortable and confident that we have done what we can and now we just have to sit back, enjoy being together as a family and wait out the storm with 60 million (according to ABC News) other people on the East Coast. 

As I have been writing this I have been thinking how similar  these preparations are to weathering the storms of childhood and adolescence and how as parents/ grandparents or in another loving adult role we best prepare our kids to cope. 

 How we do this is to teach them resilience.

Situations like this reiterate how important it is prepare our kids to handle the unexpected, give them the tools to cope with life's unexpected challenges and hopefully bounce back from tough, sad or uncertain times.We cannot protect our kids from all the bumps much as we cannot know what this storm is going to bring. But we can prepare them to face unexpected situations with courage, by including them in the planning and giving them responsibilities such as gathering the flashlights or tying down the garden furniture.

 Last week I went to hear Dr Kenneth Ginsburg  speak at PEP. He  is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the  University of Pennsylvania and practices adolescent medicine at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He spoke about building resilience in our children and why it is the biggest gift we can give them "in good and challenging times." These are some of the things I learned from him:-

  •  Resilience is about bouncing back from tough or sad or uncertain times.

  • It is about giving our children the space to take risks, fail and get back up again with support, but not by  fighting their battles for them.

  • It is about helping children and teenagers to swim through their personal storms,  but not carry them on our backs.

  •  It is about loving and believing in our kids constantly and unconditionally because they are ours but also holding them to high (but not impossible or perfect) moral and ethical standards and the expectation that they will put effort into their endeavors.

  • It is about helping our kids to acquire confidence by becoming competent, (not perfect) at something they are passionate about - sport, art, music or community service. (They achieve this competence through preparation, practice and praise of their actions not their results.)

  • It is about building character through tenacity, integrity, gratitude and self regulation.

We will  help our children and adolescents  build resilience by helping them acquire the tools to be functioning adults but then we have to sit back, enjoy their company, let them make mistakes, and wait out the storm just as we will be waiting out storm Sandy. (For more information about giving our loved ones the gift of resilience go to )

Take care, stay safe and dry.


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