Teaching Kids Resilience

“Economists refer to these as noncognitive skills, psychologists call them personality traits, and the rest of us sometimes think of them as character.” These are words from Paul Tough’s most recent book where he describes the traits that may be more important than intelligence when it comes to succeeding in life.

LSS Mentoring Services will offer a training based on the book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character.In this book, Tough writes about his interviews with professionals from a variety of different fields including economists, neuroscientists, psychologists and medical doctors; they all might not be working together but they seem to all be coming to similar conclusions. The New York Times review of the book can be found here.

Over the years, a belief has developed in our schools and communities that the most important skills for children to learn are those that are cognitive and can be measured on IQ tests, like ones related to reading and math. What these professionals (including many researchers) have uncovered is that these are not the most important skills for children to learn and that this intense focus on intelligence is actually limiting how far kids are able to go in life.

Instead, it has been found that the strongest predictors of success actually come from character traits. Many have come to the conclusion that even if a child does not receive straight A’s, if s/he possesses large amounts of self-control, optimism and grit, s/he has a stronger likelihood of being successful in life. It is one thing to be smart enough to get into college but it’s another thing to have the determination and self-control to finish all four years and receive that diploma.

Something even more exciting (and relevant for mentors) is that these character traits can be taught. Caregivers, teachers and mentors alike all have the ability to help a child develop these traits. Another topic that Tough explores is the significance of emotional support for children in helping to grow resilience; something that mentors also can help with! In this training we will reflect on these various research findings and look at ways we can help prepare our mentees for a life of success.

The training will be offered July 10 OR July 15, 12-1 PM at the LSS Center for Children & Youth (621 E Presentation Street).

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