Sunday, August 16, 2009

Stressed Family, Strong Family: Chapter 1, Part 1

I'll copy here the first part of the first chapter of Stressed Family, Strong Family.
In about a week I'll post the second part of chapter 1.
The third part will appear about a week after that.
Hope to see you back.

The list of abilities of a resilient child, teen or adult starts below at "What a Resilient Child Ought to be Able to Say."

When the tide comes in, these kids will use
their resilience to cope with the loss of a project!

CHAPTER 1: THE CIVITAN RESILIENCE IDEAS: “I HAVE, I AM, I CAN”

Use this chapter on the Civitan List
· For a fast look at what we mean by resilience (to cope with stresses and crises in a resilient way, kids should have most of the traits described in the list)
· To learn what people in many countries say their kids need in order to be resilient
· To help kids to handle stress better by developing those resilient traits, abilities, and supports

Background of the Civitan List
The Civitan International Research Center at the University of Alabama asked parents and older kids in thirty countries:
What do kids need in order to cope with stress and hardship?
The group then put together the answers they got from fourteen of those countries: Lithuania, Russia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Brazil, Thailand, Vietnam, Hungary, Taiwan, Namibia, Sudan, Canada, South Africa, and Japan.
What’s useful in this study? The list is short, the ideas are clear. The concepts come from a wide range of counties.
The group reports their ideas this way. A child or teen who’s coping well should be able to say the things in the lists below (I’ve adapted some items and added a few):

What a Resilient Child Ought to be Able to Say
(See discussion below for ideas you can try if you want to help increase resilience)

I HAVE (repeat the words I HAVE at the start of each item)
· People around me I trust. They love me, no matter what.
I HAVE
· People who set limits (make rules) for me so I know when to stop before there is danger or trouble
I HAVE
· People who show me how to do things right, by the way they do things
I HAVE
· People who want me to learn to do things on my own
I HAVE
· People who help me when I am sick, in danger or need to learn. (Kids need to be protected by health, education, welfare, and legal services.)
I added these next items. Professor Edith Grotberg, leader of the study, mentions similar additional items to these:
I HAVE
· Been lucky and not had many bad things happen to me, or
I HAVE
. Gotten stronger by going through bad times
And
I HAVE
. A faith that helps me go through bad times and still feel OK

Scroll down for a repeat of this list with suggestions for helping youth when they need it. Or take a minute to read these comments on the items:

Grotberg writes: “The child feels a sense of right and wrong, believes right will win, and wants to contribute to this. The child has confidence and faith in morality and goodness, and may express this as a belief in God or higher spiritual being.”

Why Do These Things Matter?
These I HAVE items describe kids who live with caring, firm, adults. The adults teach independence but don’t leave kids too much on their own. The adults teach kids right from wrong. They praise and thank them for doing the right thing. When kids break a rule, the punishment is fair and not harmful. Parents or teachers don’t beat the kids, call them bad names, or swear at them. No one else is allowed to harm the child. (Studies in many cultures show that praise works better for most kids than punishment.)

The caring you show as an adult
is a beacon your son or daughter can
follow for a lifetime.

How Can You Support These Qualities

NOTE: You may need to keep trying some of these ideas for weeks or months. Don’t give up if you don’t see change right away! You don’t need to work on all these items. Pick one or two that seem most important to you.

For the "I HAVE" Items

DOs, DON’Ts, and QUESTIONS
(Write down the answers so you can review them later.)
The resilience items are printed in bold type.

I HAVE People around me I trust. They love me, no matter what

DO: Ask reasons for mistrust. (Did the youth not get help in a past crisis? Did someone betray a child’s secret after promising to keep it?) DO: Encourage asking for help. DO: Use words the child can understand.
DON’T: Lie to a child. Tell them as much of the truth about any situation or crisis as they can grasp.

I HAVE People who set limits (make rules) for me so I know when to stop before there is danger or trouble

DO: Discuss family or classroom rules with kids. Are any unclear or unfair? Are parents or teachers too lax? Do they reward fairly?
DON’T: Argue with the other parent about rules. Find common ground you can agree on. DON’T: Say you will reward and not follow through.
DON’T: Hit, beat, swear, or make fun of kids when they do something wrong.

I HAVE People who show me how to do things right, by the way they do things

DO: Disclose your adult feelings, thoughts, and plans in a crisis. You will help kids learn how to cope. DO: Share feelings, thoughts, and plans when not in crisis. (Some cultures oppose this.) DO: Explain why adults decided on the path they chose. DO: Discuss right and wrong things to do.
DON’T: lie and cheat as adults; you won’t be teaching honesty to kids. (However, in some dire emergencies you may need to lie to save your life. You will need to decide when.)

I HAVE People who want me to learn to do things on my own

DO: give child chance to do things on his or her own. DO discuss: Family too strict? Not allow enough freedom? Rules of society too strict? (Especially a problem for girls in some countries) DON’T: Make fun of a child’s failures when they try to cope.

I HAVE People who help me when I am sick, in danger or need to learn (Kids need to be protected by health, education, welfare, and legal services.)

DO ask: Does this family fail to care for one another? When? Why? DO ask: Does the family have too many problems at once? Are they too exhausted, oppressed or frightened about future? DO ask about: Lack of school, clinic, health worker? Not available to poor people? DO ask self: Does community need to organize to improve services? Can you help with this effort?

I HAVE Been lucky and not had many bad things happen to me. OR: (see next item)

DO ask: Did “luck” actually come from family’s skill in protecting own health, preventing accidents, etc.? DO ask: Does “luck” mean having enough money to protect health, prevent accidents? DO ask: Can you rely on community’s health and safety services?

I HAVE Gotten stronger by going through bad times.

DO: Discuss who helped in the bad time. DO ask: Who taught you how to cope? DO ask: Who or what will help in future? Better plans? Saving money? Stopping arguments? DO ask: Which relatives, neighbors, others can help?

I HAVE A faith that helps me get through bad times and still feel OK.

ADULTS ASK YOURSELVES: Have you given up hope? Why? How can you regain it? DO locate leaders, teachers and others who show hope and confidence. DO: Find sayings, stories, poems, songs to inspire hope. Examples: a saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” [to solve problems.] A song, “We Shall Overcome”

That's the end of this first excerpt from Chapter 1 of Stressed Family, Strong Family.
The second set of resilience items will appear in about a week.

I hope to see you back!

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