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A version of this chapter appears in the Handbook of Resilience in Children edited - page 16 / 18

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R. Brooks:  The Power of Parenting                                                                              

are punished for countless behaviors, if parents are constantly telling them what to do in an arbitrary manner, then the positive effects of discipline will be lost.

Rely when Possible on Natural and Logical Consequences.  Children must learn that there are consequences for their behavior.  It is best if these consequences are not harsh or arbitrary and are based on discussions that parents have had with their children.  Discipline rooted in natural and logical consequences can be very effective.  Natural consequences are those that result from a child’s actions without parents having to enforce them such as a child having a bicycle stolen because it was not placed in the garage.  While logical consequences sometimes overlap with natural consequences, logical consequences involve some action taken on the part of parents in response to their child’s behavior.  Thus, if the child whose bicycle was stolen asked parents for money to purchase a new bicycle, a logical consequence would be for the parents to help the child figure out how to earn the money needed to pay for the new bicycle.

Positive Feedback and Encouragement Are Often the Most Powerful Forms of Discipline.  Although most of the questions I am asked about discipline focus on negative consequences or punishment, it is important to appreciate the impact of positive feedback and encouragement as disciplinary approaches.  Parents should “catch their children doing things right” and let them know when they do.  Children crave the attention of their parents.  It makes more sense to provide this attention for positive rather than negative behaviors.  Well-timed positive feedback and expressions of encouragement and love are more valuable to children’s self-esteem and resilience than stars or stickers.  When children feel loved and appreciated, when they receive encouragement and support, they are less likely to engage in negative behaviors.  

Concluding Remark

Research may never be able to assign a precise percentage to capture the impact of a parent on a child’s development.  However, as noted earlier, whatever the percentage, we know that the day-to-day interactions parents have with their children are influential in determining the quality of lives that their children will lead.  Parents can serve as charismatic adults to their children.  They can assume this role by understanding and fortifying in their children the different characteristics of a resilient mindset, by believing in them, by conveying unconditional love, and by providing them with opportunities that reinforce their islands of competence and feelings of self-worth and dignity.  Nurturing resilience is an immeasurable, lifelong gift parents can offer their children.  It is part of a parent’s legacy to the next generation.

References

Beardslee, W.R. & Podorefsky, D.  (1988).  Resilient adolescents whose parents have

serious affective and other psychiatric disorders: Importance of self-understanding

and relationships.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 63-69.

Brooks, R.  (1991)  The self-esteem teacher.  Loveland, OH: Treehaus Communications.

Brooks, R.  (1994).  Children at risk: Fostering hope and resilience.  American Journal of

Orthopsychiatry, 64, 545-553.

Brooks, R.  (1998).  Parenting a child with learning disabilities: Strategies for fostering

self-esteem, motivation, and resilience.  In T. Citro (Ed.), The experts speak:

Parenting a child with Learning Disabilities (pp. 25-45).  Waltham, MA:

Learning Disabilities Association of Massachusetts.

Brooks, R. & Goldstein, S.  (2001).  Raising resilient children: Fostering strength, hope,

and optimism in your child.  New York: Contemporary Books.

Brooks, R. & Goldstein, S.  (2003).  Nurturing resilience in our children.  Answers to

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