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What the heck is going on with young people?







By Michael Hawton

29th May, 2019

Currently three members of our family or close friends have young adult children who are facing significant mental health problems. It seems that anxiety, depression and a general sense of young people and children not being able to cope is widespread in our community. How can we build resilience in children and youth?

I suppose the big question is why are these trends occurring? Is there something we can do as a society, or as parents, to help young people cope better with the challenges life throws at them? How can we develop resilience in children?

It occurs to me that our comfortable life can sometimes lull us into thinking that things will always be easy and we won’t have to face frustration, hardship and pain. Perhaps we could be doing more to help our children and young people learn to cope with the inevitable setbacks they will face in life.

In order to do this, perhaps we could do the following things:

  1. We need to teach our kids to be tolerant of difference and to realise that someone holding a different opinion to us is not an attack on our way of life. We can help them to be strong in themselves and in their own values but to also to tolerate others with different views and values.

  2. We can empower our children to problem solve and work to resolve differences and disagreements in a constructive way.

  3. We can help our kids to take the focus off themselves occasionally and be aware of how other people live. Contributing to a community event or volunteering are great ways for young people to recognise the bigger picture. Narcissism is on the rise and it leads to mental fragility.

  4. We can also give our kids the message that although some parts of life are uncomfortable, sad, painful of challenging, this is normal and it is possible to get through this. We can teach them to draw on their internal strength and the support of their family and community to survive these challenges.

I believe we need to build and develop resilience thinking skills in children so they feel courage when faced with challenges and hold on to self-belief when they feel attacked.  As parents, educators and mentors, we can teach our children how to weather the inevitable storms, which will come their way and also to stand up for themselves in appropriate ways.

Developing the ability to stand up for yourself when appropriate includes knowing how to summon up some mental toughness. It might be having a stern word to yourself. It can be as simple as shaking yourself out of complacency or it might be taking definite steps to deal with the normal sadness or frustration that befalls us all, at times.

As you know I have been developing our new course called No Scaredy Cats to help counter the apparent brittleness in children and young people. My view is that by training teachers, child and family specialists and early educators we can assist parents to develop robustification (yes, it’s a real word!) and resilience in children.

I am not the only one who is on this bandwagon, Amy Morin has this advice to share with parents in an effort to build resilience and mental toughness in children.

For Amy's tips on parenting article click here.

For more information on No Scaredy Cats click here.

About the author

Michael Hawton is the founder of Parentshop, providing education and resources for parents and industry professionals working with children. He has authored two books on child behaviour management: Talk Less Listen More and Engaging Adolescents.


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