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How To Toughen Up

Dec 15, 2014

5 things every parent should know about teaching their kids how to toughen up and how to be resilient.

1. Have Kids Help Other Kids. Children feel a sense of pride when they help others. Dr. Robert Brooks says that children begin to feel that “because I’m on this earth, this earth is a better place”. Often helping others leads to self-gratitude and a boost in self-esteem.

2. Know the difference between Empathy and Enabling. It is wonderful to empathize with your child. However, do not atmosphere in which your child feels he or she cannot face issues alone. Give suggestions about how to deal with problems such as bad grades, bullying, or losing in sports. But do not fight a child’s battles for him/her.

3. Authoritative Discipline. A resilient child understands that there are consequences to poor actions. Dr. Robert Brooks says that Authoritative Parents set firm limits and do not negotiate the terms. Rather, they stress the fact that every child has a choice about what to do and how to behave, and the result of that choice is dependent upon the child. Authoritative Discipline results in a child having self-discipline.

4. Communicate! Having an open line of discussion with your child is important. You want your child to feel comfortable to talk to you and trust that you will both listen and try to understand. It is important for parents to ask questions, say experts Stephen Gray Wallace and Dr. Chris Fulton. This will help you not only gauge what is going on in your child’s life but also help keep the line of communication open and help your child talk and work through personal issues as they arise.

5. Problem-Solving. You have to be a positive model for your child. “One of the main characteristics of resilient kids is they view problems as things to solve rather than be overwhelmed by,” says Robert Brooks, PhD. As a parent you need to model the idea that mistakes are not the end-all-be-all and that every problem has a solution.


For More information on how to toughen up check out these expert-videos:

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Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed
School Psychologist & Author

About Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed

Stephen Gray Wallace, M.S. Ed., is president and director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE), a national collaborative of institutions and organizations committed to increasing favorable youth outcomes and reducing risk. He is a consultant to summer camps on staff training and teen leadership programming and has broad experience as a school psychologist and adolescent/family counselor. Stephen is a member of the professional development faculty at the American Academy of Family Physicians and American Camp Association and a parenting expert at, NBC News Learn and WebMD. He is also an expert partner at RANE (Risk Assistance Network & Exchange) and was national chairman and chief executive officer at SADD for more than 15 years. Additional information about Stephen’s work can be found at
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