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Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I have written recently to inform parents about substance abuse among teens. Research shows us that young people turn to alcohol or drugs due to a lack of ability to cope or to solve the complex problems that life brings along. Students have told me that it's sometimes a challenge to endure all of the changes they are undergoing in middle school. The question remains: how can we help our kids become more resilient? How can we become more resilient as adults so that we are up to the task of managing and monitoring the behavior of a middle school student?

I came across an article on building resilience. Harvard Business Review writer Jane McGonigal suffered a traumatic brain injury and became interested in the science of resilience. Her article explains 4 ways to become a more resourceful problem solver. These are simple suggestions that anyone can put into action.

Four Ways to be a more Resourceful Problem Solver:

1. PHYSICAL: get up from your computer and move around for a few moments every hour.

2. MENTAL: perform mildly challenging tasks like counting backwards from 100 by sevens.

3. EMOTIONAL: experience three positive emotions for each negative one each day.

4. SOCIAL: send a thank-you note or hold a handshake a little longer.

I shared these with my 90 year old mother, Caterina, aka Nonna Kiki, over the phone (she lives in Mesa). I asked her to think about these 4 areas. She says she has always done #1 and #4. #1, she believes has taken her into her 90th year. #4 is an automatic for her because she was born (in 1922) in an era where everyone wrote thank you notes and gave warm handshakes. She thinks #3 is very challenging because she has issues with chronic pain. For the next month, we are both going to work on #3 and talk about our progress.

Share these Four Ways with your student or with another member of your family. Choose one. Work on it together. Life's challenges are best when shared with people you love.

"Building Resilience by Wasting Time" by Jane McGonigal in Harvard Business Review, October 2012 (Vol. 90#10, p. 38).

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