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Paul Tough speaks about character and adversity

In spite of the weather, over 600 parents, educators and community members heard Paul Tough speak on the power of character and the importance of teaching non-cognitive (character) skills to our children - both in school and in our families.

Tough's book made clear the positive difference that strong character can have on an individual's happiness and success in life. He made a credible case using research and facts. One of the next steps is to determine how we as parents go about building these character traits. At LINK's community coffee on Wednesday morning, we talked at length about how to teach our kids to overcome adversity and instill character traits such as self-control, grit and optimism.

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Paul Tough talked about the two stages of development where parents have the most influence on character development in their children. The first is during infancy (birth to age 2) when it is critical to protect kids from constant or toxic stress. Comforting and nurturing them when they need us - even after a traumatic event - has lasting impact on their character development as teens & adults.

The second is adolescence. In this stage of development, teens need to learn how to manage adversity. They must learn to solve their own problems, overcome obstacles and realize that they have the skills to take on risks and challenges as adults. As parents, our role shifts from problem-solvers to sounding boards and listeners.

Just when our kids face the scariest decisions, crave taking risks and it appears that any misstep can be devastating to their future, we are expected to loosen the reins. How is this possible? Neither Tough nor the parents at the coffee had a single, easy answer but by leaning on each other, sharing our parenting challenges and successes, we can learn from one another. It also helps to consult some 'experts.' The LINK Books section highlights many nationally-known psychologists and parenting experts (some of whom have visited Barrington in the past).

Here are few reading suggestions:

Dr. Madeline Levine, "The Price of Privilege or Teach Your Children Well"

Dr. Michael Riera, "Staying Connected to Your Teenager"

Dr. Carol Dweck, "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success"

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