Helping children hone their strengths and pursue their hobbies can make them more resilient to stress or challenges, according to an expert.

“We want a child with confidence, and… confidence is highly correlated with success and performance,” educational psychologist Michele Borba said at a forum on March 21. “Confidence means you can also accept your weaknesses.”  

Parents can increase their children’s resilience by appreciating their strengths and encouraging hobbies, she noted.

“Watch when they’re a little more eager, more focused,” she said at the event organized by Parents for Education Foundation, Inc. (PAREF) in partnership with Xepto Education. “That’s a natural strength. Start nurturing it.” 

Hobbies, moreover, can reduce stress and help them cope with life’s challenges.  

Our youth are most significant demographic we have in society, and “families are the most important factor in the development of our youth,” according to Danny M. Moran, PAREF chairman and president.  

“What we do today, what we do for them…, and how we deal with them will have a major impact on the nation’s future,” Mr. Moran said. 

Over-parenting, which means taking over a task when a child feels stuck, does not also bode well in character formation.  

“The one thing wrong about problem solving is that we rescue the child, instead of allowing him to do it [solve the problem] himself,” Ms. Borba said.  

Brainstorm instead with the child and cross off options that are unsafe or irresponsible, she said. 

“Every time you do this with a child, you’re helping that child do the skill without you,” she said.  

Grit and perseverance, Ms. Borba added, is contingent upon having a growth mindset.  

“A growth mindset is the mindset that says it’s my effort that makes a difference,” she said. 

Children who are praised for their intelligence or talents are not motivated to learn, a Standford University professor in psychology found in 2015. It is those who are praised for the process they engage in (such as focus and persistence) who become better learners.   

The more the mothers gave their children “process praise” when they were toddlers, Standford scholar Carol Dweck found, the more the children had a growth mindset and a desire for challenges five years on. The better they also were in math and reading in fourth grade.  

There is no rewind button in parenting, making it important to communicate to build relationships now, Ms. Borba said.

Relationships are developed, created, maintained, and altered through communication, per a July 2021 post on Psychology Today.   

“When stress goes up, conversations go down,” Ms. Borba added, “so recognize what [your child is] feeling at the moment.”  

“Talk about emotions. If you’re having difficulties with conversations, get out the board games,” she said. “When kids know you’re relaxed and they’re relaxed, life goes on much better.” — Patricia B. Mirasol