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Strength-based parenting can help children deal with stress, study says
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A recently released study found that strength-based parenting, where parents find and deliberately work to build their children's strengths, can help children better cope with stress and become more resilient. - photo by Mandy Morgan
Strength-based parenting could be one of the keys to helping children better cope with stress and become more resilient, according to a recent study published in the journal Psychology.

The study, out of the University of Melbourne, looked at how strength-based parenting can help children learn to deal with the stress of trying to face and overcome weaknesses.

This parenting approach means parents deliberately find and cultivate positive states, processes and qualities in their children, said Lea Waters, the researcher of the study, in a press release.

Parents find strengths and help their children develop those strengths, even if that involves stress on the child's part. However, this in turn strengthens the child's ability to deal with stress and become more resilient, the study found.

"While some stress such as toxic stress caused by a long-lasting intense negative experience can have a debilitating effect on the well-being of children, not all stress is bad or damaging," said Waters. "Positive stress is a normal part of the developmental process. When managed well, it has the potential to help children learn, grow and adapt."

The paper looks into yet another parenting approach that parents can try using, which "adds a 'positive filter' to the way a child reacts to stress," Waters said. "It also limits the likelihood of children using avoidance or aggressive coping responses."

One mother from San Antonio shared her thoughts on her use of strength-based parenting in her blog on parenting advice last September.

"Rob and I really embraced this concept, not just at work, but also at home focus on strengths, foster the good," Maggie wrote on the Alamo City Mom's Blog. "Don't worry this isn't a touchy-feely, no consequences, only focus on the positives kind of thing. Rather, it is an intentional development of our kids' strengths."

She goes on to share some ways that her family uses the strength-based parenting approach:

  1. Promote a positive self-concept.
  2. Set them up for success.
  3. Catch them doing a good job.
  4. Focus on their innate goodness.
  5. Develop a sense of family pride.
  6. Promote a positive inner-monologue.
  7. Give them a chance to shine.
Charlie Appelstein, a social worker advocate of strength-based parenting, outlines the basic ways to practice the approach in this way:

"Verbal interventions that positively inform child development; strategies for enhancing self-esteem in children and youth; the importance of being developmentally aware; the do's and don'ts of respectful limit-setting; and the importance of managing number one (keeping your cool!) and building strong support networks," she said in her training DVD for parents.