by Carey Davidson
It was 9:27am on Tuesday, September 4th. Maddie was barely two hours into her first day of 11th grade and she was already calling me in a panic.
“I’m not going to be able to do this, Mom. I had one period of physics and I know I’m going to fail. I just know it. Mom, what am I going to do?”
I was 27 minutes into my first meeting of the morning. Meetings tend to be prime time for my kids to call with the crisis of the moment. This day was no exception.
“Maddie. Find your breath.” Her effort to take back control of her breathing was audible. My heart broke for her. My kids know my conflict resolution mantra by now – nothing gets solved in panic mode.
Maddie struggled to stay with me and I mouthed a pleading “sorry…” to the woman in my office who had come to talk shop.
We’re now two months in and some things have improved, others haven’t.
Last night was college night at Maddie’s high school. The head of college counseling addressed the crowd of roughly 200 parents on admissions testing, financial aid and application essay writing. Maddie is child number three in my family. We’ve been through this before and my attention waned.
About 15 minutes in to the presentation a bar graph was projected up on the screen. I was drawn to a label under two separate bars, both entitled, “Mental Health.” It was a “You had me at hello,” moment for me. I love that we’re talking about this in high school.
“We asked kids and their parents separately to rank in order of importance nine different common high school concerns. We compared your answers to your kids’ answers and found an alarming, yet common trend.
“Parents ranked mental health number one. Kids marked it number seven.”
A recent New York Times article exposes the epidemic rise in college student depression, anxiety, eating disorders and the corresponding physical manifestations of these mental health issues. This all begs the question –
What Are We Doing to Prepare Our Kids for a Successful Life???
…which begs question number two, “What is the foundational skill that will help our kids succeed in school and at work?”
Those of you who know me know I don’t mess around putting Band Aids on symptoms. I’m a root cause woman, so I’ve dived deep into this one.
The number one skill we all need is not part of any curriculum. The lack of this skill has us back-peddling in universities, in our offices, in places of worship and across the political landscape. This skill is Dealing With Difficulty – with failure, with challenge.
What do you do when you are disappointed? In my practice I have yet to meet a person who has been taught at any point in their lives a solid strategy for self-awareness and self-regulation.
We all need a radically new way to ensure our physical and emotional success so that we can become well functioning adults.
Three years ago, my dear friends and I built a non-profit called Tournesol Kids to empower parents, educators and kids with the three key skills science knows are predictors of better health and greater success. I also created a corporate program to make sure adults in the workplace have access to these tools. The three skills are:
1. Healthy self-awareness
3. Self-regulation / problem solving
By working on these skills regularly you’ll be better prepared with a firm foundation of resilience in the face of day to day stress. You’ll also have go-to strategies to deal with triggers in the moment. For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.