Get every episode delivered automatically!

Episode summary:

In this important conversation, Susan and Dr. Michele Borba talk about Michele's new book, Thrivers: Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine. Michele shares the essential skills that parent can help their kids cultivate to thrive in the face of stress, anxiety, and pressure in today's world.

Michele Borba, Ed.D. is an internationally renowned parenting expert recognized for her solution-based strategies to strengthen children’s character and resilience, and reduce peer cruelty. She is has appeared 150 times on the TODAY show and has been featured in TIME, Washington Post, Newsweek, People, Boston Globe, NY Times and many more publications. She has written 24 award-winning books, including UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World and Thrivers: Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine.
micheleborba.com


Things you'll learn from this episode:

adjust
Why thrivers are made -- not born!
adjust
The reason that GPA and IQ scores are not indicators of how well children will do in adulthood
adjust

The seven teachable skills that help parents raise raise a whole child -- one with a strong mind, heart and will

adjust

To learn about my Master Class with Michele on Raising Thrivers, visit this page.

Stay up to date!

Would you like to receive free parenting articles, practical tips, upcoming events, and new podcast episodes directly to your inbox?
Sign up below to receive updates about my work!

settings
settings
Episode Transcript

Speaker 1:

Hello, and welcome to the Parenting Without Power Struggles podcast. I'm your host, Susan Stiffelman. I'm the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles and Parenting with Presence. And I'm also a marriage, family and child therapist, a teacher, a long time parenting coach and a mom. I'm very glad that you're here. This podcast is my way of offering and sharing some of the things I've learned in my 40 plus years as a teacher, a therapist, educator, all of the things that I've described that have shaped and informed my understanding and my sensibilities. I really just want one main thing from this series and that's to help you have more fun and fewer power struggles with your children.


So I'm here to offer support. We cover all kinds of topics, including chores, co-parenting, mindfulness, parenting overwhelm, play distance learning. You can find the whole series at susanstiffelman.com/podcast. While you're there, be sure to sign up for my newsletter because you're going to get lots of news and inspiration on everything related to raising children. 


In today’s episode, I’m going to share a conversation I had with Dr. Michele Borba. Michele is a true powerhouse of a parent educator and she’s about to release an exceptionally important new book, Thrivers: Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine.


Speaker 2: Hi, Susan. It's a joy to be with you again.


Speaker 1: This is an important conversation that we're going to have, because I know that if you're raising a child, one of the things that is probably most important to you is that you help your child thrive. And this book that you're just about to release, Thrivers, is all about that. But first, let me give people the scoop on your bio. Dr. Michelle Borba is a globally recognized educational psychologist and parenting, bullying, and character expert. His aim is to strengthen children's empathy and resilience and break the cycle of youth violence. She's delivered keynotes and workshops to over a million participants, authored 24 books translated into 14 languages. She's an NBC contributor and has appeared 135 times on the today show as well as Dateline, Anderson Cooper, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, the View, the Early Show, CNN and many others, and her newest book Thrivers: Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine will be released March 2nd promises to be one of those truly important books that every parent should have. And I think the release is also going to happen on the Today Show. So I know this is like a labor of love for you. And tell me about how this came about.

Speaker 2:

This came about for 40 years, but it started out way back when, as when I was a special education teacher and I always would see that some kids obviously were struggling because that's why they were in my class. But for some sun seam reason, they also, some of them were shining a little more than others. They were struggling a little less, even though they, they all had the same adversity factor. And about the same time I was working on my doctorate and I happened to come across this mind-boggling piece of research that every parent in the world needs to hear Emmy Werner. She deserves the prize. The prize was a psychologist who had the same question. We all do. Why do some kids struggle and others shine? And so she decided to study about 700 children for 40 years. They were all growing up in the Island of Kauii.

Speaker 2:

She identified with pediatricians, social workers, psychologists, who of that group were more prone to have adverse factors like poverty, extreme sexual abuse, schizophrenia, parents, all the above. But she said, I kept watching them. And by the time they got into their teens, a third of them were caring, competent and confident. They were making it, despite it all, the first thing any warrant approved was that it's not a gene and it's not a program, but those kids who did shine did so because they had learned protective buffers that when the adversity came, they were able to bounce back. The other thing they had in their life, they always had a you in their life, one caring adult who refused to give up on them. You put that caring adult with the protective buffers together, and it's not GPA and IQ. That's going to get your kid through it's that combination. And they're going to use that the rest of their lives. So we have work to do.

Speaker 1:

A woman on a mission. I know it. I’ve seen you in action. And you know, you're just unstoppable. And I know why it's because a lot is at stake right now. So I've heard you say that, you know, you're, you've been working as I have for decades with kids, but that you're actually more concerned than you've ever been.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I am actually, when I was writing Thrivers, I stopped writing it the day the pandemic hit. But prior to that, and that, I just want to hear the stories on this. Prior to that, I was looking at unbelievable statistics, that one in five American kids would suffer from some kind of a mental health disorder. I was looking at college counselors, I've worked with 2,500 of them and they said, these are the best. And the brightest, their GPA is a 4.3 or 7.5 thousands. But they're the loneliest. They're the emptiest, they can't bounce back and we're running out of counselors for them. So then I started interviewing kids from coast to coast. Oh, Susan, it was incredible. I interviewed 100 teens, a very diverse population of kids. One-On-One one hour interview. And along the way, I came up with the most amazing pieces of information.

Speaker 2:

Every one of them supported the research. They said, yeah, we are the most stressed out generation known demand, you know, so what's causing it and over and over, the kids said too much emphasis on GPA and nobody's teaching us how to be good human beings. We're feeling like we're products, not people. That was the piece that hurt me. And that was when I contacted my editor and said, we got to write this book and that's how it came. So the next piece was figuring out if Emmy Warner and actually there's at least six other huge studies like Emmy Warner from similar kinds of psychologists who have confirmed that Thrivers are made not born. That it's never too late. It's not a temperament parenting really, really, really does matter. And they usually said it's made up of certain traits. So the key that I wanted to do when I was riding Thrivers was figuring out which traits matter most. And then the second thing is because I know we're all exhausted as parents, but, but school does matter. I said, yes, it does. So it's not either. Or the, the seven traits I chose were the most highly correlated to building resilience, as well as helping mental health, as well as being a top employability critical 21st century skill, as well as helping your kid be a peak performer in the classroom.

Speaker 2:

Other there's your framework for teachers, they’re embracing it across the country right now, the state of California is unbelievable. It has they've just picked this up and said, this is it. This is the model, but we've gotta be allies with the parents unless we work with the schools and we do it on a simultaneous mission. That's where our kids are going to maximize, and they're going to learn new habits. And it's really easy stuff. We just have to kinda work it in.

Speaker 1:

You know, this is such a passion for me, this idea that we're not just raising children, we're raising adults and that how we are with them now in the, whatever, the circumstances that we may find ourselves, including this pandemic and the way we show up in the way we nurture and cultivate certain qualities in them to help them address and kind of deal with the frustrations, the losses, the, all of the things that have, you know, big part of lockdown, that those are potentially gifts that we give them that will change their trajectory of their lives. And it's, but I love that you're insisting that this is not born, that this is teachable. And I love it so much that you and I are going to teach this class together. So we're going to expand on these ideas in the class, make sure that you're all signed up to get the update and announcement on that susanstiffelman.com, but just today for this little intro, can you talk about the traits? What, what are the seven qualities that we've identified?

Speaker 2:

What I did also is that these seven traits are actually, when you put them together, raise a kid who has strong mind, heart, and will, you put that together? It's this thing called the whole child that we sort of lost out in the woodwork. So number one is self-confidence. Then you've got to believe in yourself. You have to have a strong note of who I am, and that drives your purpose. And it really is very strongly correlated to resilience. The second one is empathy. You've got to have relationships. It's the highest correlation to mental health. That's why it's so many of our kids are having a problem right now because they've been social distancing and they are lonely. The third one is self control. You've gotta be able to manage that stress. So we're going to regulate that. And along the way we can do it.


Speaker 2:

Fourth comes interestingly enough, integrity, because you have to have a clear moral compass and kids who are critical thinkers, who can know what they stand for are likely to, you know, keep on going and not be so stumbled by it because they have a clear sense of that value system, whatever it may be and then comes the fascinating one that I love was curiosity. It kept coming up over and over again as highly correlated to not only the peak performer in the classroom, but the kid who can handle the adversity because they're more open to possibilities. They're not the kid that goes that won't work. Forget it. That's never going to be, but these kids are open to ideas and people then perseverance. Yes, they have to have the grit and keep going. But too often, we focus on the growth mindset without the other.

Speaker 2:

So the kid tanks and the last one that every child and person needs is optimism. You have to have a sense of hope that we'll get through it. All of them are teachable Thrivers. It has a hundred ideas in it. You choose one. You like each one is also grade level. Here's what to do with the little one. Here's what to do with the team. And it's set up so that each one of those seven traits also has three abilities or core skills that you can teach. So you have a framework. What I want to do is just give parents a new playbook. We have got us, but really Susan reset. If it's not a pandemic, it's going to be something else, really uncertain world. And we've got to reframe our parenting to help our kids make it through it.

Speaker 1:

Well, thank you for writing it because it really does sound like it's, it's a curriculum, but a very simple stripped down. Here's the quality or here here's the trait or the characteristic for each level that a tie, you know, at each age level of here are things specific things that you can do. How hard is that? I mean, that's just done for me


Speaker 2:

Easy. And the first thing that I tell every parent to do is go straight to the introduction because the first thing you have to do is evaluate your child, figure out who they are. And there's a little checklist. It'll tell you which of those strengths are your children's, you're your children's strengths. It's going to be different for each of your kids. And then my S my next suggestion is, so don't go near aiming for their weakness. Keep focusing in on their strengths. What the strength will do actually is multiply. It's called the multiplier effect too often. What I discovered is that we zero in on one trait, we're just going to zero in on helping our kids have perseverance. Okay. But that doesn't work alone. If you have perseverance plus empathy or perseverance plus integrity, it multiplies the impact. Make that even stronger.

Speaker 1:

I often say, it's that idea? That one plus one doesn't make two, one plus one makes 11.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, there you go. Yeah. Yeah. It's doable.

Speaker 1:

And this book is available for pre-order, right. People can, can order it now. I strongly encourage everybody to do that because, you know, once in a while, a really, really important book comes along and, you know, there were flooded with books and nobody has time to read. And I get it. I have a stack next to my bed, but once in awhile, in fact, I could say for me, personally, that some of the most significant changes in my life, or in the way I handle relationships have been brought about by a book, something read in a book, I've done therapy. I am a therapist. I've done so many workshops and trainings, but it's often been something was catalyzed by something I read in a book that actually rearranged the direction I was going. And just a small shift that I made that made such a huge impact on my life. So, yeah. Thank you for doing this. I mean, I know that you've written just 80,000 books and I know it's such hard work, but this sounds like it's very special and I encourage it.


Speaker 2:

Yeah. This is, I had to, it was written with passion because I just think we need to be, think our parenting, we only have one chance to get this, right. Yeah. And this is our moment.


Speaker 1:

And you know, everyone in my field, all of my friends and colleagues who are working with families and children, we're all concerned, you know, we, but it's also an opportunity to make some really wonderful shifts. Even if we ourselves didn't grow up with this kind of support, that's part of the healing I've seen in the parent population I work with is that when we start making shifts, that benefit our kids. It's almost like it retroactively helps us heal something in ourselves. We get some better. We get this benefit too. We can acquire some of those characteristics as well.


Speaker 2:

That's exactly the best way to do it. Don't go trying to teach your kid, have your kid do it together. As a family, it'll help every family member, because the best way your child learns is not by you telling him, but by you showing him with your modeling, it we're all burned out ourselves. Aren't you tired? Yeah. So all the ideas in this book are going to help you as well as your child. And it's a, win-win


Speaker 1:

Make sure everybody that you check out, susanstiffelman.com, get the newsletter so that you'll get the updates for when Michelle and I do an incredible webinar together, where we do some deep dives and take questions and interact with whoever attends, but you can always catch those replays. And Michelle, please tell people how to find out more about your work.


Speaker 2:

Oh, thank you. Just Micheleborba.com. It's my website. You will find on there, by the way, an educational discussion guide just for educators. So download it and give it to teachers. Here's how to do this, not in home, but in the classroom. There's ways to order the book, but there's also little teeny videos NBC segments that you can watch to help you find what works for you. That's what I'm trying to really do. It's not one idea. It's fine. The way that you're going to maximize your impact for your child. And that's how we raise strong kids.


Speaker 1:

So take advantage of support. You know, I think one of the hardest things about parenting that they don't tell you is that it's hard. It's hard. It's just so hard. And everybody, as you said, is just tired. A lot of parents are running on fumes and allow yourself to be supported. It doesn't mean you have to do anything different, but just allow yourself to sort of bask in the whatever form it's coming in. And I know Michelle that you're one of those people whose heart is so kind of on fire with wanting to see your understanding and all the thousands of conversations you've had with kids and parents over the course of your career to see it reach the people who could so benefit. So bless you. And thank you. Thank you. So again, everybody, Micheleborba.com is how you find out more about this wonderful work. And there's so many resources there. So thanks, Michelle. Thank you.


Speaker 1: To learn more about my master class with Michele and register, please visit this page: https://susanstiffelman.com/raising-thrivers/



[bot_catcher]