Raising a resilient child

Tracey Masella, adolescent transitional living program manager at Silver Hill Hospital, will lead the second installment of the Wilton Youth Council’s Parent Connection Information Series at Wilton Library on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

During her Raise Your Child to Be a Resilient Adult talk, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Masella will illustrate ways in which parents can help their children build resilience by learning to live life on life’s terms.

Masella will teach parents how to foster problem-solving skills and interpersonal effectiveness in their children by using mindfulness and distress tolerance techniques.

“I’m going to give them some background in adolescent development — both cognitive development and social and emotional development,” Masella told The Bulletin.

“I’m hoping, with that information, it will help parents to look at adolescent development in a more holistic way, rather than just focusing on grades, which tends to be the measure of success in kids.”

The common thought among parents is that if a child is doing well in school, he or she must be doing well overall, said Masella, who will present parents with “a broader look at what it means for an adolescent to be doing ‘well.’”

One area of parenting Masella will discuss during her talk is validation.

“In order to truly be validating, you need to be fully present in any given moment to begin to understand what somebody else is going through,” she said.

To gain perspective of what a child might be going through, parents have to be “fully present,” said Masella, and that requires “letting go of things that we’re thinking about and really focusing on what the kid is thinking and feeling.

“Mindfulness is key to being present to a kid in order to discern what it is that that kid needs at any given moment,” she said, “and most often, I find that kids need validation more than help with problem-solving.”

Masella will also discuss distress tolerance and ways to handle and alleviate stress.

Distress tolerance, Masella said, “is for parents to be able to manage any emotions that they’re feeling when their kid is being an adolescent.”

During her presentation, Masella will talk about stress management through the targeting of physiological responses. In other words, she said, “what our body does when we’re stressed and how we can better manage that.”

“There are some techniques that we’ll talk about that focus on our bodies through deep breathing, change in temperature, intense exercise — those types of things,” she said.

Masella said she’s done “a number of presentations” like this in Wilton and surrounding towns, and the audiences are “always very, very lively and interactive.”

“I love presenting to these folks. Parents are very engaged and very eager to learn,” she said. “It’s a wonderful environment for a presenter.”

From her talk, Masella said, she hopes parents take away some techniques that will help relieve some of the anxiety they feel from raising kids in Fairfield County and today’s world.

“It’s a stressful time for everybody — and most notably for our teens,” she said, “and if we can help parents to alleviate some of their anxiety, I think they will be more effective parents.”

The third and final installment of this year’s Parent Connection Information Series will be Delay Your Gray: How to Keep Your Teenager Safe and Yourself Sane with  psychotherapist and substance abuse counselor Liz Jorgensen at Wilton Library on March 7.

Parent Connection Information Series presentations are free, although registration is strongly encouraged. To register, visit www.wiltonlibrary.org or call 203-762-6334.