Raising resilient kids in the age of social media, cyber-bullying, and other 21st century challenges—new book #motownmom
Along with the classic challenges of generations past—divorce, abuse, educational struggles— kids today face a host of new issues: cyber-bullying, the fear of school shootings, and unrelenting access to inappropriate content online, to name a few. Dr. Rick Capaldi, the founder of Outreach Concern, one of the largest school-based counseling agencies in the United States, has written 21st CENTURY PARENTING: A GUIDE TO RAISING EMOTIONALLY RESILIENT CHILDREN IN AN UNSTABLE WORLD (Central Recovery Press; August 2019), to offer parents the insights he’s gained from creating and implementing a program that has successfully counseled over half a million kids nationally.
Capaldi based 21st CENTURY PARENTING on his school-tested Outreach Concern method, the Behavior Performance Management model, and it shows parents how they can be more effective in creating the behavioral changes they want to see in their kids. In the book, the 3 R’s receive a modern upgrade: reading, writing, and arithmetic become Reading a child’s environment, Regulating their emotional temperature, and Redirecting their behavior. Unlike many parenting books, the ideas in 21st CENTURY PARENTING are based on decades of in-the-trenches work with real school-aged kids.
Capaldi is media-trained and available for interview. He can speak to the topics in the book, as well as on the following:
—insights into school shootings and the potential role of expanded mental health services
—what parents can do to prevent their kids from bullying, and being bullied
—how parents can better tune in to the emotional and behavioral challenges their children face
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Get the Book
Dr. Rick Capaldi has been a practicing family therapist for 40 years, specializing in working with children, adolescents, and parents. He is a former adjunct professor in Pepperdine University’s graduate M.F.T. counseling program and former instructor of psychology and sociology at Saddleback and Irvine Valley Community Colleges. In 1993, Dr. Capaldi co-founded Outreach Concern, Inc., one of the largest nonprofit, school-based agencies in the country providing counseling and support services to children and families throughout Southern California. Dr. Capaldi is also president of Capaldi & Associates which provides executive management assessment and organizational development services worldwide.
“In this guide to raising emotionally hardy children, Capaldi, founder of a nonprofit school-based counseling agency in Southern California, offers a new take on the three Rs: he advocates Reading children’s environments, Regulating their emotional temperatures, and Redirecting their behavior.” — Publishers Weekly, Helping Kids During Troubled Times: New Parenting Books 2019
Q&A WITH RICK CAPALDI
You lead Outreach Concern, which has provided in-school counseling for a half-million kids across the country. What insights have you gleaned from that on-the-ground work about the new issues kids are dealing with today?
We’ve worked with children, adolescents, and families for over 27 years, seeing kids come to school whose emotional backpacks are filled with various family, societal, social media, and mental health issues. In addition, school shootings, online predators, cyberbullying, and various learning and performance issues further impacting their school participation and success. As a result, we’ve learned today’s parents all need to pay more attention to what’s going on in their child’s lives, who and what’s influencing them, and how that’s affecting their homelife, academic, social, emotional and behavioral success. Parents need to equip their children with the tools to respond effectively to circumstances and emotional challenges that make them question their competency. They need to direct them toward accomplishments that result in a positive impact to their self-esteem, self-concept, and motivation.
When are kids referred to Outreach Concern? How do the services compare to other counseling services available in schools?
Kids are mostly referred to Outreach Concern by teachers, administrators, parents based on behavior, social, emotional, and mental health issues. Ten years ago, I became dissatisfied with traditional in-school counseling methods that required lengthy time commitments but had no specific goals. I sought to develop an intervention model that focuses on behavioral change through a more direct, strategic, and controlled approach with measurable results. Our process, known as Behavior Performance Management, is the basis of 21st CENTURY PARENTING. The method differs from traditional counseling methods that are either “insight” focused or “non-directed”.
The BPM model emphasizes is not on the lack of self-esteem, confidence, or motivation that impacts a child’s success, but the lack of performance and accomplishment that drives feelings of inadequacy and negative Core Development Competency in a child. We teach parents to redirect their children’s behavior in order to achieve positive outcomes, helping their child accomplish relevant goals that lead to a heightened sense of self-worth, self-assurance , and a strong drive toward future success. Since 2009, we’ve implemented this model in 894 schools and produced an accountability study that incorporates over 30,000 referrals demonstrating an 87% success rate for children in elementary, middle and high schools focusing on improving academic, behavior, emotional, social and mental health issues that negatively impacted their performance (see study www.outreachconcern.org).
What makes 21st CENTURY PARENTING different from all the other parenting books out there?
First, this book is based on a study incorporating over 30,000 counseling referrals and our experiences with those cases. We find that a child’s issues are not a problem of self-esteem, concept, and motivation, but the lack of accomplishments that gives way to a child questioning their competency and capability. Additionally, a key difference in 21st Century Parenting is that it supports parents’ willingness to make tough unpopular decisions that are in the best interest of their children’s safety, security, and success.
How has the internet and social media changed how children should be raised?
Social media can, of course, make our lives easier, however, it can also negatively impact kids and adolescents, especially when you recognize the average kid spends 5 ½ hours a day online. Parents need to take certain steps, like closely monitoring their child’s tech use and using apps that help with that monitoring. You also want to create a healthy balance between screen-time and real-life activities like playing with friends, being outside, playing sports and other extracurricular activities. And discuss technology use and misuse with your children and set up and reinforce clear consequences for irresponsible technology use.
As someone who works in schools counseling kids and teens, what insights do you bring to the ever-more-frequent school shootings?
Since 1990, there have been 195 school shootings in elementary and high schools across the United States. And the rate has increased exponentially recently. During the thousands of hours of media attention after these awful shootings, the discussion is myopically focused on beefing up security in schools and with suggestions of arming teachers and stricter gun control laws and enforcement. It’s disappointing to see so little attention paid to the role of mental health, which could help prevent these tragedies in the future.
In most of the school shooting cases, the young perpetrators clearly demonstrated extreme emotional instability for years, and it went unaddressed or inadequately addressed. We need to find and work with the kids that are falling through the cracks. We need to pay attention to these kids before their problems metastasize with horrific outcomes.
You talk a lot in the book about parents that are checked out from their kids’ emotional lives. Are you concerned about the opposite issue, about helicopter parenting?
Helicopter parenting focuses on parents who are overly involved in their kids’ lives, which doesn’t allow children to make independent decisions and doesn’t support their development. Our method includes an overall philosophy where a parent is very involved and alters their behavior in direct relationship to the behavior or performance of the child. But it is not about micromanaging or stifling the child’s independence and growth.
The subtitle of the book is “A Guide to Raising Emotionally Resilient Children in an Unstable World.” Can you speak to the concept of resiliency?
Resiliency is a learned behavior. It needs to be taught by parents who model it through their behavior, actions, and direction. A child doesn’t learn resiliency from having things done for them or having excuses made for their behavior. Learning how to bounce back from setbacks is a key skill. Children and adolescents also need boundaries, so they know where the starting block is as well as the finish line. They look for this stability at home, and it occurs when parents establish a sense of social norms and expectations.