Considering the Pros and Cons to Promote Resilience: (Unleashing Resilience Part 3)

Welcome back to the Unleashing Resilience series to support the emotional growth of children and teens. In this third installment, we delve into the third essential skill of mentalizing. Specifically, considering the Pros and Cons to promote resilience. Understanding how their thought processes shape their actions becomes a crucial compass for navigating life’s challenges.

The Power of Considering the Pros and Cons to Promote Resilience

Seeing Through Different Lenses

Mentalizing is often described as “thinking about thinking.” Doing so helps young minds adopt a new perspective – one that mirrors how others might perceive their thoughts and actions. This skill bridges the gap between self-awareness and empathy. And, importantly, allows children and teens to embrace a holistic view of their choices. By stepping into the shoes of an outsider, they gain fresh insights into the consequences of their decisions and thought patterns.

Navigating the Crossroads

When faced with important choices, considering pros and cons offers a roadmap for evaluating potential outcomes. Encourage children and teens to pause and engage in thoughtful reflection. Ask them questions like, “What are the potential benefits of this decision?” and “What could be the drawbacks in the short and long term?” This mindful analysis empowers them to make informed choices and nurtures a growth-oriented mindset.

Taking Perspective

Mentalizing and contemplating pros and cons create a bridge to understanding the diverse perspectives of others. This newfound empathy fosters better communication and collaboration in various settings, from friendships to teamwork. As they become skilled at considering others’ viewpoints, they develop stronger interpersonal skills and build a supportive network.

Expanding Self-Discovery

The process of weighing pros and cons becomes a journey of self-discovery. Encourage children and teens to explore how their choices align with their values, goals, and aspirations. Engaging in this self-reflection empowers them to make decisions. Doing so resonates with their authentic selves, cultivating a sense of purpose and resilience.

From Risk-Aversion to Courageous Growth

Considering the pros and cons also helps children and teens strike a balance between risk aversion and courageous growth. They learn to acknowledge potential risks while embracing the courage to step out of their comfort zones when necessary. This balanced approach nurtures resilience and a willingness to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.

Supporting Success by Considering the Pros and Cons

As adults in children’s lives, we play a vital role in empowering young minds to consider pros and cons. When we do, we help build their critical thinking, resilience, and responsible decision-making in the face of life’s uncertainties. Here are a few ways we can actively support children and teens in developing this ability:

Mindful Decision-Making Discussions

Create dedicated time for thoughtful decision-making discussions. Sit down with young minds and talk about the choices they are facing. Encourage them to list the pros and cons on paper or in a journal. As they do, they can visualize and analyze potential outcomes.

Model and Share Personal Experiences

Share your own experiences of weighing the pros and cons in your life. Explain how your decision-making process has evolved and the lessons you’ve learned from considering various perspectives.

Encourage Seeking Input

Discuss the importance of seeking input from trusted individuals, such as parents, teachers, or mentors, when facing significant decisions. Discussing options with others can provide valuable insights and different viewpoints.

Pros and Cons Jar

Create a “Pros and Cons Jar.” On separate slips of paper, have them write down various aspects of a decision. They can then draw them from the jar randomly to reflect on, helping them to objectively consider different factors.

Decision-Making Worksheets

Provide decision-making worksheets that guide children and teens through a structured process of identifying and evaluating pros and cons. These resources can serve as a practical tool for organizing their thoughts.

Future Visualization

Encourage children and teens to visualize the potential outcomes of their decisions in the short and long term. Ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself next week if you make this choice? Next year?” or “What impact could this decision have on your future goals?”

Role-Play Scenarios

Engage in role-playing activities with children and teens to simulate real-life situations. For example, if they are considering joining a sports team, act out the pros and cons of that decision. Encourage them to think about the time commitment, potential for growth, and enjoyment they may experience.

Create a Decision Journal

Have them keep a decision diary where they document the pros and cons of various choices they make. This ongoing record helps them identify patterns in their decision-making process and learn from past experiences. Encourage them to also write about how certain decisions make them feel. And, whether those decisions are in harmony with who they want to be.

As children and teens consider pros and cons, they unlock the ability to see themselves through different lenses. When they do, they can make informed choices and understand the impact of their thoughts and actions. Armed with this skill, they are on their way to building resilience that carries them through life’s diverse terrain.

Join me next week for the next installment of this series, Regulating the Stress System.

Missed the previous installments? Check out Parts One on Increasing Self-Awareness and Two on Becoming an Outside Observer.



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