Thesis

Toward raising successful children through middle childhood and adolescence: A multi-family group curriculum for parents and children aged nine to twelve

The social, emotional and physiological developments taking place in children aged nine to 12 offer an excellent opportunity to support and promote healthy emotional development and teach strategies for more effectively navigating adolescence and launching into adulthood. It is a protective and preventive measure to educate these children and their parents in understanding the functions and development of the brain during this middle childhood phase as well as to understand normal expectations and limitations in order to properly educate and support children as they become more autonomous and learn to trust in their own decisions. Key factors needed for successful emotional development in adolescence include a growth mindset, resiliency, agency and autonomy, and self-management. Healthy homes can support the development of these factors through modeling, having a shared language and understanding, encouragement of value- and goal-directed behavior over mood-driven behavior, and an environment that allows for making mistakes and trying again. Core skills for developing both the factors children need and the home environment that supports them are specific self-management techniques, which include mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation. Families can encourage the acquisition of these skills in a 10-week multi-family group setting where they can all learn together. This is an approach that equalizes parents and children as they all acquire new knowledge towards their own personal goals. It is also developmentally appropriate for children involved who are still seeking support and guidance from their parents. This format allows for learning, applying, and generalizing the skills to daily life outside of the group while also offering opportunities for clarification and reinforcement within the group setting. Families will receive support as well as other models of behavior via interaction with other families within the group. By providing families with skills and strategies that promote a growth mindset, resilience, autonomy and agency, and self-management prior to adolescence, families can maintain closeness and support each other through the difficult developmental phases ahead with less stress and more protective factors to increase likelihood of success.

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