5 Books Every Parent and Teacher Must Read to Raise Resilient Teens
Nearly 1 MILLION books are printed each year in the US alone - so safe to say we’re swimming in them! It can be overwhelming to know which ones are really worth your time (especially as you're a parent or teacher who's already limited on that!)
Dedicated to being on the forefront of how I can help build resilience in teens, I’ve done that hard work for you. I’ve sifted through the sea of self-help books and found the top 5 I assure you won’t be a waste of your time; but an investment in equipping you with insights and strategies to better cope with failure, rejection, adversity, loss and every other curve ball life may throw your way - and how you can best foster these skills in your teen!
Always on the go and don’t have time to read? Why not give Audible a try? So you can read these as audiobooks while you drive to work, go for a walk, cleaning the house - that’s what I do and I love it!
1. Mindset: Change the way you think to fulfill your potential - Carol Dweck
Because if there’s one gift you would want to give your teen to thrive in life, it’s a growth mindset. This is a term coined by author and renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck, to encompass those who see challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow their skills and intelligence, rather than a threat to be feared or avoided.
I know at High School I definitely was in the latter camp - seeing my abilities as fixed and my failures as something to be ashamed of. It’s a limiting belief many teachers and parents unknowingly reinforce into their teens through the way they praise and raise their teens - but the good news is, there’s many practical steps you can take to support your teen in transitioning from a ‘fixed’ to a ‘growth’ mindset. This book is your much needed starting point.
2. The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown
Because so much of teen’s over-stressing, under-sleeping and outright meltdowns come from this deep underlying fear that they’re ‘not enough’. That they need to get those marks, those likes on instagram, those pair of shoes for formal to prove their worth; to validate their value; to build their self esteem.
Even if they won’t admit it upon the surface, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find this fear - it’s in all of us. The difference is whether you choose to let that fear drive your actions - or accept it for what it is, a part of our human nature, and not let it dictate your belief in your own self worth.
This heart-opening book is powerful in helping you see how you can choose the latter - how to choose to be brave and embrace your imperfections in a world that’s always trying to convince you otherwise. It has practical strategies you can use to help your teen overcome struggles with perfectionism, people pleasing and fear of failure.
You can get a better understanding of the book by watching Brene Brown’s Ted Talk that’s been viewed by over 34 million times.
My favourite quote of the book is one I wish I had hung above my desk when I was in Year 12:
“No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. Yes, I am imperfect and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging." - Brene Brown
3. Grit - Angela Duckworth
Because let’s face it, all teens could do with a little more ‘grit’ these days - right? That ability to show up for training when they don’t feel like it, concentrate during study even when the Bachelor’s on TV or forgo going out with friends to make sure their assignment’s finished on time.
This passion and perseverance for long term goals is what psychologist Angela Duckworth has termed ‘Grit’ (you can watch her fascinating 6 minute Ted talk on it here) . Her extensive research has shown that fostering the ‘grit’ factor in kids is a greater determining factor on their success in life than any IQ score or natural talent.
So how do we foster it? Duckworth is still on a mission to find that out for us - but her book certainly has some eye-opening studies and valuable tips to help you take steps in the right direction. The marshmallow test is one of my favourites - what on earth am I talking about? Well, you’ll have to read the book and see!
4. Good Thinking for Teens - Sarah Edelman and Louise Redmond
Because this book is filled with so many insights and useful strategies for emotional resilience that the guy who was sneakily reading it next to me on the plane ended up asking -
“What’s this book called? I want to get a copy!’’
I replied “Oh do you have a son or daughter?’
“No - it’s for me! I wish I’d been taught this at school’.
Amen to that!
This book is a teenager guide to managing stress and emotions using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) so you and your teen can learn how to think in a more healthy and balanced way, and to bounce back more quickly from unwanted challenges.
I love this book especially for the array of real life examples and practical tools you can put into practice immediately to help your teen overcome stress, negative emotions and self-defeating behaviour. And trust me, given none of us were taught this at school, you’ll personally get a tonne of value out of it to use in your struggles too!
5. The Choice - Edith Eger
Because while the other books are filled with great research and impressive studies, this book is filled with one brave woman’s story of surviving the Holocaust that proves what they’re all saying is true - it is the mindset, the perspective, the attitude that we choose which is what truly determines our ability to be resilient.
The title ‘The Choice’ is initially what attracted me to the book, as ‘you always have a choice’ is my core message of resilience, and Edith embodies this with grace and guts with every turn of the page.
While it might not have the tactical tools of the others, her eye-opening, heartbreaking yet awe-inspiring life journey is one that will stay with you forever. It is one that will find yourself recalling in those moments when you’re tempted lose your mind about the traffic to give you perspective; and also in moments where you really feel like you’ve hit rock bottom and have no choice; Edith becomes your beacon of hope that you do.
That whilst you don’t always get to choose your circumstances, you always have a choice about how you respond based on the perspective you take - on whether you search for the value in the experience, or wallow in the loss of it. That is a choice only you can make. Or as her Mother whispered to 16 year old Edith on their way to the concentration camp;
“We don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but no one can take away from you what you put in your own mind.”
― Edith Eger, The Choice: Embrace the Possible
‘The Choice’ was only recently published in 2017, but one that I believe will go on to inspire generations in a similar way to Dr Viktor Frankl’s extraordinary book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’.
Do you have a favourite resilience-building book? Share your recommendations in the comments below...