Last Thursday at Sun City in Roseville, Mark Katz, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and expert on behavioral disorders (such as attention deficit), conducted a seminar about the nature of individual resiliency and overcoming adversity. The seminar was organized by Strategies, a State of California alliance of professionals working with children and families.
One of the challenges, Katz explains, is that being different makes the individual vulnerable to bullying and attack; it can feel like there is no place for you and no escaping.
In this regard, individuals with demonstrated behavior issues offer extreme, chronic examples of the pain of feeling like you don’t fit in or that you don’t matter, which is part of the human experience. Most certainly, this is one of the risks for all digital natives (children born after 1990) who are vulnerable to cyberbully attacks as the “crowd” or “mob” mentality of the network (expressed via texting and social media) makes being different dangerous.
Abuse of drugs and alcohol is one of the risks expressed as a way of fitting in or coping.
“A universal need is that we all need to feel like we matter,” Katz declared, affirming that lifespan perspective is essential to resiliency. Kids need to know that in the long run, adversity is not permanent, pervasive or personal.
Seminar attendee Alan Baker is a Granite Bay parent and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for the Coalition for Placer Youth, a youth substance abuse prevention grass roots group. “Bully interventions can help improve the social environment kids are experiencing,” Baker said. “Addressing the bully problem may add value to prevention strategies, and the outcome of lives may be better.”
Attendee Angela Ponivas, Executive Director of Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center in Lincoln, learned that what is perceived as “weakness” may be a strength in another setting. “I plan to promote mindsets that de-stigmatize the issues,” Ponivas said.
According to Katz, resilience and context are inseparable.
“Children are especially vulnerable to context,” Katz explains, “They have less discretion over family and school environments. And they are more resilient than adults. After all they have to survive childhood.”
He encourages educators, parents and social workers to approach behavioral challenges as logical reactions to the contexts of school, peer, family or work environments that provoke the weaknesses, not the strengths of an individual. Katz also cautions that kids need reassurance of their ability to overcome difficulties, and have expectations for civil conduct and honest effort as they are accommodated.
Katz’s resiliency and context message offers a profound insight for understanding the experience of youth in their cyber-powered “friend communities”, where the lies of popular culture are hyped, and can capitalize on insecurity. Some of the lies include:
- Everything I need to know I can “Google” or learn from my “friend community”
- I cannot stand alone (say no to drugs and alcohol, or bullying) or I will be attacked
- Validation comes from “friend communities”
- Banana Moments: Help for Parenting in the Network Culture
- The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture
- Coalition For Placer Youth
- Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center (Lincoln)
- Learning Development Services
- Mark Katz, Ph.D.
- Strategies - Family Resource Centers
- CyberParenting Topics on The Fish 103.9FM Tuesdays
- Follow Joanna @CyberParenting
- Like Banana Moments
- Like Three Moms and a Mike