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Tricia shares how she developed a helpful perspective about her son’s recent behaviour changes. (1 min. 35 sec.)

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“Flexible Thinking”

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Resiliency Resources for Parents


How we think about situations that happen to us determines how we feel and what we do. The more flexible we can be in our thinking, the more we can stretch ourselves to come up with solutions to problems. More info

It’s very helpful to pause and take a step back so that we can look at problems or stressful situations from a different perspective. Asking ourselves —“How else can I look at this?” can help. And while some situations are beyond our control, it is important to figure out what parts we can control, too. More info

We can also encourage children’s flexible thinking by gently challenging their assumptions. Then we can help them come up with new ways to look at difficulties they face.

Daphne blamed herself for her son’s challenging behaviour until his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome helped her understand how to help him. (1 min.30 sec )

Here’s what you can do

  • Help your child talk about thoughts and feelings. Ask thinking and worry questions like, “What are you saying to yourself inside your head?” or “What is your head telling you?”   More info
  • Show empathy for your child's thoughts and feelings. "I understand. You're feeling sad and mad because Roni broke your toy." Then, think together about ways to make the situation better.
  • Gently challenge your child’s negative thinking. “Always” thinking like “Jack always wants to play with someone else” can be turned around by pointing out the times your child played with Jack. "Everything” thinking like “Now everything is ruined” can be changed by helping your child see that if one thing goes wrong, it doesn’t mean that everything is a complete failure. More info
  • Encourage your child to imagine another way to do something – like a different way to help set the table or play with toys. This helps children learn there is usually more than one way to do things. Watch video

    Melissa shows how playing with children can help them develop flexible thinking about everyday situations. (1 min. 42 sec.)
  • Read or tell your child stories about how others overcome obstacles or turn a difficult situation around. Or, use puppets to bring the story alive. (Click here for children’s books related to thinking skills.)

 A while ago, we were supposed to go to a parade at night and my 7-year-old daughter kept on asking whether it was time to go yet. I suggested several things she could do to pass the time, but she refused my suggestions...  READ MORE

Tips and Activities

  • Tip sheet with ways to help your child develop more flexible thinking.    English    French    Other languages
  • More resources
    • Click here to check out our Resiliency Guidebook for more information about building thinking skills in adults and children.