The kitchen is one of the best avenues for getting to know your child on a deeper level. -Michelle Borba

121: How to Raise THRIVERS – Mentally Strong Kids With a “WE GOT THIS!” Attitude

Not kidding, I referenced this interview FOUR times the same week we recorded — it’s THAT pertinent to our experience in this pandemic and our jobs as parents!

I’m already planning to ask Michele back because she’s such a wealth of knowledge, but today we’re focusing on the MOST important quality our kids need today – resilience. Her new book THRIVERS is about 7 teachable skills that set happy, healthy, and high-performing kids apart — and I believe those are listed in an intentional order.

If you find yourself wondering why some kids struggle and others shine, spoiler alert: It’s not about GPA.

No matter what life throws at our kids, we need them to be resilient.

This free download will give you some practical and actionable steps to improve brain health and resilience.


This is a must-listen! Find out:

  • Why Michele has never been more worried about this current generation – even before the pandemic (and it’s worse now)
  • A toxic recipe for resilience that too many of us are using to raise kids
  • What makes a child a “THRIVER” – having the skills and abilities to do well in the real world
  • The power of observing your kids to focus on their current strengths
  • How the 7 traits show up in kids (and how many your kids need to thrive)
  • The 2 things all kids need to thrive and whether all kids are capable of becoming a thriver
  • One question to ask yourself that will ensure you raise confident kids (this is powerful!!)
  • How the kitchen and family dinners showed up in Michele’s research
  • How today’s super-busy parents can find the time to implement these strengths with their kids
  • How schools implement the 7 traits withOUT creating more drain on our overtaxed teachers (phew!)
  • How to raise optimistic, hopeful kids even in the midst of a pandemic (and why that matters)

We both talk fast, folks, so buckle up for a WEALTH of valuable information that will change the way you think about your kids and the choices you make as a parent!!! The world needs this!

Can’t see the video? View How to Raise Resilient Kids here on YouTube.

No time for the video? Here are the notes?

How to Raise Resilient Kids

  • 0:16: Today I have Michele Borba with me on the Healthy Parenting Connector. We’re talking about her new book Thrivers and raising resilient kids.
  • 2:50: Michele says she’s never been more worried about the current generation of kids. As an educational psychologist, she has seen an alarming rise in stress in kids (even prior to the pandemic!) As of March 2020, 1 in 5 kids is diagnosed with a mental health disorder. 
  • 3:37: Michele started interviewing teens and that’s when she realized we really had a problem. These kids were loved and well educated, but they all said they didn’t feel like they had the skills to thrive

I think we’re being raised more like products than humans. -Teen interviewed by Michele Borba

Preparing Kids for the Real World

  • 4:55: In Michele’s book, Thrivers, she gives simple things to weave into your daily lives that will give your kids skills to thrive into adulthood
  • 5:22: It’s not just about loving your kids or pushing them in academics, they need to be taught the skills and abilities to do well in the real world. I’m all about life skills and raising resilient healthy adults.
  • 5:51: So what is a thriver? It’s a kid who has an “I can do it” attitude and the skill set to be problem solvers and innovators. It’s not about a high GPA, but when you’re intentional about raising a thriver, it doesn’t only help them as an adult, it helps them in the classroom now. 

Sometimes we make it too hard and we don't zero in on what really makes a difference. -Michelle Borba 

How to Build Confidence in Kids

  • 6:44: The introduction of Thrivers has a questionnaire to get you started. What strengths do your kids already have that make them confident? Observe your kids and see what gives them joy and what they’re really interested in.
  • 7:45: Where does this leave screens and video games? Many kids get very absorbed when they’re on the screen but does that mean it’s a passion we encourage them in? 
  • 8:44: The average 13 year old gives up their strength that gives them purpose because they don’t have enough time to practice it. Think woodworking, building, crafts, musical instruments, reading, cooking, and sports all these hobbies that give kids purpose and light them up inside are often seen as unnecessary and secondary to school and homework. (Having classes like shop and home ec come out of schools doesn’t help this either!) 
  • 9:01: Once you’ve figured out your kid’s passions, look at your schedule and find time to incorporate them. Kids need life skills and passions in order to be successful, well-rounded adults. Boosting their GPA to get them into a good college isn’t enough.
  • 9:37: It also turns out that American young adults are the most likely in the world to drop out of college. The reasoning seems to be that they can’t handle the stress and real-world life they encounter there. Looks like our hyper-focus on academics to secure our kids’ futures might be backfiring. This interview with Julie Lythcott-Haims talks about the dangers of helicopter parenting and raising successful adults.

Character Traits of Kids Who Are Thrivers

  • 10:16: Michele identifies 7 character traits that set thrivers apart. She looked at longitudinal studies that looked at a group of people who overcame trials in their childhood for 40 years. She explains how she narrowed down the traits she chose. It wasn’t just about raising resilient kids, but also kids who are employable as adults and are happy and healthy. 
  • 11:30: The 7 traits are: self-confidence, empathy (social competence), self-control, integrity (make decisions well and quickly), perseverance, curiosity (openness to ideas and people), and optimism/hope.

These traits come together to raise a child who has a strong heart, strong mind, and strong will. -Michele Borba

  • 13:02: Empathy is number two because Harvard Business Review named it as the top employability factor right now. Being able to get along with others is so important. More and more young adults are living without roommates when they go to college because they don’t have the social skills to get along with others. 
  • 13:38: Michele identifies something she calls the multiplier effect. These traits all work together to exponentially increase each other. Parents ask all the time: which is the most important of the 7 traits? Where should I start? First, you start with your child’s strengths and then see what they need most right now. Then build upon that. It’s never too late to start, but the sooner you begin the better. By the way, kids don’t have to excel in all 7 traits to be a thriver, any 3-4 traits together will multiply each other and make a resilient child. 
  • 15:16: Imagine your child is a rubber band, keep stretching them without snapping them. That’s how you raise a resilient child who can survive without you someday.
  • 15:52: We talk to the skeptics out there. Is it really possible for all kids to develop all these traits? Michele started her career as a special education teacher and she found that her students then exhibited these traits as well. 

Kids need internal skills and a protective champion who refuses to give up on them. -Michele Borba

  • 16:27: 40% of kids will encounter adversity in their lifetime. They will either get through it or tank. They need the skills to handle stress, have optimism, and get through it and they need someone who refuses to give up on them. 
  • 17:50: Michele has one question that will help you raise confident kids

Am I raising a kid based on who they are or who I want them to be? -Michelle Borba

Self-confident kids are raised when you follow the child’s lead, rather than who you want them to be. -Michele Borba

  • 18:29: Self-confident kids know their strengths, accept their weaknesses, are mentally healthier, know who they are and where they want to go. Here’s the survey Michele mentions

Raise Resilient Kids Who Thrive!

  • 19:42: Here at Kids Cook Real Food we talk a lot about building confidence in the kitchen and giving kids real work to boost their self-esteem. Learning practical life skills like cooking, changing a tire, washing clothes, etc are all highly correlated with thrivers as well. The kitchen is also a great place to build connections with your child and learn what makes them shine. Family dinners are critical.

When you look at the good stuff happening in the world your heart opens, you’re more inspired and optimistic, hope comes alive and your mental health improves. -Michele Borba

  • 21:46: Parents are busier than ever. We give you some simple ideas to incorporate building these strengths in your kids. If you’re struggling during these uncertain pandemic times, implement some routine or ritual in your day. 
  • 22:41: Teach a self-regulation skill as a family. Identify your kids’ (or your own!) stress triggers and practice deep breathing together. You get the most relaxation when your exhale is twice as long as your inhale. Here’s a demonstration of a relaxing breathing technique
  • 24:02: Let’s look at the school system and how that integrates with raising thrivers. Many teachers are realizing that changes need to be made before parents are. Parents and teachers need to be working together raising resilient kids. 

Teachers are very concerned about children’s wellbeing and rightfully so. -Michele Borba

  • 27:21: As we go through the pandemic, things feel uncertain so what can we do to instill hope in our kids? The most important thing you can do is model resilient behavior and bring your kids in on the process. Actually say out loud, “This is so frustrating, but I’ve got this, I can do it!”

The way you speak becomes your child's inner voice. -Michelle Borba

  • 28:38: We parents often need to be reminded how important our words are with our children. The way we speak to ourselves, about ourselves, about others, and to them, all has a profound impact on how their inner voice develops. Of course, we aren’t perfect, but we can talk to our kids about our own failures as well as a teaching tool.
  • 29:19: One of Michele’s strategies is to tell your kids “this is how I messed up, but next time I’ll…” to build perseverance. 
  • 30:15: We leave you with one thing you can do today to start raising resilient kids. This pdf will help you.
  • 31:44: Share your goals and strategies with other people helping to raise your kids whether that’s the other parent, a grandparent, teacher, or coach. Send them this interview while you’re at it!

Resources We Mention for Raising Resilient Kids

Michele BorbaMichele Borba, Ed.D. is an educational psychologist, former teacher, and mom recognized for offering research-driven advice culled from a career of working with over one million parents, educators and children. A frequent Today show contributor and recipient of the National Educator Award, she is the author of 25 books including UnSelfie, and her latest, THRIVERS: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine. She also appears on Dr. Phil, The View, CNN, The Doctors, Dr. Oz, and featured publications, including U.S. News & World Report, The Chicago Tribune, TIME, and The NYTimes.

Raising kids who thrive as adults

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About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

2 thoughts on “121: How to Raise THRIVERS – Mentally Strong Kids With a “WE GOT THIS!” Attitude”

  1. Owning up to what is ‘going wrong’ for us as the adult and expressing our ‘try, try again’ attitude surely can positively affect children. I liked: “This is so frustrating, but I’ve got this, I can do it!” to help give us adults the words that can be used.

    1. I really liked that wording idea as well Mary. I’ve noticed my 5-year-old mimics my frustration when he accidentally drops something, or something doesn’t work out the way he wanted. Kids can be pretty convicting!

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