Demystifying the lives of children and adolescents is a skill that noted pediatrician Ken Ginsburg has mastered over his 28-year career, and he shared his considerable knowledge about raising resilient children with a packed audience of AIS parents and visitors during an evening lecture on Thursday, October 17.
“What children need to succeed is unconditional love from at least one adult in their lives and to be held to high expectations,” said Ginsburg. He added that when parents think about the success and happiness of their children, “what we should be looking at is who our children are going to be at age 35” and not simply if they are happy every minute of their childhoods.
“Happiness at 35 is about knowing that you matter, being generous, compassionate and tenacious,” said Ginsburg. “It’s about being committed to repairing the world.”
Ginsburg, author of Building Resilience in Children and Teens and Letting Go with Love and Confidence, spoke on “Authentic Success: raising children and teens prepared to thrive through good and challenging times.” It was his second time speaking at Agnes Irwin.
Ginsburg outlined the seven factors that affect a child’s ability to overcome adversity and recover from disappointments: confidence, competence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control. “Life gets hard sometimes and the people who make it are the people who can bounce,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Ginsburg spoke to both the Middle School and the Upper School in separate assemblies, and received a standing ovation after his remarks to grades 9-12.
Sophomore Anna Kramer said she was inspired by the presentation, adding “the stuff he was talking about makes you think about what you go through in school. I’m going to try not to put so much pressure on myself. I am definitely not going to forget what he said.”
Juniors Lindsey Wetz, Lauren Spinelli and Elizabeth Camerota all described Ginsburg’s presentation as “really awesome.” “You connected to him easily, even though he was a male,” said Wetz, adding that it was clear he understood the perspectives of teenage girls.
“He was really inspirational,” said Camerota. “He gave me ideas that I will definitely keep in mind.” Spinelli said she could “really relate” to the discussion because Ginsburg had such an accurate perspective on the lives of young people today.
Fifth grader Isabella De Rosa said Ginsburg “talked about a lot of things that will definitely help me” in school, adding that she like his comparison of a tiger to things in life that worry kids, like tests.
Sixth grader Asiyah Ball said that from now on she will think about her grades differently. “I won’t feel bad if I get a lower grade than I wanted. I will see it as a chance to learn from my mistakes, especially if I know I worked hard and tried to do my best.”
Ginsburg praised Agnes Irwin for being among a small cadre of schools – one of only two in the Philadelphia area – that participate in the Challenge Success program developed by researchers at Stanford University. There are more than 100 Challenge Success schools across the country. Last November, students and staff attended a conference in Chicago aimed at helping member schools find ways to explore authentic success and create channels for achieving it in their school communities.
“Ken Ginsburg's visit to the school was driven by our students' desire to have him here,” said Mariandl Hufford, director of the school’s Center for the Advancement of Girls. “He is that rare speaker who can connect equally with adult and teen audiences. We very much looked forward to having him back in the Agnes Irwin community.”
The event, a Wellness initiative of the Center for the Advancement of Girls, was supported by the Visiting Lecture Fund, Class of 1957 Speakers’ Series Fund and Parents’ Council Speakers’ Fund.
Dr. Ginsburg is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and a pediatrician specializing in Adolescent Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He is also an advisory board member of Stanford’s Challenge Success team.