Gray Matters, November 2023

Raising a Kid Who Can

Last Thursday evening Capitol Hill Day School, in collaboration with East City Books, co-hosted a session with psychologist and author Dr. Heather Tedesco. It was a wonderful event that brought together participants from our immediate community and the Hill community at-large.

The focus of Dr. Tedesco’s talk and the lively conversation that followed was the recently published book, Raising a Kid Who Can, which Dr. Tedesco co-wrote with two colleagues, Catherine McCarthy and Jennifer Weaver. As you may imagine, given my chosen vocation, I have read numerous books on child psychology. I found Raising a Kid Who Can to be practical and digestible. As a parent of three, now young adults, the book is a guide that I wish I had access to many years ago. And, as an educator with many years of experience, the book’s core message aligns very closely with what I know to be important for the healthy development of children.

In Raising a Kid Who Can the authors articulate the ten essentials that they believe every child needs to thrive. 

  1. Rest, recreation, and routine
  2. Attention skills and self-control
  3. Tolerance for difficult feelings
  4. Tools to accept and manage anxiety
  5. Psychological flexibility
  6. Interdependence 
  7. Self-motivation
  8. Compassion and gratitude
  9. Resilience
  10. Parents and caregivers who strive to embody these essentials, too—who embrace that they themselves just like their children, are works in progress

As I read the book and listened to Dr. Tedesco describe the essentials in action I could not help but see the clear parallels between the authors’ research and what Capitol Hill Day School believes is fundamental when educating children. 

  • Routines: We are intentional in how we establish healthy structures to our learning environment.
  • Recreation: We value informal play and prioritize opportunities for children to engage outdoors.
  • Independence and resilience: We help children gain agency in their learning and foster collaboration among peers. 
  • Compassion and gratitude: We believe it is critical to support the development of a strong sense of self and a deep care for others.
  • Psychological flexibility: We place an equal emphasis on the cognitive and social-emotional growth of children.
  • Self-motivation: At Capitol Hill Day School children develop a genuine love of learning.

Thank you to all who attended. It’s always a pleasure to connect with folks outside of the usual places like the carpool lines and meetings. This particular event came about through a conversation with a Board member and former Capitol Hill Day School parent. If you have ideas for other similar events please feel free to share them here—I’d love to hear from you.