On the Site:


Everyday Strong: Building Resilience In Kids Starts With Safety, Connection, Confidence

Jul 19, 2019, 6:35 PM | Updated: Mar 10, 2021, 6:47 pm

UTAH COUNTY – Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Matt Swenson believes parents have more power than they realize to care for the emotional and mental health of their children.

He said parents can build resilience by fostering safety, connection, and confidence in your kids, or other children around you.

He’s partnering with the United Way of Utah County to introduce a new framework for emotional health. It’s called Everyday Strong.

News specialist Dan Spindle joined him to learn about the approach. He asked Swenson: “How do you advise parents who are saying, ‘Boy, I’m frustrated. I’m not sure how to talk to my children about these problems they’re having?’”

“You can’t have an agenda other than safety. That’s your only agenda,” Matt Swenson explained. He said it starts with the basics.

He referred back to a pyramid most Psychology 101 classes teach. It’s called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and prioritizes basic human needs including physical needs, safety needs, connection needs and confidence needs.

Swenson said many parents often wonder: “How do I make my child feel safe? How do I give them an experience with emotional safety meaning that they feel safe to talk?”

He said safety goes beyond feeling physically protected. He said children may be afraid of getting in trouble or letting someone down. Swenson said it’s important for parents to help their children feel safe to explore or even fail.

He said the best way to talk with a teen is by sometimes just listening. “Imagine literally, that you’re putting duct tape over your mouth, and you’re just going Mm… Hmm… Hmm,’” he described.

Swenson said creating a safe environment allows you to better connect.

“After you’ve read a story, when you’re eating dinner, take an extra moment to just really look in their eyes and smile, and say, ‘I just love hearing about your life,’” he suggested.

He said kids just want to be seen. “To see their struggle, and to see their life and their successes and I think parents can do that to say, ‘I’m watching,’” he said.

Swenson said safety and connection allow a child to start feeling confident. Parents can foster this by expressing trust or reassurance.

Connecting through apologizing, writing a note, playing, laughing, or asking questions are all good ways at showing interest in your child’s life.

He said there are certain phrases a parent can use such as, “You’ve got this! Be patient with yourself. You’re working hard. I know the kind of person you are!”

Swenson said that time of language is encouraging and resonates better with a child. “It’s not a lecture. It’s not moralizing. It’s not more instruction,” he said.

Swenson said once a child’s needs are met, they’re great at solving many of their own problems.

“If every person who had any interaction with a child throughout the day woke up every morning and said, ‘What am I doing today to deliberately and thoughtfully create a sense of safety, connection and confidence in the children in my life?’ I think we’d make a big dent in the problem,” Swenson said.

The Everyday Strong program isn’t just for families. Orem city is also jumping on board as the first Everyday Strong City.

Orem city leaders said their responsibilities extend beyond collecting taxes and paving roads. They want every city employee who interacts with kids to have in-person training to make sure kids feel safe, connected, and confident.

This includes the fitness and rec center staff, lifeguards at the pool, and librarians.

Everyday Strong director Michaelann Bradley said the Alpine, Nebo, and Provo school districts are also adopting the program.

“Not just the teachers and the principles, but the best drivers [and] the cafeteria workers, who can have an actual impact by connecting with these kids.,” she said.

For more information, visit check out Everydaystrong.org to request a handbook for more ideas on how to better connect with your kids. You can also watch an hour long presentation by Dr. Matt Swenson on the KSL TV app.

KSL 5 TV Live

Healthy Mind Matters

(Laura Warburton)...

Emma Benson

‘Because of Hannah’: Utah mom who lost daughter to suicide provides resources for others

Laura Warburton remembers her daughter, Hannah, as a warrior.

10 days ago

SafeUT app...

Logan Stefanich, KSL.com 

SafeUT app sees ‘record-breaking’ use in 2023

The SafeUT app saw "record-breaking" utilization during 2023, program leaders and partners announced Tuesday.

30 days ago

Kelsey (left) and Wendy Fayle (right) holding up a NAMI sign. (Courtesy: Wendy Fayle)...

Candice Madsen, KSL TV

NAMI Utah offers free classes for parents and adolescents dealing with mental illness

NAMI is offering free classes for both parents and adolescents that are dealing with mental illness.

1 month ago

YCC text messages...

Alex Cabrero

YCC Family Crisis Center in Ogden now accepting text messages

It is certainly not the easiest job out there. Amber Paaso will be the first to tell you she's burned out of doing it in the past. 

1 month ago

Dexton Obray was only 14 years old when he took his life in Monroe, Utah in October 2022. Since his...

Aley Davis

7th grade football player spreads mental health awareness after losing teammate to suicide

A 12-year-old boy is working to raise awareness after his football teammate died by suicide in October 2022.

3 months ago

Aron and Joe Tuia'ana (KSL TV)...

Peter Rosen

Utah man’s mission began on an overpass

Men are four times more likely than women to die by suicide. For Joe Tuia'ana that’s more than a statistic.

3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Everyday Strong: Building Resilience In Kids Starts With Safety, Connection, Confidence