In a world that highly values the traits of extroverted individuals, shy children are often assumed to have something wrong that needs to be fixed. However, shyness is simply a personality trait that is part of their temperament. Children are born with unique personalities, although the environment can play a significant role in how these traits present as the child develops. What is apparent is that shyness falls on a continuum, where children have varying levels of this trait. The important thing is to remember that different character attributes should be embraced to appreciate the unique way a shy child interacts with the world around them.
Children are wired with a variety of traits, and these things affect all areas of their life. Shyness is a trait that most parents are concerned about because they feel their child doesn’t have a good self-image. However, many shy children have a strong self-concept. They are often deep-thinkers and great listeners but also very protective of their inner peace. Shy children with a healthy confidence are polite, happy, and make eye contact. They are just simply quiet and slow to warm up to novel situations and people. And yes, more extreme shyness traits can cause concern, such as avoiding eye contact, behavior problems, and excessive fear. This is when adults need to step in and help.
Children’s challenging behaviors have long been the focus of adults’ pessimistic viewpoint of characteristics that don’t fit the mold of societal expectations. This rigid “deficit thinking” causes parents to complain about their child’s qualities and make them try to “fix” what is wrong or make excuses as to why they can’t do certain things. However, these assumptions don’t help children but hinder them and cause low self-esteem and self-efficacy. As they say, “We are what we think we are.” Instead, adults should reframe how they view a child’s weakness or misbehavior and raise the ceiling for them.
Children are criticized daily for their undesirable behaviors. Labels such as overly sensitive, hyperactive, impatient, defiant, etc., are automatically assigned to children when they exhibit actions outside of what is considered “good.” Adults feel that they should address these things immediately to ensure that future success isn’t impeded. But in adults’ pursuit to be good teachers, parents, and coaches, they forget that the child should be the focus. However, the goal should be to understand the child and shift to strength-based thinking to build children up based on their personalities instead of making them fit into what’s considered the norm.
Accepting Responsibility: Teaching Children to Avoid Blame Shifting
Posted: March 03, 2023
It is becoming more and more apparent that no one is to blame for everything that happens. So, if this is the case, how do we get ourselves in such turmoil if no one is responsible? Although this seems ridiculous, the use of “blame-shifting” has become the go-to way of justifying mistakes. When we have arguments or conflict with others, one of the major contributing factors that play into the inability for solutions to be reached easily is a lack of ownership of behavior. Children must be taught how to accept responsibility for their actions and feelings in any situation to lead a more productive life. Children are naturally going to test boundaries. Seeing how far they can push the limits of rules is nothing new. And when they make mistakes, their first reaction is to blame. They could blame someone else or even an external circumstance. By doing this, they feel they are preserving their pride and avoiding disapproval and consequences. Since children want to please their parents, those with parents that are more impatient and critical are more likely to shift blame. The problem with this lack of ownership is children become more passive and lose their sense of humility. This ultimately leads to more conflict and more difficulty finding resolutions. To help children learn this critical life skill, parents need to be patient and empathetic when addressing undesirable behaviors. This will create an environment where children feel safe to be honest. During these discussions, especially when there is a conflict between children, it is essential to help them stay focused only on their behavior during the dispute. Whether it was the action that initiated the incident or the reaction to the situation, taking ownership of their part is vital. This keeps them focused and prevents them from shifting blame. When children have successfully owned their behavior, make sure to show them an appreciation for their honesty, and open a dialogue for what could have been done differently. Life skills are an important part of a child’s development in the SKILLZ program. By utilizing the Life SKILLZ supplemental curriculum in class, instructors, can help set up children for success in patience, respect, kindness, responsibility, self-control, and many others. Parents can implement the Parent SKILLZ information to help them be more patient when addressing poor choices by their children and prompt them for more appropriate decisions. By providing children with environments that instill consistency in rules and consequences, children’s character becomes more refined, and they become more resilient. As John Wooden stated, “You aren’t a failure until you start to blame.” Taking responsibility for our behaviors is hard, especially for children. However, to help children master their responses to the world around them, they must learn to take ownership of their part. This fosters control over their own lives and helps develop essential life skills. When children are given the tools to learn from setbacks and mistakes, they form a growth mindset and become more resilient and empathetic human beings.
The Second Brain: Boosting Serotonin to Enhance Learning
Posted: February 24, 2023
We have all experienced, from time to time, that uneasy feeling you get when something doesn’t seem right. Often, we can’t put our finger on it, but we know that we feel bothered. For children, that uneasy feeling may show up as grumpiness or irritability, which can interfere with learning. Serotonin is a significant chemical in the body related to feelings of unease so boosting it should be an essential piece of the learning environment. By intentionally increasing this “feel good” component, programs that are children focused can bring about the most success to each child.
Serotonin plays an important role in our overall wellbeing and is a natural mood stabilizer. When we have those uneasy feelings or that “gut feeling” about a person or situation, it is because ninety percent of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in the gut. This is because the brain and the gut were formed from the same embryo cell line and remain in communication via the vagus nerve. Because of this, our stomach is typically considered our “second brain.” When people encourage others to “listen to your gut,” this is the reason.
But not only does serotonin help with mood but it has also been found to also affect learning and memory. It assists in constructing new neuropathways in the brain which strengthens the ability to learn new information more quickly. When levels of serotonin are higher, the overall mood is better so cognitive functioning is enhanced. However, when those gut feelings appear in children, they often show signs of poor impulse control and inattention and feel irritable. Low serotonin levels can contribute to this which ultimately leads to difficulty learning.
Boost Attention Span by Making Learning Fun Again
Posted: February 10, 2023
Attention span has long been a topic regarding the relationship between children and learning. As the years have passed, technology has been at the forefront of our everyday lives. This has caused the concern for inattentiveness to become even more of an issue. Children are constantly presented with new and exciting things that catch their attention, so it’s up to adults to find ways to teach new information in an entertaining way. This approach will maintain the interest level of the child so that learning can be cultivated.
Attention span refers to the time a person can focus on an activity. As most people know, this varies depending on the age. The general rule is 2-5 minutes per year of age is how long a child should be able to pay attention. However, to take it a step further, Neal Rojas, a developmental behavior pediatrician, states, “Attention span is elastic.” He refers to everything from the time of day that attention to a specific task is required to actual cognitive abilities and how a child interprets sensory input. Knowing that attention span will vary throughout the day can help adults tune in and make the necessary adjustments or plans to help them be as successful as possible.