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Strength-Based Thinking - Reframing Children's Challenging Behaviors

Posted: May 05, 2022

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.


Playing With Purpose

Posted: April 28, 2022

Have you ever taken a moment to truly admire the art and incredible beauty of watching a child at play? Their fully engaged spirit, drive, imagination and passion are all completely vested in the mission of the moment. Whether tinkering with their next greatest creations or saving the day as their favorite superhero, children demonstrate freely and without any reservations the power of playing with purpose! Maria Montessori once said, “Play is the work of a child.” How very true! As parents, teachers and coaches, we each have an incredible opportunity to step with intention each and every day into the world of a child, meeting them exactly where they are at in their own unique phase and stage of development. But what are “phases and stages of development” you may ask? Great question!

For years, child development experts in the specialized fields of science and psychological study have been uncovering the physical, intellectual, emotional and social characteristics of adolescence at different ages and stages of their ever-evolving development. From this great body of research, founder of SKILLZ Worldwide, Melody Johnson, alongside her passionate team of Child Development Specialists, have all been bringing firsthand experience, science, psychology and best proven practices together to support the unique and critical aspects of a child’s holistic development. By utilizing nurturing, age-specific curriculum purposefully designed to help a child grow, excel and exceed their developmental expectations, we are equipping children for bold, bright futures in their own distinct endeavors! Taking a deeper dive for just a moment into the purpose of age-specific play, let’s consider two ends of a beautiful spectrum. Imagine for a moment a three-year-old and a fourteen-year-old. How a three-year-old vs. a fourteen-year-old play are very different and understandably so! Developmentally each are in different seasons of life. The three-year-old for example is far more rooted in parallel play, mimicking and mirroring behaviors witnessed than engaging naturally in back-and-forth play. Further down the developmental line however, the fourteen-year-old is far more inclined to be exploring the ever-changing dynamics of their own social universe. With eyes wide open, they step with greater intention and interest into seeking and valuing the thoughts and feelings of their peers more than their parents. As the mind, body and spirit of a child continue to grow and develop, so too does their level of meaningful interaction with peers, individuals outside of their core family influence. But what happens when play doesn’t come naturally to a child? How can we as Proud Ninja Parents support our youth in experiencing the power of purposeful play? By taking action and engaging in:

1. Creating time and space for purposeful play. Setting intentional time aside to practice back-and-forth play with your child will go a long way in helping them know the boundaries and expectations within appropriate play with peers. Modeling expected and unexpected behaviors that may arise when playing tag

Leading by Example -- The Power of Self-Care in Parenting

Posted: April 21, 2022

Parents have always served as the first, and typically, the most important role model for their children, even though family members, teachers, and coaches have a significant impact on a child’s development as well. However, in the wake of the pandemic, these people have had less of a presence in children’s lives which ultimately left parents without the additional support they typically depend on. Combined with the stressors that have come with the pandemic, parental self-care has taken a back burner and bad habits are being observed and learned by children.


The goal of parenting is to raise happy and healthy individuals with strong moral and ethical views and behaviors. For this reason, parents often establish rules for their children to follow, limit exposure to too much media, and work to instill life skills that provide children the tools to be the best version of themselves. But often in times of unrest, parents have difficulty modeling what they expect their children’s behaviors to show. They instead follow the motto “do as I say, not as I do.” Unfortunately, this leads to confusion for children and can often create frustration.

Nurturing Children's Social Development During and Post Pandemic

Posted: April 14, 2022

For the past two years, we have been asked to socially distance ourselves from others in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. We’ve put most of our “normal” daily living routines on pause and created a secluded environment for ourselves and our children. And while many things are in a holding pattern, one thing that has not taken a break is children’s development. And yes, we are living in unprecedented times but as the world begins the “re-opening” effort, we must prepare ourselves and our children for what our social lives will look like moving forward.

Children’s social development is being impacted with the guidelines surrounding social distancing. They were no longer able to attend school and interact with their teachers and friends and most parents are also limiting their children’s time spent going on errands as well. Therefore, their ability to interact with others is limited. And what’s worse is that many people have taken the term “social distancing” to mean that they cannot interact with others at all. The stress of getting sick has instilled fear in our minds and caused many to avoid eye contact and greeting others, in addition to staying 6 ft. apart.

For children, “social distancing” can be confusing, especially when parents are avoiding others on all levels. And while the intention of this phrase is good, it has sent the wrong message. What we need to teach children is to “physically distance” themselves from others. This term tells them to maintain distance while also letting them know that eye contact and greetings are okay. This way, children learn what they should do to avoid getting sick while also learning and reinforcing necessary social skills.

Boredom and Creativity

Posted: April 07, 2022

Remember when you wished the weekend would last forever? As weeks of the “shelter in place” order have passed, the eagerness for some “time off” has lost its spark. Children’s boredom is growing day by day and will continue, especially as many schools will be ending the school year earlier than normal. The rising monotony of each day brings about an increase in technology use to keep children occupied. What they should be doing, however, is embracing the boredom and allowing their creative juices to flow.


When we are bored, we are more likely to engage in “sensation seeking.” A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology states that boredom causes us to look for activities to stimulate the reward centers of the brain. Since using devices increases dopamine, the neural connections for this increase, and our brains crave it more and more. The ability to let our minds wander is diminished and any moment that lacks stimulation makes us uncomfortable. And, unfortunately, our children are learning to satisfy these unpleasant feelings with technology.

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