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Say Yes To Childhood

Posted: May 26, 2022

Parenting can be tricky. We want our children to be resilient, empathetic, and able to self-regulate. However, with the busyness of life, the experiences that build these characteristics fall by the wayside, and “no” becomes an automatic response. Children are continually being told what to do and what not to do. As a result, the reaction of parents for many child requests is rarely yes. And, unfortunately, this is typical because they are exhausted, don’t want to be disturbed, or simply because it has become a habit. However, parents should be saying is yes…yes to childhood, and yes to a joyful family.

 

As we would all agree, children need rules and limits. Therefore “no” is something we need to say. But the more frequently we use the word no, the more children begin to exhibit unwanted behaviors such as tantrums, talking back, and defiance. Remember…behavior is communication. And often, parents aren’t aware of how frequently they say no, and when children become disobedient, parents implement even more rules. However, this approach frustrates children and parents further, takes the joy out of the little moments in life, and suffocates children’s wonder about the world around them. Having a balance of rules and finding moments of happiness within the daily chaos will help children develop better self-regulation.


The Developing Mind -- Understanding Your Child's Behavior

Posted: May 12, 2022

One of the biggest struggles in parenting is understanding why perfectly sweet and smart children can, in an instant, turn into the most difficult beings ever faced. It’s often as if a switch was flipped and chaos has ensued. This typically results in parents becoming frustrated at their child and disciplining them in the heat of the moment. And while this may seem like the best option, it can be counterproductive in many ways. When parents become knowledgeable about the basics of brain development and how this affects behavior, they can help integrate all areas of the brain and have better parenting success.

 

The key to whole-brain integration is having a basic understanding of children’s brains. To simplify this, Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, created the concept of the “upstairs brain” and the “downstairs brain” in the book “The Whole-Brain Child.” When children are born, their primitive, “downstairs brain” is well developed. This part is responsible for the basic functioning of the body such as breathing and the heart beating but also incorporates innate responses related to strong emotions such as fear and anger. The amygdala, a tiny, almond-shaped mass, is the supervisor of the downstairs brain and stays alert for anything threatening. When there is perceived danger, our basic survival instincts kick in and we act before we think. For children, this often presents as a tantrum because they are flooded with stress hormones and strong emotions.


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.


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