Conscientious parents want to do what is right for their kids. After all, we all want our children to not just get by when they grow up but also to be successful in what they set their minds to do. For this to happen, we need to help them develop the proper mindset while they are still young.
The mindset that I'm referring to is called growth mindset, which determines if someone can thrive. The term was coined by developmental psychologist Carol S. Dweck to refer to the underlying belief that hard work, training, and persistence open the way for people to reach their objectives. In her work about the mindset psychological trait, she said that kids with a growth mindset are more likely to cope with challenges and difficulties.
When our children develop a growth mindset, they will take setbacks or failures positively. They would know that learning from their experience is how they can improve themselves. They will be able to accept that people have different talents and if they work hard, they can improve theirs.
Along with this, the Stanford University professor also named another type of belief. Called fixed mindset, it is when a person believes that success is dictated by one's innate abilities and talents. A child who does not overcome this kind of mindset will think that any kind of setback or failure is because of their lack of ability, talent, and intelligence.
For instance, when a child says, "I'm no good at sports/math/arts," then he or she has established a belief that being good at the subject or skill depends on one's ability – one that is set and unchangeable – which they think they are lacking. In other words, the kid has a fixed mindset and has already given up on the possibility of learning and improving.
On the other hand, if the child learns to say, "I'm not yet good at sports/math/arts" or "If I practice more, then I'll learn how to do it better," then he or she opens the way for improvement. The kid is willing to put in some effort to achieve success.
There are many reasons why our kids need to develop a growth mindset. Let us look at three of them:
To quote a quick example, Kodak had 170,000 employees in 1998 and sold 85 percent of all photo paper worldwide, but in just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt.
At the speed the world is changing, the future is becoming more and more unpredictable. We all have to be equipped with the right attitudes and frame of mind so that we can keep up with – or move ahead of – the world's exponential change.
To put it simply, kids need to develop a growth mindset in order to cope. In the same way that we do things differently from how people did them a couple or so decades ago, so our kids and grandkids will do things differently from us.
Kids, more than ever, need to be able to cope with the changes that will happen in their lifetime by believing that they can improve their talents, abilities, and intelligence through effort and hard work. The kind of mindset they have can influence their chances of achievement – if they believe they can grow and learn, they will have more positive attitude towards success and failure.
Both kids and adults can learn just about anything we want. It is not only because we can now easily find information on the internet but also because humans have a basic instinct to grow and improve. We want to discover, learn, and find out about things. We get dissatisfied when there is no change or improvement in our lives.
At the same time, though, we also have an inclination to resist change. And a lot of times, this resistance to change is the result of us being fearful. We like to hold on to what's familiar and comfortable because we are afraid of the uncertainty that change is going to result in.
Kids with a growth mindset will confidently strive for improvement and achieve the best they can be. Like other people in the world, they will have fear, they will have doubts, but it's the belief that they can conquer all these fears and doubts through taking action that matters most.
Children with a growth mindset know that with hard work and persistence, they will keep on improving until they reach their objectives. Martial artists with a black belt achieved their standing because of years of practice and training. Similarly, weightlifters did not start out lifting hundred-pound weights but started out with lighter weights and moved up gradually. People who speed-read, sew clothes, and even play complicated computer games also went through the process of learning, practice, improvement, and mastery.
All in all, it takes a kid with a growth mindset to achieve mastery in anything.
According to a research on brain plasticity, experience and practice can change the connectivity between neurons – current connections are strengthened, new connections are made, and the speed of transmission of impulses is increased. In other words, we can improve neural growth in our brain by how we act, and the way we act and behave is influenced by our belief that our mind is malleable and can grow.
Here are a few strategies we parents can use in our daily lives to help our kids develop a growth mindset:
In a study with 5th graders, Dweck divided the children into two groups and asked them to work on a puzzle task. After succeeding initially, they praised one group for their intelligence and ability and the other group for their effort. When the initially easy task became harder, the groups reacted very differently.
They found that kids who are praised for their intelligence and ability (e.g., You're really smart!) think that their success is due to their natural ability, and failure is because they don't have it. This results to them becoming less persistent, preferring easier tasks to ensure success.
On the other hand, children who are praised for their effort and hard work (e.g., It seems you really worked hard to do this!) are educated to have the power and control to change the situation. They are more likely to look forward to challenges and believe that their performance can still be improved. Failure for them is just a part of the challenge.
We praise our kids as a means of encouragement and appreciation, but our words can have an impact on our kids' mindset. So let’s change our language in our daily lives!
|Instead of saying …||Why not say …|
|You're so good at this.||I see you put a lot of effort into this.|
|You're intelligent like your mom/dad.||Your hard work is paying off.|
|It seems you weren't born to be an artist/athlete/math wizard.||It seems you don't get this yet.|
|This looks too easy for you. You really are smart.||This looks too easy for you. How about trying out something more challenging?|
Adults play an important role in the mindset of children. A 2012 study found that educators with a fixed mindset are more likely to judge students as having low potential. Their beliefs lead them to comfort students who get bad results rather than help them build a strategy to improve. Worse still, a separate study found that this comfort-oriented feedback is linked to lower motivation in students who are not performing well and also leads to lower expectations for their own performance.
There are also studies that show animals who live alone just eat and sleep all the time. This behavior is unlike that in animals who live in challenging environments with different toys and other animals to interact with. Those in the latter group have to constantly figure out how to use the toys and how to get along with their companions, so they have more connections between the nerve cells in their brains. The connections were found to be bigger and stronger, too.
So as parents or educators, we need to remind ourselves that the brain is like a muscle. The more our kids use their brain, the stronger it will get. Learning new things, challenging their minds, and practicing will help their brain cells grow.
Affirmation is one important tactic that we can teach our kids. When we say positive statements, we are opening the way for them to keep on moving forward to reach their objectives. Here are some of them:
- Things are difficult before they are easy.
- Babies aren’t stupid – they are growing and learning every day.
- I am helpful, hopeful, and worthy.
- Every problem has an answer.
- I can do it.
- I learn from my mistakes.
- Every day brings new opportunities.
- Whatever I do, I give my best.
- Problems are challenges to a better me.
- I am ready to seize the opportunities of the day.
Studies show that growth mindset improves kids' performance because it shifts the way they think about themselves.
So, let us learn and use the growth feedback and help our kids develop a growth mindse
Some of the behaviors little kids exhibit can be downright baffling and, often, rather frustrating. Some parents even feel embarrassed of how their kids talk and act and resort to calling them names like "brat," "spoiled," "defiant," "unruly," or "bad." But instead of giving them insulting and degrading labels, I’d rather treat these behaviors as clues to what is going on in a child's mind. Their actions and reactions are actually valuable unconscious messages that reflect what they are feeling or lacking.
Now, let us dig deeper into the real reasons behind some troubling everyday behaviors that kids exhibit:
- This is a sign of frustration.
- The child is trying to release negative energy.
- Kids who find the urge to control other people and situations may have an underlying fear that their needs are not going to be met.
- Bossy behavior may also stem from mimicking their parents or characters on TV.
- This may also be due to a need to feel important or getting what they want.
- Healthy competition even among siblings is natural, but a child who tries to be or appear to be better than his or her brothers and sisters is likely to be seeking to be valued more as a person.
- Taunting their siblings may be their way of getting attention and/or gaining control.
- Disrespectful kids are showing that they are not connected to the person.
- It can also be because the grownups around them break promises or show behaviors that go against their own teachings (e.g., lying, bashing the neighbors, cursing the boss, and so on).
- When kids don't listen, it can be because they think that grownups don't acknowledge them or their desires.
- It can also because they get nagged too often, too many points are being tackled all at once, or either the child or the parent is busy doing something else while the one-way discussion is ongoing.
- Lack of self-esteem can be because the child is given too much advice (told what to do) but does not receive enough encouragement from parents and caretakers.
- It can also be because they receive criticisms even for a job well done (not getting a perfect score in tests, not folding clothes properly, missing a spot when coloring, etc.)
- Kids who receive help too quickly even for minor matters tend to not develop enough confidence in themselves.
- This is a signal that the child is overly excited.
- He or she might not be getting enough of your attention.
- Hiding the truth may be because an adult overreacted to a mistake the child made in the past.
- It can also be an expression of the child's active imagination.
- This indicates that the child is tired, exhausted, and/or not getting enough sleep.
- The kid might be feeling overwhelmed or over-stimulated.
- Kids who show signs of defiance may want to feel more competent and respected, to be treated as an individual and not a robot that can be ignored and/or ordered around.
- Also, they might have the desire to be heard and understood.
- This can be signal that the child is unable to cope with the situation.
- This may also be their way of getting attention or listened to.
Little kids are still too young to express themselves fully. Even big kids are not as equipped as adults in conveying their thoughts and emotions in a more socially acceptable way. Thus, as parents, it is important to remind ourselves that all behavior, even problem ones, is a form of communication and there is always a reason behind it.
Also, oftentimes, a child who has tried several times to communicate with adults about what he needs but his needs remain unmet will use negative behavior as a way of sending out a very loud message. The only real way to minimize or stop challenging behavior is by helping our kids explore the meaning behind it and to suggest a positive replacement for it.
When adults help children find positive ways to communicate their needs to others, the kids learn important social and problem-solving skills that will help them throughout their lifetime.
Psychology for Effective Parenting reveals many powerful communication techniques that are usually reserved for psychologists and therapists. My aha moment arrived on pg. 36, when the author spoke about how the brain registers the word “don’t.” That information alone will help parents reset their instructions so they can increase listening and cooperation. The book is filled with many such hints. I highly recommend this to all parents.
Children learn a wealth of skills by planning the family vacation.
They learn about researching and geography, they apply math and they practice their communication and negotiation skills.
Let them find cool places to visit, activities that they enjoy to do, manage the budget and plan an itinerary that the whole family would love.
Kids are never too young to learn responsibility, and this includes handling money. Teaching our children to handle their funds wisely now can have a great impact on how they will manage their finances when they grow up. There are many ways to do this like using money games for kids, but I prefer something that give them a realistic picture of what's happening in the world, and this virtual family bank called Famzoo is what I've chosen as a tool.
Let us face it, money is an important part of life. We need it if we want to live comfortably and securely. It is also needed for our kids' education, their health and well-being, and their entertainment.
Our children may be young now but, in no time at all, they, too, will be receiving their own paychecks, buying their own food and clothes, paying their own bills, and maybe even sending their own kids to school. How they will manage and cope largely depends on how we train them today.
The conventional way to teach kids about money is by giving them a regular allowance and a piggy bank. Some parents even try to have the young ones create a balance sheet to record their income, expenses, goals, and budget. However, this is usually too tedious and boring for some kids who prefer something more engaging.
Famzoo solves this by allowing the family to have their own virtual bank with an individual account for each family member. You, the parent, are the bank manager and your kids are your clients, and you get to oversee how they use their finances. Depending on the rules you set, you can automate their allowance, pay interest on their savings, offer loans payable on installment, have a payroll for chores (and penalties for not doing their job), and even deduct money from their paycheck (akin to social security contributions) that will go to their savings. In other words, you are still in control even while teaching your kids responsibility.
Meanwhile, your kids can monitor their expenses and savings, budget their money, and split it into different accounts. Again, depending on what rules you set, they can also learn about interests, penalties, and so on.
There are two account options that you can choose from:
· The prepaid card account is a MasterCard reloadable card that uses real money to back your child's Famzoo account. This can be used as a debit card -- to pay for purchases from certain merchants. This option for teaching financial literacy for kids uses a "parent funding card" as the source of funds.
· With the IOU account, you use Famzoo for tracking your children's finances but you keep their money elsewhere. For instance, your daughter hands you $50 that she got as a birthday gift -- you put the money in your wallet but you enter the amount in her IOU account, so her balance is $50. When she asks to have $20 from her savings (and you allow her), you hand her the cash and you log it in her account as a withdrawal. Thus, she will see that there's only $30 left in her account.
Famzoo can be used by kids of all ages. Many parents have seen how their children have become more aware and more responsible about their finances after they started using the app. They also like the convenience it offers as well as the options available, and the fees are reasonable given the valuable experience the service offers.
Money management for kids helps them appreciate the value of living within their means even while they are still growing up. It also teaches them to set up financial goals and find ways to achieve them by saving and investing. Moreover, they can learn about banking, wages, loans and interests, among other things, so they won't fall into the financial traps that many adults are struggling to get out of. There is no doubt that they will appreciate this when they grow up.
Technology has deprived a lot of kids of the kind of fun that only physical play gives. Instead of building pretend forts, dressing up as doctors, or imagining themselves as medieval knights, they sit in front of the computer or use the tablet for hours on end. If you want your children, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren to become more active and experience the joy of pretend play, then you can subscribe to My Pretend Place, a company that will ship kiddie costumes right at your doorstep.
Playing pretend or role playing is beneficial for our kids' development. It not only boosts their imagination and creativity, it also helps in the development of their language skills. Moreover, they learn to solve problems by trying to figure things out on their own (e.g., how to support a makeshift wall, what to use as pretend food, how much their "merchandise" should cost, and so on).
Apart from that, they get to experiment on social roles, learning to "walk a mile someone else's shoes," so to speak. Through pretend play, they develop emotional skills – learning empathy as well as healthy give-and-take relationships. When playing with other kids, they experience cooperation, negotiation, and getting along with others. It teaches them self-regulation and civility.
Moreover, we can observe how our kids view the people and the world around them. For instance, the way they act when they pretend to be Teacher or Dad can give us clues on how they think about their grownups. In other words, make-believe games allow our children to express their thoughts and feelings, both positive and negative.
My Pretend Place encourages role playing and make-believe activities. They offer themed boxes for kids 3 to 6 years old, each one containing a dress-up costume, an inspirational book, and craft or creativity items. The available themes are astronaut, ballerina, chef, construction, cowboy, doctor, fairy, firefighter, magician, ninja, pilot, pirate, princess, rockstar, safari, superhero, and veterinarian.
Each dressing up box will be sent to your home either every month or every 3 months, depending on the subscription you choose. You have two options when you subscribe. For the first one, you select the gender (boy, girl, or neutral) and the company will send you their favorite themes; for the second, you can select the themes you are interested in and put them in the order you want them delivered.
Along with the pretend play toys, your child receives a letter signed by a fictional character, which is a nice way to start their adventures in their make-believe world. The box also comes with a handle so it can be turned into a suitcase for all the items. This can be helpful in teaching children to pack away and care for their things properly.
My Pretend Place has received a lot of positive reviews from parents. Chris Acree, a mother of three, says in her review on My Subscription Addiction that even her eldest, a girl of 8, loves their Chef theme box. Tom, a father, also wrote on Hello Subscription about how much his son enjoys their Veterinarian pretend play toys.
In all, many parents say that their kids love not just receiving the packages but also playing with the items. They admire the quality of the products and the convenience of having them in one dressing up box over having to shop for the items individually.
There are parents who want to encourage their little kids to read but find that it’s not always an easy task. For one thing, there are so many titles to choose from and more are coming out everyday; for another, it takes time to review books to see which ones are suitable for children of a particular age. This becomes all the more difficult if there are no bookstores nearby and the kids have to tag along. Bookroo takes these obstacles away so parents can focus on reading to and with their children.
What is Bookroo?
Bookroo is a company that aims to help parents build their kids’ book collection. Every month, they deliver a Book Box containing either three board books suited for kids 0 to 2 years old or two picture books for kids 2 to 6 years old. Parents can also choose both packages, with the second at a discounted price, or alternate between the two. Subscriptions are for 1, 3, 6, or 12 months.
When the package arrives in the mail, the kids get to open what looks like gift-wrapped presents. Inside are the books that have been pre-selected and chosen because they are age-appropriate and enjoyable.
The review process is done by 12 families with at least one parent taking a graduate degree at Stanford University. The parents and their combined 22 kids (0 to 5 years old) sift through different titles and rank them accordingly. Only the best – the ones most enjoyed by kids and parents alike – make the cut. The process leads to discoveries of great titles that are not widely known.
Why is Bookroo Good for Kids?
Reading is a very important activity for children since it helps build their vocabulary, comprehension, imagination, creativity, and self-confidence, and it is the parents’ job to encourage them to develop a love for books.
With a fresh set of titles each month, delivered by Bookroo right at your doorstep, the process of building your kid’s library becomes easier, more exciting, and more enjoyable. The whole family can look forward to regularly sharing new stories and meeting new characters and revisiting them over and over again.
What Parents Have to Say About Bookroo
Parents who left reviews on Cratejoy have nothing but good things to say about Bookroo. One of the many factors that they appreciate is, it’s a great way to discover new books. They like the fact that the ones they receive are unique – titles that they would otherwise not have found on their own. But the best part seems to be how excited the kids are when they open their “presents” and read right away.
Elementary school librarian Jessica Telesmanich said in one of her posts that her two kids love it when the new books arrive every month. The readers of her reviews agree, although one parent wishes that Bookroo would add books for big kids, too.
Reading is a fun activity that parents and kids can share, and Bookroo’s Book Box makes it even more exciting. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even family friends can also take part by giving it as a gift for the little ones.
In this age of computers, tablets, and mobile phones, many parents forget the importance instilling in their kids the love for books. Technology and books do not have to go separately, though; instead, they can be used to complement each other. For instance, you can rent books online at Booklender.com.
What is Booklender.com?
Booklender.com is a website from which you can borrow books for yourself and your kids at a reasonable price. Their catalog, which you can browse on the web, has an extensive list of titles under different categories such as inspirational, biographies, science fiction, self-help, among others. To date, the book selections under Children & Young Adults total to more than 30,000, which include both fiction and non-fiction. Even children who have yet to learn or are still learning to read can enjoy listening to the more than 4,000 audio books available. Audio books can also be played during family time, while in the car, or even while doing chores. In other words, you can rent a book online for the enjoyment of the whole family.
Why Rent Books for Your Kids?
Books are important because they help not only in developing a child’s vocabulary and language skills but also in enhancing their imagination and critical and analytical thinking. Reading stimulates their mind, increases their knowledge, builds their confidence, and helps in developing independence. Non-fiction books gives them factual information while fiction books open up worlds for them. Moreover, books provide hours of entertainment and helps in relaxation.
However, regularly buying new books for your kids can put a dent in your pocket. It also becomes a problem when you don’t have a lot of space to keep them. The solution is to rent books online, which is less costly than buying, read and enjoy them, then return them so there’s no issue about storage.
What People Say About Booklender.com
Many customers who like book renting online are recommending Booklender.com. They like not only the fact that they can discover new authors but also because the company’s customer service is highly commendable.
Maureen, a parent from Orlando, Florida, particularly likes that the books for kids are categorized by age. If you look at the list, the books are divided into ages 0 to 2, 3 to 5, 6 to 8, and 9 to 12 years old, into fiction and non-fiction, and then by topic. The mom of three opted to borrow six books from the online booklender at a time, which is shipped to their home along with a prepaid envelope for use when she returns what she borrowed.
How It Works
There are different plans available so you can select which one suits your budget and lifestyle best. For instance, if you choose the unlimited plan, you have the option to receive paperback books, audiobooks, or a combination. You can then choose the number of books you want to receive at a time and whether you want to pay monthly, semi-annually or annually. You can also opt to rent titles individually.
Browse the catalog for the books you want. You can put 10 to 15 titles on queue, and the company will send the next set of books once you send the current set back.
Book renting sites like Booklender.com are a good alternative to libraries and bookstores. With no due dates, free shipping, and the option to cancel anytime, the book renting service is an excellent choice to keep your kids – and the whole family – reading.
All children learn ABC as a start to pick up English. For parents, there’s actually another set of ABC to learn and master in life. This ABC model helps parents and children change unhelpful or unhealthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
You may have observed how kids (and even grownups) react differently toward certain situations. For example, it rains heavily on a long-awaited picnic day and the trip gets cancelled. One child gets very upset, throws a tantrum, and refuses to talk to his parents. Another child, while also initially upset, finds something to do indoors instead. Many might conclude that the first child is simply reacting to the event (the cancellation of the picnic because of the rain), but if it’s the event that has created the resultant response, then everyone should be behaving the same ways. So what makes the difference, though, is the way we think. And this is what the ABC model is about.
This is the situation or specific event and is usually something that cannot be controlled.
For example, your daughter’s friend cannot go to their planned playdate because her relatives arrived at their house.
Once the event takes place and the person interprets it, they form beliefs. These beliefs can be either rational or irrational.
With the above example, your daughter might react negatively and conclude that her friend cannot be relied upon. On the other hand, she might react more sensibly and think that being with her relatives is a special and rare occasion for her friend and that the two of them can just play next time.
This part involves the thoughts and feelings that the person harbors, as well as the actions they take, after forming those beliefs.
For instance, if your daughter comes up with the belief that her friend cannot be trusted, she may start to mope or get angry or she might start avoiding her friend all together. Meanwhile, if the belief is positive, then your daughter could find something else to do to fill her time and look forward to when she’d meet her friend again.
In a nutshell, though we cannot change A, if we can change B, then we can change C. Also, with C being the activating event of somebody else, changing C is actually going to change A of a new event.
The key to knowing ABC model is that it will give you higher level of awareness when you or your loved ones are responding to certain event negatively. With awareness, you will then have the options to review what has happened and even change your thinking to get a different result, rather than treating yourself as the victim without anything to do.
(A) I failed in math test
(B) I will never be able to understand those difficult math concept
(C) Lost interest in math study
(A1) I failed in math test
(B1) I am not studying hard enough
(C1) I will practice more for my next test
Sometimes a limiting belief will cause us to make a negative judgment or conclusion. With awareness, we can ask ourselves whether there are other possibilities that will turn our conclusion into a more constructive one, one that can benefit ourselves more. In example 2, having a total different belief is actually causing a completely different action to take. You can expand your options by thinking of more different possibilities. These are just a few of the possible options:
I failed in math test à I haven’t mastered this specific concept well enough à I am going to seek help to understand this math concept better
I failed in math test à Though I’m not good at math, it’s important for me to master the subject as it will help me move on with other subjects I’m more interested
I’m bringing up the ABC model here because I think it’s equally important for kids to learn this ABC as the ABC in letter. It will help parents understand our kids better so that we can find ways to expand their thinking for more constructive responses. While we cannot change what will happen to us, we can guide our kids to focus on changing their irrational thinking or limiting believes.
What if I've made the wrong decision?
What if we didn't have kids?
What if we eat pizza rather than Chinese food?
What if we had a son instead of a daughter?
What if we save more money?
"What if" is a question that we commonly use in our daily lives, but because we often ask it unconsciously, we don't usually notice it. For instance, in the back of your mind, you might ask yourself, "What if I do this instead of that?" or "What if I take this direction rather than the other?"
In coaching, "what if" is actually seen as a very powerful tool to get a client out of a "stuck state." Asking it consciously opens up bigger possibilities and might even bring a person to an AHA moment. Utilizing the "what if" thinking allows us to maximize the present while securing the future.
However, asking "what if" incorrectly can become a limiting belief that keeps you from moving forward. "What if I make a blunder" and "what if I say the wrong thing" are two examples of questions that can hold you back instead of help you move ahead.
The question is so powerful that it can build you up when used positively, but it can also create damage when asked in a negative context. In particular, "what if" questions can make kids with different levels of anxiety worry or fear more. Questions like the following can keep them from being the best they can be:
This type of questions can prevent your child from taking action. It would be best to bring the question out in the conscious level rather than let it eat away at the back of their mind, and reword it in a more positive or neutral way.
For instance, the question "What if I hurt myself doing this?" can be shortened to "What if I do this?" This opens up the possibilities of experiencing something new, enjoying himself and, yes, maybe even getting hurt and learning in the process. The second question above can be reworded to "What if I just go ahead and introduce myself?" and the last one can be reworded to "What if I try?"
As parents, we need to be aware that "what if" can have three outcomes. Let us imagine Anne asking herself, "What if I ask Mary to play with me?"
1. What If --> Positive Scenario --> Moves you forward
In the best case scenario, Mary and Anne become good friends. This builds Anne's confidence, it improves her social life, and she learns that making friends is not so hard.
2. What If --> Negative Scenario --> Stops you or moves you backward, makes you regret
In the worst case scenario, Mary turns down Anne's invitation. This then results in Anne feeling rejected and upset, and she loses confidence in herself.
2. What If --> Neutral Way --> Ecology Check
The most likely scenario is that Mary accepts Anne's invitation. They play together, and what happens after depends on how well they get along.
In other words, asking "what if" in different scenarios can produce different results. Here are other examples:
|Situation||Best Case Scenario||Worst Case Scenario||Most Likely Outcome|
|What if I ask them if I can join the game?||You eventually become the best player and the other kids marvel at your skills.||The other kids say no and you feel dejected.||The other kids let you join.|
|What if I audition for the play?||You land the major role.||You don’t make the cut and you feel embarrassed.||You gain a new experience and learn something from it.|
|What if I draw this idea?||You draw your idea accurately.||Your drawing is not what you want it to be.||You produce a good-enough representation of your idea.|
Now that you’re conscious about how "what if" plays on the mind and body, you can pay more attention to your kid's behavior and see if they’re using the question to move forward or to not take action. You can also help them use the question more intentionally – to bring it to the conscious level – so they can be aware if it is preventing them from reaching their goals.
Most kids are fidgety and do not or cannot stay in one place for long. They also tend to shift from one subject to another during conversation, and they are likely to change activities when they’ve had enough of the first one. Because they generally do not have a long attention span – not in the same way that grownups do anyway – some parents tend to judge their kids as having attention problems.
I did a non-official research on this matter and three of four or 75 percent of parents I talked to think that their kids exhibit a certain level of attention problem. To be more specific, their claims are based mostly on reasons like their kids not being able to sit properly, not able to concentrate, are easily distracted, make careless mistakes with their homework, and so on. Often, the parents’ concern is due to their belief that these behaviors can affect their children’s learning effectiveness and their success in their studies.
I’m writing this article to give parents another perspective from which to look at the situation: instead of immediately thinking of sending your child to training or therapy to improve their concentration and/or attentiveness, it would be a good idea to re-evaluate them first. This means paying extra attention to those instances when they are doing things that they are genuinely interested in.
For example, observe when your son or daughter is reading, drawing, playing board games, having a pretend tea party, building a fort, or doing another activity that they enjoy. If they are able to do it for a significant amount of time, then it is likely that there is no problem with their concentration.
In contrast, kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) lack the ability to concentrate, even on things that are generally interesting for most kids. Their inattention, impulsiveness, and unfocused motor activities tend to be more severe and occurs more often.
Being a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) coach for more than 10 years, the most common concerns I hear from parents are:
1. their kids are not attentive enough
2. their kids exhibit bad academic performance, and
3. their kids fail to control their emotions.
Interestingly, though, among the children I’ve seen, those with real attention or concentration problems (who fail in the concentration test I’ve given them) are actually the rare breed.
So why do some parents think their kids have concentration problems even though they’re tested normal? Here are few possible reasons:
If kids live in insecure environment, it’s difficult for them to concentrate and finish tasks that they would otherwise be able to do if they feel more secure.
For instance, kids cannot have a sense of stability and security if they move to a new house or apartment often. They would have to keep on adjusting to each new place and to try to fit in. Being a new kid in a neighborhood or school is not very easy for many children.
Another example would be kids who are exposed to fights between their parents. They become fearful and feel unsafe in their own home. Ugly words, raised voices, sarcastic remarks – these affect kids more than many grownups can comprehend.
Kids who face these types of situations tend to blame themselves and start believing that they are the problem or a part of it.
To help your child with their concentration, is important to provide them with a secure and comfortable home and learning environment. Also, consistency in your parenting style is vital – you should avoid contradicting yourself, or the grownups in the house should not give conflicting rules or even signals.
Should change be unavoidable, make sure that your child understands that it’s not them who created the mess or they are not responsible for it.
In many cases, our kids exhibit inappropriate behavior either because they are curious about how the grownups would react or because they are trying to get some attention. In either case, their means of getting noticed is by doing naughty things. After all, negative attention is still attention.
However, behaviors like being talkative in class, walking around instead of sitting, and other inappropriate acts tend to create the impression that the child has concentration problems.
To minimize inappropriate behavior, you should avoid over-reacting when your child is being naughty. Rather, state clearly what correct behavior you want to see in them. Also, give more notice to correct actions. For instance, if your child tends to leave the water running in the bathroom, thank them when they do turn the faucet off rather than scold them every time they forget. This way, they would resort to gaining positive attention for positive behavior instead of exhibiting negative behavior to gain negative attention.
More importantly, make time for your child. When they speak, turn away from the computer screen, face them, and listen attentively. When you’re reading or doing other activities together, turn off your phone’s ringer. Spend more time with your child so they don’t resort to other things just to get your attention.
There are usually underlying reasons why kids are unable to focus, and one of them is that they don’t understand. It could be that they can’t grasp the lesson because it’s beyond their ability level, or they don’t know why they have to do a particular activity. For example, a child may question why they have to go to school or why have to do their homework.
Not being able to understand a concept or not knowing the underlying reason behind what they’re doing usually leads to frustration. Therefore, it’s important for parents to observe what their kids are having difficulty with and provide an explanation when needed.
For example, if your child is having difficulty with math and is asking what it is good for in real life, you can use their interests to explain. Say that scientists use it to measure the distance between planets and stars, or to figure out how deep the sea is, or to find out how fast a storm is moving. Without math, no one would know how old or how tall they are.
Moreover, choose age-appropriate activities for your child. When they not doing an activity properly, say playing the piano, motivate them by explaining why they need to practice. Arousing your child’s interest in various tasks is far more important than finishing them.
I’ve seen parents who arrange a full-day schedule of activities for their children of only 3 or 4 years old. These include learning Spanish, attending drawing class, piano class, swimming class, and many others. The parents then complain to me that their kids have lost motivation and are not passionate about what they do.
While it’s okay to let children try various activities, it’s not okay to force them into any or all of them, just because it interests us or it would make our child look impressive. Kids, although young, will have a sense of what they like or dislike. Instead of pre-arranging everything for them, only to turn out that they have no interest at all, why not let them decide what they want to do and learn?
We all care about the growth and development of our own kids, but always remind yourself that the kids are also responsible for their own growth and development. We should let them experience the process and take responsibility for the consequences.
For example, I see some parents perceive kids’ homework time as their own homework time – they sit next to their children to make sure they complete the work. Unfortunately, they are actually educating the kids that homework is their parents’ responsibility. This then results in the pupils’ inability to do their own work properly when their parents are not there to help.
It’s possible that the little ones may create mistakes when you are not next to them. It’s possible that they may run around instead of sitting quietly when they are working on their homework. Just let them do that, let them experience the process, let them know what consequences will come with how they behave.
Next time, before you think of sending your kids to some sort of attention / concentration training, do think about the things you can do in order to motivate them. Children are natural born learners and they are curious about anything. Make things fun for them, let them do things that suit their age, and arrange a suitable amount of activities for them to do. Pay them proper attention but give them room to grow. Let them enjoy their life as kids, the time when they are learning and growing and experiencing new things, and they will have great things to look back to when they grow up.