BOOSTING YOUR CHILD’S CONFIDENCE TO COUNTER ANXIETY

It is fairly indisputable that we are living in anxious times. Who isn’t worried or concerned about something right now? Whether we realize it or not, so are our children. At a young age, children don’t have all the coping mechanisms needed to combat this level of anxiety. One great way you can help them overcome any level of anxiety they may be feeling is by improving their confidence. When a child, or anyone for that matter, is feeling good about themselves, they have an easier time being positive and seeing positive around them. There is several moments a day that present themselves as opportunities to build confidence in your child.

Be a good finder! When a gold miner goes into the mine, they are looking for gold, not dirt, however they will move tons of dirt before getting to the gold. Their focus remains the gold. Being a good finder with your child means pointing out the good they do, even when it is not perfect. One good way to do this is by utilizing the positive correction model of Praise-Challenge-Praise. Another great way to boost your child’s confidence and make them feel purposeful is to let them help out more. Often times children ask to do something that they see as helpful, but we as parents feel it is too difficult for them, or we fear it will create more work for us, so we say no. During these times, our children are hearing a lot of “no” – no you can’t go to school, no you can’t go to camp, no you can’t have a party. Try to find ways to say “yes” to letting them be more helpful.

An important thing to remember in regard to your child’s confidence and anxiety is that children are always watching and listening. It may not seem like it, but they are always taking in everything around them. It is often said when around children, “You cannot not teach!” During these times, when there are so many unknowns, children are supertuned to your cues. If you are having frustrations or struggles with a current situation such as working from home or home-schooling, this is a perfect time to model positive self-talk. While praising a child is a great way to make them feel good about themselves, be careful not to praise for everything. You want to praise for the things they control such as effort, progress, hard work, persistence and learning from a mistake. You do not want to praise for things that can be seen as being born with or have by luck such as talent, being smart, being gifted or not making mistakes.

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Working From Home with Kids

One new challenge that many parents are facing is navigating a new world of working from home, with a child home as well! Whether it is the inability to find a quiet place to work, or constant interruptions while working or maybe trying to find the time to work when there is so much to be done for your child, it is not an easy task! But work is important and needs to be done, so this challenge will be overcome. With some planning, scheduling and preparation you can avoid noise and interruptions and be focused and productive at your new work environment.

Consistency is key! Whenever possible, make your work from home time the same time every day. Teach your child that between these hours you are working and are unable to entertain them. While you want your child to know you are unavailable during the time you are working, you also want them to feel safe and know that you are available for emergencies. Just make sure to outline in advance what an emergency is, otherwise, you may find yourself with an interruption over a missing video game or lack of fruit snacks! In addition to feeling safe, you also want your child to feel important. Let them know that their needs are still being met, even though you are working. If possible, set them up with a planned activity during the time you are working, so they are busy independently and not feeling left out having “free time”. You can even make this time special for them with something such as a video game that they only get to play while you are working.

A great way to reinforce their behavior while you are working is to establish a reward system when you are done with work. For this to be most effective, the reward needs to be given immediately after you work time is complete. Do not honor the reward if your child interrupts your work for a non-emergency. One of the best, effective and free reward you can give your child is one-on-one time with you. For example, “I need to work from 9-2pm today. If you let me focus on work during that time, as soon as I am done at 2pm I will watch a movie of your choice with you.” Working from home is no easy feat, but not only is it possible, it is a great opportunity to model the focus, effort and positive attitude you would like your child to have during schoolwork! All it takes is a little bit of planning, preparation and a lot of
consistency!

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Children Love To Help

Children naturally want to help. They love being included and feeling important. Chores are a great way to fulfill that need, boost their confidence, and help lessen your To-Do list at the same time! It may feel like you are at a constant battle to get your child to do what they are supposed to do, but when approached the right way they will be asking to do even more!

The key to having a child that wants to help more is by making them feel in control. Choices make children feel in control. The choice isn’t between doing the chore and not doing the chore. The choice you should be between two equal chores. I.e.: put the clean dishes away or vacuum the rugs.

Don’t be afraid to give them chores that will challenge them. Taking away challenges make chores “boring”. Children find challenges interesting and are a great way to boost their confidence. The prouder they feel of the chores they accomplish, they more they will want to do. This is especially true when it comes to allowing them to do a chore they ask to do, but you feel is too hard for them. If, for example, they want to cook supper for the family but are too young to handle a stove or knife safely, there are still ways to say “yes”. You can find a recipe that does not involve the stove or cutting. It may not be a meal you would normally make for supper and it may not be what everyone wants to eat, but for that day it makes your child proud and confident that they fed their family. You could also stick with your original meal plan and give them tasks that are safe. For instance, you cut up the ingredients beforehand and have your child add them to the pot or have them gather all the supplies and ingredients before you get started.

Be careful not to use chores as a punishment. This makes chores seem negative and not something they should “want” to do. Chores are something everyone in the house needs to do for the home to run smoothly, no something you need to do because you were “bad”. Be sure to praise and reward once the chore is completed. Related rewards work best: “Now that you put the dishes away, we can make cookies” or “Since you cleaned your room, your friend can sleep over.”

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Praise-Challenge-Praise

 

Positive correction is a way of correcting a child while still boosting their confidence and keeping them motivated to keep trying. No one likes to make mistakes or be wrong. If a child feels like they are always wrong, they will want to stop trying. This can be the case for schoolwork, sports, or even chores at home.

An effective form of positive correction is Praise-Challenge-Praise. In this model, your first task is to find and point out something positive and correct your child did, before making the correction or “challenge”. This prevents the first thing a child hearing after trying something from being negative. If they hear something positive first, they will keep listening and be more willing to accept the correction you need to make.

The second step is to make the correction, in a challenge format. Using a challenge format means instead of pointing out something they need to change you point out a way you know they can improve. After the correction is made, praise them for accepting the challenge. It might look something like this: “You did a great job letting mom work from home undistracted this morning! I’m going to need you to clean up the mess you made while I was working and put all the toys away. Way to go! You let me work and picked up after yourself! You rock!” This will do wonders for their confidence and making them want to help and pick up after themselves as opposed to, “All I wanted was to work from home without and disruptions, and I finish work to find this mess! You were supposed to play without making a mess! Pick it up!”

Praise-Challenge-Praise not only helps the child by improving their confidence and motivation, but also helps the parents by using a positive frame and avoiding fighting and yelling.

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Positive Self Talk

There are several well-known benefits to positivity. People who consider themselves positive can expect to live longer, be healthier, have more friends, do better in school and in their career, make more money. These are all benefits we can probably all agree would be great to have. But how can we become positive and reap the benefits?

One effective and simple way to help you be a more positive person is positive self-talk. Everyone has an internal dialogue. This dialogue can be both negative and positive. Shifting your inner voice to be more positive than negative can greatly improve your performance and general well-being. If you have a habit of hosting an negative inner dialogue, the shift can be challenging, and it will take time, but if you keep your eyes on the benefits you are looking to gain, there are ways you can strengthen your positive inner-voice on a daily basis.

Counter Negatives with a Positive:

Turn “I can’t do this” into “This is a challenge, but I’ve got it!” and “This is impossible” to “This is all brand new to me, but I am ready to learn!” How Are You Feeling?: Some days we feel more negative than others, and default to our negative thoughts. When you catch yourself feeling like you are having a “bad day”, evaluate your self-talk and consider ways to turn it around.

You Are Who You Hang Out With:

It is easy to take on the emotions of those around you. Surround yourself with positive people when you can.

Affirmations:

Simple, positive words can be enough to redirect your thoughts. Use the environments you spend the most time (office, bedroom, bathroom) to post inspiring words and images.

Positive self-talk is a habit formed over a lifetime. Keep at it and enjoy the positive benefits!

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Stop Summer Brain Drain!
The “Summer Brain Drain,” also known as the “Summer Slide,” is a parent’s worst nightmare. It’s when your child’s months of hard work–hours upon hours of math homework, late nights working on science projects, and car rides spent quizzing history flashcards–all begin to slip away. It’s a decay in learning, which then can have a domino effect on a child’s physical, emotional and social development.
Ever wonder how knowledge retention works? Here’s what we know. Skills deteriorate over time at a rate determined by the specified task, predicted by the individual’s original level of learning. Therefore, the method yielding the highest initial learning level will lead to the highest level of skill retention over time. When summer break rolls around, learning takes a dramatic stop. In just a short amount of time the “Summer Brain Drain” begins and so begins the downward snowball in development areas.
Physical
The Problem: Children gain weight nearly twice as fast over the summer because they are snacking more often, many times out of boredom or lack of proper supervision. At the same time, many children are also less active over the summer because they sleep in longer, watch TV longer, play video games longer, etc. Although it may seem like they are more active over the summer, the lack of structure contributes to weight gain.
The Solution: Even just two days of structured physical activity, like martial arts, over the summer can have a dramatic positive effect on children’s physical activities at home. They will feel more energized and, therefore, more likely to engage in other physical activities throughout the summer.
Intellectual
The Problem: To be blunt, the “Summer Brain Drain” is what happens when kids spend the summer months without learning or practicing their skills, leading them to fall behind on measures of learning and academic achievements. During the school year teachers, assistants, and counselors are focused on helping children learn and grow. But what happens during the summer season when these people are not around? A decline in cognitive development.
The Solution: Child psychologists state that children who maintain some sense of a structured activity during the summer, like martial arts, do better in the initial months of the new academic school year. Martial Arts training through the summer reinforces a time commitment, necessity to practice, reminds students to follow through, and gives them the learning environment they need to reinforce the skills they’re learning, which in turn strengthens their retention of academic knowledge.
Emotional
The Problem: When the school year ends, children lose a lot of key contributors that boost self-esteem…teachers, counselors, coaches, etc. This leads to less confidence entering the back to school season. Children that lose self-esteem over the summer enter the new school season with many fears associated with making new friends, meeting new teachers, and bullying.
The Solution: Structured martial arts classes provide a great environment for building children’s emotional development in a manner that is positive and productive, helping to ensure confidence, self-esteem, and emotional well-being.
Social
The Problem: Children that do not have proper social development over the summer tend to misbehave when they enter the new school season. At the same time, children that do not have sufficient positive social interaction over the summer enter the new school season with more anxiety.
The Solution: Martial Arts classes include daily classroom activities that strengthen children’s emotional outlook. In fact, children that are more confident enter the new school season excited about all of the wonderful opportunities that schooling has to offer!
Many people have an image of summer being a carefree happy time where “kids can be kids,” and take for granted the benefits of enriching experiences from organized activities. Even just two times per week in a structured program can make a tremendous difference in a child’s intellectual development over the summer, which ultimately helps with their physical, emotional, and social development as well. Do your research and find a program provides these benefits in a manner that is also fun so that kids can still be kids and not lose that carefree and happy summer lifestyle.
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