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The Art Of Parenting: 10 Invaluable Lessons To Pass On To Your Kids

The Art Of Parenting: 10 Invaluable Lessons To Pass On To Your Kids

By the time your newborn has collected himself enough to be able to grab your finger and smile, you probably have his entire life planned out for him. Holding your baby for the first time, you see all of his hopes, dreams, and accomplishments throughout his lifetime laid about before you as if they were drawn on your hospital gown. Perhaps it’s around this time when you realize you don’t have the slightest clue of how to make these dreams a reality. After all, you’re new to this whole parenting thing. So much can possibly go wrong that it’s tough to imagine everything going right. Don’t be intimidated. As long as you impart the following notions to your child over the course of his lifetime, he will turn out just fine.

1. Seek Wisdom

There’s a saying that goes something like: “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in fruit salad.” Don’t just ensure that your child grows up knowing a lot of factual information. Teach him the importance of being able to use this knowledge to be productive in life. Reading with your child on a daily basis is a good start, but he must also learn to utilize the lessons and information gleaned, whether it’s how to treat others, or how to make homemade lasagna. The smartest person in the world can make unwise decisions; make sure your child knows how to choose the right path.

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2. Show Gratitude

A funny thing happens in November. When Thanksgiving rolls around, everyone all of a sudden starts boasting about how grateful they are for everything they have in life. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but there is definitely something inherently wrong with being superficially thankful simply because it’s the time of the year in which it’s popular to do so. Teach your children to spend time every day thinking of the advantages they have, and praising the people who have given them these advantages. Teach them to write thank-you cards after a party, and to recognize when someone has gone out of their way to help them. Expressing gratitude is the best way to show someone else how much they matter in this world.

3. Have good manners

“Please” and “thank you” go a long way in today’s world. But good manners go beyond simple words. Teach your children how to behave at the dinner table, in public, and when they are guests in other people’s homes. The way they act toward others sets the stage for how they will be perceived in society. Well-mannered children will grow into respectful and respectable adults who will make great first impressions in their personal and professional lives, which will put them on the path to true success.

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4. Have compassion

There are so many people in this world that are much less fortunate than anyone currently reading this. Teach your children to help those in need – especially those who cannot help themselves. Being compassionate stems from being grateful, as having compassion requires children to first think of the things they have that others might not. When children learn to help others, they are not just exhibiting a knowledge of gratitude; they also use this gratitude in an actionable manner.

5. Be truthful

When children mess up, they have a hard time telling the truth. This may be due to the idea that they’ll “get in trouble” for what they’ve done, so they’ll do their best to skirt the issue. As parents, it’s important to impart in our children the idea that it’s much more important to tell the truth and learn from the mistake made than to lie and continue making that same mistake over and over. If a child lies, it’s because he’s afraid of what will happen to them. They have to feel safe coming to you when they screw up. Of course, you will need to show your disappointment in their negative behavior, but always remember to reinforce how proud you are of them for admitting they were wrong.

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6. Advocate for yourself

Teach your children that they should stand up for what they believe in. This can be tough to do, because going against the grain has the potential to land them in trouble. But if they feel that they’re being treated unfairly, they should be confident enough to stand up for themselves. And they should always know you have their back, no matter what.

7. Money management

Teach children the value of a dollar when they’re young. Set an allowance, and give them chores which they will complete to earn this allowance. While there’s no problem with bringing home a special gift every once in a while, make sure your children learn the importance of saving up for something they really want. As they grow, help them diversify their “income” into short- and long-term savings, so they start to learn the basics of budgeting their money. When they get even older, start taxing them so you can slowly get back all the money you’ve ever given them (just kidding…).

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8. How to handle failure

This is a big one. Many children are so afraid of not doing well that they never take a risk and try something new. In classrooms, children feel uncomfortable experimenting with a new math problem if they haven’t been given explicit instruction on how to solve it, and will often need their teacher to “give them the OK” every single step of the way. It’s important to instill in your children the notion that failure is not a dead-end road. Pencils have erasers for a reason. Life is a series of successes and setbacks; it’s how they handle the setbacks that determine how great their successes are.

9. Keep promises

Children should know that a promise is a sacred contract that should never be broken, and should be taken seriously. In fact, once children make a promise, you should make it their utmost priority. If they promised to clean their room, but have to be told five times that day to do it, they haven’t kept their promise. A promise isn’t something to be completed on their own terms; it’s a vow that they will give something of themselves for another person, and will do so as humanly possible. Make sure they know not to make promises on a whim, because the other party will put a trust in that promise that will be hard to earn back if broken.

10. Keep learning

Walk into any high school class and you’ll certainly find a large portion of children who are bored to death. Knowing that those teenagers were once toddlers who were dying to know everything about the world around them is downright depressing. Parents should encourage their children to learn something new every day, and never give up that childlike sense of wonder. There’s so much to know about life, and so much that still hasn’t been figured out yet. Instill in your children the idea that they could make the next big discovery if they continue striving to learn all they can, every day of their life. Being a life-long learner is perhaps the most important step in becoming a successful adult.

Featured photo credit: Flickrr via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

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Published on May 7, 2021

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

  1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
  2. Introduce brain breaks.

Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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Active Brain Breaks

Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

1. Swapsies

Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

2. Dance Party

Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

3. Freeze Dance

Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

4. Keep It Up

Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

5. Simon Says

This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

6. Animal Movement

Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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7. Find It Fast

“Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

8. The Frog

Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

9. Pizza Delivery Time

Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

10. Limbo

We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

11. Human Knot

Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

12. Feather Balance

This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

13. Stack them high

The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

Relaxing Brain Breaks

We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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14. Meditation

Meditation

is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

15. Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

16. Reading/Listening to a Story

When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

17. Doodling

My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

18. Coloring Sheets

Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

19. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing

is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

20. Going Outside

Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

Final Thoughts

Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
[2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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