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5 Things Every Child Needs To Be Successful In Life

5 Things Every Child Needs To Be Successful In Life

It’s safe to say that we want every child to grow up to be successful, good citizens of our society. Where some children lack with some skills, they pick up later on. Whether from circumstances or a good adult mentor, children are like sponges, waiting to absorb as much as possible.

For the most part, we do a pretty good job of preparing our children for what lies ahead, yet fall short in other areas. However, at times, we have grown lazy and complacent in our roles to guide them.

No matter who we are or where we come from, certain principles will always be a part of our success, regardless of what that success looks like.

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With a higher than ever number of teenage and young adult suicides occurring in this county, we need to revisit the needs of our children to ensure they are prepared for the turmoils and struggles life will bring to them once they are out into the “real” world on their own. Nowadays, kids are better at hiding behind their devices—like the fake smile they share with people at school—yet they have never felt more distant from people than they do now.

Here are the necessities every kid needs:

1. A reliable environment

Children need to know they are protected (as much as possible) from the outside world. As they begin to develop, their senses are heightened based on what is around them. If there is constant moving around, children find it difficult to feel safe. They naturally begin to wonder why they are being moved from place to place. This is especially true of children who are moved from foster home to foster home. Their surroundings must remain stable and consistent. They relate to knowing where to find their favorite stuffed animal in their room, for example. It helps them develop trust.

Believe it or not, kids love the familiarity that comes with routines. It helps them understand appropriate boundaries and, as they age, they begin to express their own boundaries on their environment and on the people they are surrounded by.

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2. Opportunities to grow

Kids will not grow unless we give them chances to learn. Whether it be something like learning how to count out money or change a flat tire, it is important for kids to experience real life as it is. Their potential is tied to the moments they are allowed to go outside their normal comfort zone and test their skills. It is in the need to practice what is learned that kids begin to understand why and when these skills will be used later on in life. If we shelter them from learning how to make their own lunch or when to go to a teacher for help, we are doing them a disservice. Time is an essence of life that no one can stop, let alone distort. Growth is merely a stretching of knowledge and kids needs as much knowledge as we can give them.

3. Connectivity

When kids are little, they find comfort in people that care for them. The ones that comfort them when they are afraid and hurt. Whether from a simple touch to eye contact, we as a species need to feel connected to others. When kids feel disassociated from people, they are more insecure and never feel like they belong anywhere.

Emotionally distant adults can give children the illusion that there is something wrong with them, leaving them confused, damaging their self-esteem for a very long time. We associate ourselves as members of a “tribe” also known as a family and when children are young, they need that association—not just because those are generally the people who care for them, but because it is part of their identity.

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4. Encouragement

Words and actions matter and young children need positive encouragement to help them get back up. Too often, adults are quick to point out errors and shortcomings, leaving the child with only mistakes to hold onto. A child will believe whatever is said to them most. Optimism shared with a child can make the biggest difference, giving a kid permission to keep going when he or she would have quit. The boost we give to children supports who they are. By celebrating their individuality along with their given talents and gifts, we inspire a generation where possibility and dreams live vividly. Every word of encouragement and every supportive action confirms our belief in that child, as we become their greatest role models.

5. Problem solving skills

We can’t fix everything. Nor should we try. In order for kids to learn how to think and come up with solutions to everyday issues, they must be allowed to do so. Our role is not to come in and change everything for the best for them. We again are doing them a disservice by not allowing them to pick themselves back up. Whether they forget their homework at home or run out of gas, they need to experience those problems in order to know how to fix them. As adults, we must condition them to be independent thinkers and grant them permission to explore their own potential. Unrestricted behavior as it relates to life’s “hiccups” allows moments to figure out how to be successful. Failure must be a part of life in order for success to be a result of it.

On any given day, most kids spend only 18 years with their parents. Although that sounds like a really long time, those 18 years will never cover every experience or moment that child will need in order to go out into the world prepared to deal with it. If they are lucky, they will live another 70 years.

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As a child grows into adulthood, these five things never truly disappear…they just look a little different. The safe environment becomes a home and a college degree allows one to share knowledge with others. There is a new appreciation of connecting with people. We are drawn to the inspirational words that give us hope, and we are more confident with courage and strength we couldn’t have found had we not been tested.

Success has many different looks, but they all start the same way.

In the eyes of every child, we see endless possibility.

Featured photo credit: Danielle McInnes/Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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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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