Posted in Parenting

Improve Response Inhibition

Who's Turn Is It? 94

 

Response inhibition is the ability to cease or delay an action and to be able to reflect rather than display impulsive behavior. Simply put, response inhibition helps individuals to stop and think before acting. It also helps one to ignore outside interference. This skill allows a child to plan and display appropriate behaviors. Response inhibition is imperative in tasks such as maintaining safety, problem solving efficiently, and behaving in a socially appropriate manner. This skill is also needed for focusing on the task at hand, rather than reacting to other situations in the environment. Follow our recommendations below to improve response inhibition.

Home and School Situations Requiring Response Inhibition

  • Raising one’s hand before answering a question in class
  • Waiting for one’s turn to play in a game or to speak during a conversation
  • Ignoring distractions while working on homework
  • Putting a helmet on before getting on a bike
  • Reading the directions before starting an assignment
  • Being patient with a younger sibling
  • Completing a long, multi-step task
  • Waiting in line at school or at a store
  • Keeping oneself from falling back asleep in the morning
  • Not talking back to one’s parents when upset

Hints and Strategies to Improve Response Inhibition

1. Have your child think about their answer to a question a few seconds before they verbalize the answer. Teach your child to count to 10 before acting. Practice this by counting together out loud before making a decision.

2. Arrange for your child to play games with other children that require them to wait for their turn. An example of a game that involves patience can be “Chutes and Ladders.” An example of a game that involves both patience and concentration, (when counting the number of spaces to move) can be “Trouble.” “Chess” can also be helpful to improve concentration and patience because the game requires the player to be constantly thinking about their next move.

3. Take a break. Let your child take a break from a situation that is upsetting to them. Doing so will keep your child motivated, as well as keep them from growing upset and irritable. Your child may tend to become angry or upset, and possibly give up on a difficult assignment if they are being forced to complete it all at once. For example, if your child has to write a lengthy paper, giving him/her a 10 minute break will allow them to remove him/herself from the stressful situation and begin with a fresh start again after the break. Model the same procedure by showing your child how you take a break to handle a difficult or frustrating experience. Display your own strategies by walking away but later returning to solve a problem.

4. Model response inhibition for your child. Talk to your child about the strategies that you use to exhibit response inhibition and self-control and then model these strategies. For example, you may tell your child, “I really would like to watch TV… but I know I have to clean the basement first.” This will help show your child how to develop a form of response inhibition and structure.

5. Review homework assignment directions with your child so that they know what to do before starting. Discuss what needs to be done and help show your child how to follow the directions. If a teacher assigns a worksheet, have your child read the instructions to you and discuss them, rather than allowing your child to dive in without reading.

6. Encourage your child to play puzzle-based video games. Examples of puzzle-based games include the following: “Bejeweled,” “Tetris,” and “Bubblicious,” in which your child can earn bonus points by delaying a first response. Many of these puzzle games will reward patience when the player is able to combine a number of shapes that match or create a larger pattern rather than simply pairing the first two that fit with each other. Most importantly, ask your child to describe to you how (s)he can earn the maximum number of points; engage in a discussion about how inhibiting or delaying an action results in a higher game score.

7. Encourage high levels of activity during leisure time. Children who struggle with response inhibition often find themselves in trouble due to too much movement. Encouraging your child to exert him/herself when it is appropriate may help in getting your child to sit still when necessary. Teach your child basic yoga, meditation, or breathing techniques. Learning one or more of these strategies can be very useful for children who act before thinking. Regular practice of one or two small techniques is something that can be used in a situation where the child tends to respond quickly and get into trouble. Teaching one or two yoga stretches may be particularly helpful for children with movement-based response inhibition difficulties. For example, learning the “mountain” and “sun salutation” poses (which essentially consists of standing with one’s hands extended above the head and breathing) can be very useful for delaying actions. Further information about a number of yoga poses can be found on http://yoga.about.com.

Games and Activities That Can Practice Response Inhibition

“Choose Your Own Adventure” Books – Encourage your child to read any books in the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series, which will allow him to recognize how each decision made can lead to a distinct consequence.

Playing board games (e.g. “Trouble,” “Chutes and Ladder,” “Candyland”) – These, or similar games, will allow your child to practice waiting for their turn to play, while other players count spaces or play out their own turns.

“Dance Dance Revolution” and “Guitar Hero” – Both of these games enhance response inhibition in that the player must really concentrate and think about which note to play or square to step on in order to achieve success.

“Simon Says” – The traditional game of “Simon Says” will allow your child to practice delaying an action until the appropriate cue is heard.

Freeze Tag -Playing freeze tag with your child or having them play this game with friends or siblings will encourage the stop-and-start action of appropriate behaviors as well as the delaying of impulsive action.

Reading with a partner – Read with your child, alternating turns, to allow for practice in waiting for one’s turn and patience.

Websites and Articles on Response Inhibition

LearningWorks For Kids: The premier resource for executive function information, offering a detailed explanation of response inhibition, tips for parents, and activities to improve this skill.

Education.com: This site offers examples and techniques for parents to use when helping their children to develop self-control.

Illinois Early Learning Project: This site provides tips for instilling impulse control in their children, as well as links to other informative sites on related topics.

National Association of School Psychologists: This handout describes important step-by-step strategies and skills for parents and teachers who are hoping to teach self-control skills to children.

Books on Response Inhibition

Cooper-Kahn, Joyce, Ph.D. and Laurie C. Dietzel. (2008). Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parents’ Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House. [Chapter 11]

Cox, Adam J., Ph.D. (2007). No Mind Left Behind: Understanding and Fostering Executive Control–The Eight Essential Brain Skills Every Child Needs to Thrive. New York, NY: Penguin Books. [Chapter 9]

Dawson, Peg, Ed.D. and Richard Guare, Ph.D. (2009). Smart but Scattered. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. [Chapter 11]

Kulman, Randy, Ph.D. (2012). Train Your Brain for Success: A Teenager’s Guide to Executive Functions. Plantation, FL: Specialty Press, Inc. [Chapter 7]

Richard, Gail J. and Jill K. Fahy. (2005). The Source for Development of Executive Functions. East Moline, IL: Lingua Systems.

Schwarzchild, Michael. (2000) Helping Your Difficult Child Behave: A Guide to Improving Children’s Self-Control-Without Losing Your Own. New York, NY: Authors Guild.

 

Source can be found here.

Posted in Metacognition

Improve Metacognition

Thinking KidMetacognition involves the processes of self-monitoring and observation. It is an opportunity for children to check on their efforts and assess their successes and failures. Simply put, metacognition is thinking about one’s thinking. It is a particularly important function for helping children to gain some perspective on their decision-making and skill development. Metacognition facilitates reflecting on the impact of one’s actions on others by checking on how one has done. To improve metacognition involves asking oneself questions that facilitate defining problems, developing solutions, and assessing successes.

Home and School Situations Requiring Metacognition

  • Understanding personal strengths and weaknesses in academic subjects, athletics, or other extracurricular activities
  • Achieving an awareness of how one’s behavior can impact others
  • Being able to evaluate preparedness for a quiz or performance on a test
  • Following household or classroom rules
  • Articulating feelings when dealing with peers or siblings
  • Checking homework or in-class assignments for mistakes
  • Identifying the steps needed to successfully write a paper or complete a household chore
  • Recognizing consequences for decisions in advance, such as misbehaving at recess or not finishing one’s homework

Hints and Strategies to Improve Metacognition

1. Help your child to self-evaluate using checklists. Before your child begins a chore or task, discuss how you both will determine successful completion of the task and develop a checklist together, to determine how effectively the task has been completed. For example, a checklist for evaluating a successfully cleaned bedroom might include items such as: I made my bed; I put my dirty clothes in the laundry basket; I put my toys in the bin; I put my papers in my desk drawer. You and your child should both complete this checklist after having finished the task and discuss why you each rated the items as you did. Be sure to praise your child for accurate self-evaluations and brainstorm ideas for improving accuracy in the future.

2. Ask your child to try and predict the outcome of a situation. Teach them to think about the different factors and obstacles affecting successful completion of tasks, such as an upcoming science project, a soccer game, or a musical performance. Keep track of these predictions in a journal to serve as a direct reminder for your child, and to be used for later comparisons. After the activity has been completed, discuss your child’s predictions and identify possible reasons for any inaccuracies.

3. Model self-verbalization skills by expressing your thoughts and problem-solving strategies aloud. This will allow your child to identify otherwise hidden metacognitive strategies. For example, verbalize statements such as the following: “This reminds me of the time when we tried to do this” or “I need to think about what worked and what didn’t work the last time we did this.” Encourage your child to use similar self-instructional strategies to aid in problem-solving tasks, such as the following: putting a puzzle together, solving a math problem, or brainstorming for an art project.

4. Provide cues to help your child identify and acknowledge their own strengths and weaknesses. This can be done by making a list, collage, or voice recording of his/her strengths and weaknesses. It is important for your child to recognize that although they may have weaknesses in some areas, they has strengths in others. Being able to identify those strengths and weaknesses is important in developing accurate self-perceptions, as well as positive self-esteem.

5. Have your child explain to you how to succeed at one of his/her favorite videogames or board games. This will allow your child the opportunity to practice reporting how he/she thinks about their step-by-step problem-solving strategies in a game. In many games it is important for players to be able to recognize their current score and how it reflects their performance and capacity within the game. When your child can identify errors of omission and commission in game play, this will allow them to practice identifying strengths and weaknesses.

6. Use your child’s video game playing as an opportunity to help them reflect on their strategic thinking. A good opportunity would be when your child talks about having “beaten a level.” When this occurs, ask your child to think about how they figured out what to do. Ask your child to also identify the mistakes he/she previously made and to then reflect upon how your child has learned from them. The concept of metacognition revolves around an individual being able to step back and think about their thinking. Help your child to understand that this same type of stepping back and trying to find a new way to “beat a level” is something they can try in many situations at home and at school.

7. Next time your child asks for something outrageous or asks to do something that is out of the ordinary, do not say “no.” Instead, say “Let’s think about that” and encourage your child to step back, consider what he/she is asking for, and point out the pros and cons of this activity or acquisition. If you determine this request to be unfeasible, encourage your child to formulate an understanding of what your thoughts are and how he/she might be able to otherwise accomplish what he/she is looking to do or have.

Games and Activities That Can Practice Metacognition

“Big Brain Academy” and “Brain Age” – These games offer your child the opportunity to test his/her “brain” abilities and calls for the player to make accurate self-assessments in order to succeed.

“Rock Band” – Games, such as “Rock Band”, which have distinct roles (i.e. drummer, guitarist, singer) will allow for your child to begin to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of themselves and others.

Athletics – Have your child predict how fast he/she can swim a lap of the pool, how high he/she can jump, or how far he/she can kick a soccer ball to practice achieving accurate predictions.

“Chess,” “Checkers,” and “Connect Four “- These types of strategy games allow for a discussion with your child which includes evaluating what kind of approaches were successful and what new approaches you might try when you next play this game.

Programming a cell phone – Have your child help you set different ring tones and/or pictures for people in your phonebook and discuss how this could be useful in identification of a caller.

Observe people interacting at the grocery store or in the mall – While observing strangers, have your child describe her perceptions of these people and then discuss how your child formed this impression (i.e. facial expressions, body language, verbal cues).

Websites and Articles on Metacognition

LearningWorks for Kids: The premier resource for executive function information, offering a detailed explanation of metacognition, tips for parents, and activities to improve this skill.

US Department of Education: A site which offers additional strategies for developing metacognition, tips for creating a metacognitive environment, and a list of additional resources to consult on this topic.

University of Buffalo: A more technical overview of metacognition that addresses many areas of metacognitive research.

Books on Metacognition

Cooper-Kahn, Joyce, Ph.D. and Laurie C. Dietzel. (2008). Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parents’ Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House. [Chapter 16]

Cox, Adam J., Ph.D. (2007). No Mind Left Behind: Understanding and Fostering Executive Control–The Eight Essential Brain Skills Every Child Needs to Thrive. New York, NY: Penguin Group. [Chapter 8]

Dawson, Peg, Ed.D. and Richard Guare, Ph.D. (2009). Smart but Scattered. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. [Chapter 21]

Kulman, Randy, Ph.D. (2012). Train Your Brain for Success: A Teenager’s Guide to Executive Functions. Plantation, FL: Specialty Press, Inc. [Chapter 10]

Larkin, Shirley. (2009). Metacognition in Young Children. London, England: Routledge.

Richard, Gail J. and Jill K. Fahy. (2005). The Source for Development of Executive Functions. East Moline, IL: Lingua Systems.

Source can be found here.

Posted in Organization

4 Ways Kids Use Organization Skills to Learn

Close-up of child completing a letter worksheet

At a Glance

  • Organization affects learning in four key ways.
  • Weak organization skills affect kids’ ability to store and retrieve information for learning.
  • Math can be particularly hard to learn for kids with weak organization skills.

If your child has organization issues, opening her backpack can be a frightening experience. Crumpled assignments and tests, school announcements from two months ago, her missing house key—it’s a mess! Many people think of organization skills as the ability to keep things in order. But people also use those skills to keep their thoughts in order so they can retrieve information and use it effectively.

Kids who have weak organization skills struggle with handling information in an effective and logical way. They often have difficulty setting priorities, making plans, sticking to a task and getting things done. These skills become increasingly important as your child moves through different grade levels. Here are four ways kids use organization skills to learn.

1. Organization and Following Directions

Following through on directions requires kids to do two things: focus on what needs to be done and come up with a game plan to do it. Both of these require mental organization and planning.

Kids with strong organization skills can often follow directions without even thinking about it. They can plan steps to get something done. But if your child has weak organization skills, she may not be able to see the progression of steps contained in directions or even know where to start.

2. Organization and Learning to Read

Kids use organization skills in subtle ways when first learning to read. Imagine that kids have a mental filing system where they store the uppercase and lowercase version of a letter together with the sound (or sounds) that letter makes. Learning phonics requires connecting sounds to letters. Whenever they see a letter, they can pull out the sound that goes with it from their mental filing system.

The filing system becomes more complicated when kids start recognizing sight words (common words kids memorize by how they look) and need to match them to images of what they stand for. If your child struggles with organization, she may have trouble retrieving the necessary information to connect letters to sounds and groups of letters to the things they stand for.

3. Organization and Literacy Learning

Literacy, which is the combination of reading, writing and grammar skills, requires a number of organization strategies. For kids to read books and write, they have to keep track of many things at once: characters and their relationships, plot, sequences of events, supporting details and the main idea. Nonfiction requires keeping track of subject-specific vocabulary.

If your child struggles with organization she may not be able to gather all that information and organize it. And if she has to stop and look up words while reading, she may not be able to pick up where she left off.

4. Organization and Learning Math

Kids have to use organization skills to learn math because it’s a very organized subject. There are rules and procedures to follow all along the way. Math also involves organizing information based on relationships, such as sorting things into groups by size, color or shape. As math gets more abstract, many kids with organization issues have trouble keeping up because they can’t create their own categories for sorting the information.

Organization skills are also needed to solve word problems using clue words (such as fewer than to mean subtraction) to help sort through information. If your child has organization issues, being able to store and retrieve rules and facts can be challenging.

The Good News: There Are Ways to Help

Your child’s lack of organization might make learning harder for her, but there are strategies that can help. You could try doing a backpack makeover and using checklists and other tools to help her get organized. You can also talk to your child’s teachers about accommodations that could help your child stay organized and improve planning skills.

Key Takeaways

  • Organization skills allow kids to come up with a plan and follow through to get work done.
  • Tools like checklists and planners can help kids get more organized.
  • Weak organization skills can make learning harder, but not impossible.

Source: Understood.org

Posted in Executive Functions Explained

Executive Functioning Issues and Learning: 6 Ways to Help Your Middle-Schooler

At a Glance

  • Some kids with executive functioning issues have trouble thinking flexibly.
  • The more complicated schoolwork of middle school may feel overwhelming to your child.
  • Your child may have trouble remembering information and checking her work—but you can help her improve these skills.

If your child has executive functioning issues, learning difficulties may become more obvious in middle school. It’s a bumpy time for kids anyway, so the more help and support you can offer your child, the smoother the middle school years will be.

Learning Challenge #1

Your child has to write a book report, but after an hour of working on it, she’s still stuck on the first few sentences.

The role of executive functioning issues: Kids with executive functioning issues can have difficulty creating a plan for getting from the beginning to the end of the assignment.

How to help: Show your child how to use a graphic organizer, such as a concept tree or mind map. She can use these tools to put thoughts on paper before beginning to write.

Learning Challenge #2

You try to help with long division using a different technique than the teacher. Your child gets frustrated and insists it has to be done the other way—even though neither approach makes sense to her.

The role of executive functioning issues: Kids with executive functioning issues can have trouble thinking flexibly and changing the way they approach a problem.

How to help: Ask the teacher to show your child different ways to approach the same type of problem. Your child will then have a teacher-approved “bag of tricks.” It might also help to learn the teacher’s preferred technique and reinforce that strategy at home.

Learning Challenge #3

Your child reads a chapter of a book but is unable to summarize what happened.

The role of executive functioning issues: Kids with executive functioning issues can have weak working memory skills, making it hard for them to keep information in mind long enough to use it.

“Kids with executive functioning issues can have trouble thinking flexibly and changing the way they approach a problem.”

How to help: Use active reading strategies like highlighting key words and writing notes in the margins. Encourage your child to stop after every paragraph or two to take notes. Later these notes can be compiled to summarize the chapter.

Learning Challenge #4

Your child makes the same careless math error on every homework problem, even after you checked the first one and pointed out the error.

The role of executive functioning issues: Kids with executive functioning issues have trouble self-monitoring their work and recognizing when the same mistake has been repeated.

How to help: Help your child create a checklist of what needs to be double-checked on assignments. It can be as simple as asking herself, Did I follow all the directions on this problem?

Learning Challenge #5

Your child has long-term projects due in three different subjects. Instead of staggering the work, she tries to do them all a few days before they’re due.

The role of executive functioning issues: Kids with executive functioning issues can have trouble prioritizing tasks and estimating how much time a project will take.

How to help: Ask your child’s teacher to provide a project calendar that breaks down the project into smaller pieces due each week. A points system could encourage your child to complete these smaller steps on time. Eventually your child can create her own calendar and due dates.

Learning Challenge #6

The teacher reports that your child is rude and dismissive of others’ ideas when working in groups.

The role of executive functioning issues: Kids with executive functioning issues can have a hard time understanding other people’s points of view and opinions different from their own.

How to help: Role-play scenarios in which you pretend to be a classmate. Use active listening skills, such as making eye contact and asking your child to clarify things when necessary. Let her practice “I” statements: “I have trouble understanding people when they talk fast.” Point out when responses could be perceived as rude and help her rephrase.

Middle school involves a lot of juggling that your child may not have encountered before. It can be tricky for a child with executive functioning issues to adapt. But there are strategies you can try at home to find new ways to work around the difficulties she might have with organization, flexible thinking and other skills.

Key Takeaways

  • Your child’s teacher can work with you to come up with strategies for homework.
  • Calendars, checklists and note-taking can all help a student stay organized.
  • Role-playing can help kids learn how to successfully interact with others.

Source: Understood.org

Posted in Parenting

Six Parenting Mistakes that Fuel Sibling Rivalry

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Most of the parents I work with are desperately seeking answers for how to effectively (and positively) stop the fighting, bickering and antagonizing that siblings of all ages are drawn to do.

Believe it or not – there are things we (well-intended) parents do that actually fuel the competition and rivalry between our kids. Think about it – if we can just STOP making these simple mistakes, we can curb the infighting and cultivate an atmosphere where there’s more love than love-lost between our kids!

Read on for a few of the common parenting missteps that actually escalate sibling rivalry:

1. Being all inclusive, all the time. Family time is coveted and essential in nurturing the bond between family members. That said, there is also a very real need for every child to have their own ‘attention bucket’ filled by our individualized time and attention. This one-on-one time is key to a child’s emotional connection, security and sense of family belonging that is uniquely theirs. The mistake most parents make is making play time an “everyone in” venture. (Usually because time is in short supply.) But here’s the problem: when you lump kid time together, it creates natural competition for your attention which often leads to sibling friction.

Here’s what to do instead: Schedule in 10-15 minutes of one-on-one time with each of your kids on a daily basis. This time is devoted to doing what your child loves to do – reading, building Legos, shooting hoops, coloring, whatever! Your kids will treasure this new “all about them” time and you’ll find a significant decrease in sibling competition. Note: if you find one child or the other gets curious or a little jealous as you venture into individual time, don’t stress, that’s natural. With a little practice and assurance that they’ll have time of their own, that will dissipate. You’ll also find that once your family adjusts, you’ll actually save time because you’ll eliminate much of the quarreling, fighting and need for discipline.

2. Using the “everyone into the pool” strategy.We all know it’s easier and more convenient to treat siblings as a unit – to put them in the same “pool” with activities – such as playing the same sport, taking the same martial arts class, attending the same music lessons. The mistake is that this “package mentality” doesn’t allow your children to explore their individual talents and it can create competition between siblings pursuing the same activity.

Here’s what to do instead: As you dive into the daily one-on-one time I just referenced with your kids, spend time finding out what they are curious about – what talents and interests they’d like to nurture or explore. Then find opportunities and resources to help those ideas and talents flourish and celebrate each child’s individual strengths as well as treasuring the time you spend together as a family unit.

3. Unknowingly labeling your kids. Society does enough labeling for our kids; don’t you think? Shy. Spoiled. Hyperactive. Geek. Most parents know not to use negative labels with kids. However, the mistake many parents make is using the so-called “nice” labels such as the “good one,” the “studious one,” the “funny one,” or the “talented one.” Believe it or not, these “positive” labels are just as troublesome as they can still create division and comparison between kids. If you’re the “smart one,” I can only assume I’m the “not so smart” one, right? Negative labels are hard to live down and the positive labels are hard to live up to. Suffice it to say, ALL kids have attributes that make them special and cherished.

Here’s what to do instead: Skip the labels and focus on building up the whole of what makes your children awesome rather than always singling out those attributes that can create comparison.

4. Creating unnecessary competition. It may seem harmless, but saying things like, “Let’s see who can get dressed the fastest!” or the frequently heard, “Let’s see who can be the MOST quiet!” creates the opportunity for an inevitable winner and loser. There is enough competition in the world; there’s no need to kindle even more competition and rivalry at home.

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Here’s what to do instead: Look for ways your kids can work together to accomplish something and praise the joint participation. When looking to get a specific task completed, use a simple When-Then statement: “When you are ready for bed with your teeth brushed, thenwe’ll read books until lights out time at 7:30.”

5. Having a “go-to” kid. You know the one… the kid you “go-to” because she will lead the way, accomplish what is necessary AND not kick up a fuss? While that may save you a little aggravation and make the “go-to” kid feel like a superstar, it essentially makes the other child or children feel left out, or have little to no desire to ever rise to meet your expectations because they never have to.

Here’s what to do instead: Fight the urge to take the easy path. Be equitable (in age appropriate ways) in the expectations and responsibilities you set for your kids. And of course, let your kids know how much you appreciate their contributions.

6. Assigning positions in a fight. When kids fight, it’s a normal parenting reaction to step in and assign roles such as “victim” and “aggressor.” Typically, the “victim” is showered with hugs and “poor babies” and the “aggressor” is reprimanded and sentenced to his or her room. That’s a mistake because it pigeon-holes kids into roles they’ll likely repeat and it robs them of the opportunity to work on solutions to resolve conflict peacefully.

Here’s what to do instead: Focus on training your children in the art of positive conflict resolution (outside of the moment) and on solutions to solve the dispute in the moment such as asking, “What can you guys do to work this out?” That minimizes tattling, aggression, and teaches valuable skills they’ll need in adulthood.

And lastly, realize that some sibling rivalry is normal and navigating the bumpy road can be fraught with mistakes. Remember that how you react to those bumps is the key. Instead of dwelling in the mistakes, know that you can teach your children to develop their relationship with each other in healthy and loving ways. And when you do – you’ll teach skills and mindsets that they will use to manage relationships the rest of their lives.

Relax, own these strategies and skills and enjoy these precious years with your kids! We’re here to help.

Article by Positive Parenting Solutions.

Posted in Parenting

Teach your kids to write notes

Why (and how) you should encourage your kids to embrace the thank-you note. And cultivate an attitude of gratitude along the way.

Writing thank-you notes has gotten a bad rap as a chore but a note of thanks can do more than dutifully tell Uncle Max how much you like the Word Yahtzee that he sent. Gratitude may be crucial to compassion, empathy, and even happiness, according to Jeffrey Froh, an assistant professor of psychology and the director of the Laboratory for Gratitude in Youth at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York. Why? Thanks for asking!

“Grateful kids tend to be much more satisfied with their lives,” says Froh. “They do better in school and are less materialistic, less depressed, and less envious. Their relationships are much stronger and more supportive.” In one study, grateful kids even reported fewer physical symptoms, like headaches, stomachaches, and fevers.

Thank-you notes don’t have to be reserved for physical loot: Your kids can write them in appreciation of awesome outings or good friendship. “My five-year-old borrowed my phone to type a thank-you text to his mom for a special day that they had spent together,” says Froh. The key is to make it a creative project in which kids get to express themselves. And when they craft their sentiments, you’ll get the chance to appreciate your unique, sometimes wacky little people.

To Make Thank-Yous More Meaningful

Set a time for it. There’s something wrong about trying to teach gratitude by nagging or rushing a kid. Get some snacks and settle in.

Gather your resources. A correspondence kit is a fun motivator. Put one together with note cards, a return-address stamper, a great pen, postage stamps, stickers, a first address book, and even sealing wax and a monogram seal.

Be the designated writer. A child who can’t write yet, or one who is just learning, will feel more grateful if she doesn’t have to agonize over sentences. Also, transcribing her thanks gives you a chance to capture the depth and the complexity of her feelings. (“Thank you for the game Candy Land, which has Queen Frostine, which is who I love so much even though it’s who Ben loves, too, and so we fight sometimes.”)

Teach sincerity. You want your kids to learn to be authentically gracious. Aunt Ida’s terrifying woolen anorak? Skip “Thank you for the beautiful sweater—I love it!” and talk your child through what is true. “Dear Aunt Ida, it must have taken you so long to crochet this. The wool feels really warm, and you remembered that my favorite color is green! Thank you so much.”

Do it now—and later. Every now and then, encourage your child to send another note, long after the fact, just to make somebody’s day—especially for a gift that has turned out to be a favorite. “Remember that moose hat you gave me last Christmas? Here’s a picture of me wearing it on our trip to Niagara Falls!”

Source can be found here.

Posted in Flexible Thinking

Improve Flexibility

Preschool Class Activities2 1Flexibility is the capacity to switch one’s thinking based upon the demands of a situation. It incorporates the ability to adapt and improvise one’s emotional and cognitive responses based upon changes and transitions in one’s environment. When using flexibility, one must recognize the need to utilize different problem-solving strategies and to take reflective, careful approaches based on previous attempts. Improve flexibility by trying new and novel activities.

Flexible thinking helps you learn from mistakes. Cognitive and emotional flexibility helps children to find effective problem-solving strategies and deal with uncertainty. Flexibility is important for a child to be able to transition from one activity to another and helps a child deal with new or different situations.

Home and School Situations Requiring Flexibility

  • Receiving constructive criticism
  • Trying out new activities or tasks
  • Shifting from playing with friends to going home for dinner or homework
  • Handling frustrations while attempting to complete a task
  • Losing a game or facing disappointment
  • Transitioning from one classroom activity to another
  • Adjusting to a change in routine, such as having a substitute teacher or babysitter

Hints and Strategies to Improve Flexibility

1. Practice trial-and-error learning. Do something with your child in which it is clear that there is no right or wrong answer. For example, rearrange the books on a bookshelf to see how they look best, work on a flower arrangement, or try variations in making a smoothie or ice cream shake.

2. Play games that are strictly chance. These include flipping coins, playing “war” with a deck of cards, or playing any number of board games that do not rely upon skill, such as “Candy Land” or “Chutes and Ladders.”

3. Ask your child to help you learn how to use a new cell-phone, a new game, or piece of software that you have just bought. Compliment your child’s willingness to make errors, try new things, and learn from his mistakes when engaged in this type of activity. Engage in a discussion as to how this applies to many other things in the real world.

4. Try new things. For example, have everyone in the family try something new at a restaurant, take a new route to school, or try a new routine at home. Discuss with your child the pros (e.g. broadening one’s perspective, finding a better way) and cons (e.g. discomfort, fear) of new experiences.

5. Turn your day upside-down. Have chicken, salad, rice, and vegetables for breakfast and cereal and milk for dinner. Wear pajamas during the day and sleep in jeans and a T-shirt, all the while laughing and being comfortable with this unusual routine.

6. Encourage thinking about things differently. For example, see if you and your child can generate alternative uses for common household items. Discuss how many ways you could use a telephone book, (such as a seat booster, a doorstop, a fire starter, or to look up phone numbers).

7. Encourage game play that requires flexibility of thinking. Many games, such as “Risk” or “Blokus,” involve strategies that require cognitive flexibility in response to changes on the board and the actions of one’s opponents. Similarly, many single player video games change the skills needed from one level to another. For example, during the first level of a game, one may simply need to run and jump to get from one place to another, however, on subsequent levels this method may be inadequate and one will need to think of alternative strategies to be successful. Encourage your child to recognize the need for change in strategy in these games and discuss together how he can apply this sort of flexibility to his daily life.

8. Ask your child for help while you play a video game that requires changing strategies. Many online video games, such as “Diner Dash,” require changing strategies as one moves along in the game. These are relatively simple games for parents to use, but may become difficult as the game progresses. You will need to find new solutions to different problems, and this is an opportunity for your children to help you. The goal is to get your child not only to help you, but to explain how and why he shifted his thinking from one set to another. The focus is to help your child recognize the changing of thinking sets in game play and how this may help them in the real world.

9. Model flexibility in your daily routine. Everyone experiences the common occurrences of running out of an ingredient for a recipe, having plans ruined by the weather, or being called to stay late at work during an emergency. These are all opportunities for displaying flexibility of thinking and approaches. When these circumstances arise, model your capacity to adapt and change. For example, while you adapt, talk about how you will make something different for dinner or how you will find something to be happy about when you change your plans from going to the beach to a movie.

Games and Activities That Can Practice Flexibility

“MadLibs” Books – This interactive game helps your child to both practice grammar and to recognize that sometimes nonsense and silliness are acceptable.

“Big Brain Academy” – Big Brain Academy offers your child the opportunity to test his/her “brain” abilities in five different categories by playing 15 mini-games. This allows him/her to practice adapting to varying routines.

“Bejeweled” – This puzzle game (commonly available on the Internet) allows your child to practice trial-and-error learning and problem-solving skills in order to perform well in the game.

“Chess” and “Checkers” – Traditional board games, such as “chess” and “checkers,” will allow your child to practice flexibility when he must react and adapt to his opponent’s moves.

“Charades” and “Guesstures” – The traditional word guessing game and its modern-day equivalent, “Guesstures,” will allow your child to practice laughing at him/herself, use trial-and-error learning, and constantly adapt to the situation at hand.

Cooking – Cooking, especially when one does not follow a recipe, allows your child to practice problem-solving and trial-and-error learning as he/she creates a hopefully edible concoction.

Construction around the house – Like cooking, construction around the house, particularly when one does not have a kit or detailed set of instructions for a project, allows for your child to practice problem-solving and trial-and-error learning.

Rearranging the furnishings in a room – By rearranging the furnishings in your home, your child will have the opportunity to try and adapt to new things.

 

Source can be found here.

Posted in Working Memory

Improve Working Memory

Notepad...Working memory is the ability to keep things in mind while performing an activity. It helps in remembering while you are in the process of learning. It involves the maintenance of information in mind so that an individual can use it for planning, learning, reasoning, and producing a result. Working memory helps to hold a thought or long-term memory in mind so you can act more efficiently in the present moment. For example, working memory might involve shutting off a television and remembering to gather one’s coat and backpack before leaving a friend’s house. Improve working memory by following our recommendations below.

Home and School Situations Requiring Working Memory

  • Taking notes in class
  • Recalling plans made or an assignment due date
  • Remembering the rules to a game or sport while playing
  • Following multi-step directions at both school and at home
  • Doing math computations in one’s head
  • Recalling answers to reading comprehension questions
  • Remembering a list of chores, items, or tasks

Hints and Strategies to Improve Working Memory

1. Simplify directions as much as possible. Your child will be more likely to recall short, simple, and direct instructions. For example, saying, “When you finish those two math worksheets, you can watch one episode of ‘Adventure Time’,” is much more direct than saying “When you finish your homework you can watch some TV.”

2. Encourage your child to seek assistance from others. Emphasize to your child that it is acceptable to ask the teacher to repeat instructions or to ask a classmate to borrow their notes. Role-play these scenarios at home so that your child will feel comfortable when the situation arises.

3. Find a mode of technology that is helpful to your child. For example, use a tape recorder to record notes or directions, or a cell-phone to program in reminders and scheduling changes. Digital picture frames can show a sequence of activities that are easily forgotten, such as eating breakfast, putting dishes away, and washing up.

4. Practice verbal memory like rehearsal, chunking, or mnemonic devices. Help your child to rehearse by whispering directions or lists to him/herself. Also, practice chunking devices that can help your child to whittle down two-step instructions to one, such as brushing her teeth and washing her face together. Mnemonic devices can be especially helpful, such as how ROY G BIV is often used to recall the colors of the rainbow in order.

5. Practice reading comprehension. Read the same material as your child and then have a brief discussion about it. This may help to increase your child’s focus and stretch their memory as an active component of working memory skills.

6. Showcase your own working memory difficulties by dramatizing your strategies to compensate for them. Many adults report difficulties with working memory in simple tasks such as remembering what they meant to do when they went into the kitchen or leaving the house and forgetting something important. Use compensatory strategies such as making notes, using Post-its, asking someone else to give a reminder, or doing something immediately when it comes to mind. Exaggerating and dramatizing your strategies for compensating your own working memory difficulties may be helpful for a child who has similar difficulties.

7. Select video games for your child that require the use of working memory skills.Brain training games, such as “Mind Quiz” and “Brain Age 2,” require the use of working memory skills and visual memory tasks. Other longer narrative games, such as “The Legend of Zelda” series, require the player to keep in mind incidents and objects from earlier in the game in order to be successful in strategies on later levels. Most importantly, try and get your child to recognize how memory skills can help in games and encourage your child to try out different strategies. These strategies can include the following: visualizing what (s)he needs to remember, over-learning math facts so that they become automatic, and repeating things out loud. These strategies may help your child in a number of memory tasks.

Games and Activities That Can Practice Working Memory

Playing board games – Most board games require players to use working memory to recall rules, remember whose turn it is, and relate the spin or roll to the appropriate move. Asking your child to help you remember what happens next in the game will even further improve this working memory activity.

Grocery shopping trip – Ask your child to help you keep track of the next three or four items you have to find. Have your child count them as you find each one.

“Memory” – This card game challenges players to match pairs of cards by turning them over two at a time while they are face down, allowing your child to practice his working memory skills.

“I packed my suitcase” Game – Players in this game have to picture and remember an increasing list of items. One child starts by saying, “I packed my suitcase and in it I put a toothbrush.” The next player repeats that phrase and then adds another item. This game can continue for as long as the players enjoy adding more items, and remember what came before what they’re about to say next.

“Big Brain Academy” – This game requires your child to keep facts in mind in order to successfully play the game.

 

Source can be found here.