“As we know, the brain is malleable. Through the environment, we can make the brain “stronger” or make it “weaker”. I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we, unfortunately, remold our children’s brains in the wrong direction.” Veronica Pooday, OT.
Don’t let Veronica be correct. Acknowledge the four challenges below and use what you learn to help our child create healthy habits that lead to healthy social and emotional lifestyles for our students. Will it be easy? No, ask for help!
1. KIDS GET EVERYTHING THEY WANT WHEN THEY WANT IT
“I am Hungry!!” “In a sec I will stop at the drive-thru” “I am Thirsty!” “Here is a vending machine.” “I am bored!” “Use my phone!” The ability to delay gratification is one of the key factors for future success. We have the best intentions — to make our child happy — but unfortunately, we make them happy at the moment but miserable in the long term. To be able to delay gratification means to be able to function under stress. Our children are gradually becoming less equipped to deal with even minor stressors, which eventually become huge obstacles to their success in life.
The inability to delay gratification is often seen in classrooms, malls, restaurants, and toy stores. The moment the child hears “No”, they react with belligerence because parents have taught their child’s brain to get what it wants right away.
2. LIMITED SOCIAL INTERACTION
We are all busy, so we give our children digital gadgets and make them “busy” too. Kids used to play outside, where, in unstructured natural environments, they learned and practiced their social skills.
Unfortunately, technology replaced the outdoor time. Also, technology made the parents less available to socially interact with their child. Obviously, our kids fall behind… the babysitting gadget is not equipped to help kids develop social skills. Most successful people have great social skills. This is the priority!
The brain is just like a muscle that is trainable and re-trainable. If you want your child to be able to bike, you teach him biking skills. If you want your child to be able to wait, you need to teach that child patience. If you want your child to be able to socialize, you need to teach him social skills. The same applies to all the other skills. There is no difference!
3. ENDLESS FUN
We have created an artificial fun world for our children. There are no dull moments. The moment it becomes quiet, we run to entertain them again, because otherwise, we feel that we are not doing our parenting duty.
We live in two separate worlds. They have their “fun“ world, and we have our “work” world. Why aren’t children helping us in the kitchen or with laundry? Why don’t they tidy up their toys? This is basic monotonous work that trains the brain to be workable and function under “boredom,” which is the same “muscle” that is required to be eventually teachable at school.
When they come to school and it is time for handwriting their answer is “I can’t. It is too hard. Too boring.” Why? Because the workable “muscle” is not getting trained through endless fun. It gets trained through work.
4. KIDS & TECHNOLOGY
Using technology as a “Free babysitting service” is, in fact, not free at all. The payment is waiting for you just around the corner. We pay with our kids’ nervous systems, with their attention, and with their ability for delayed gratification.
This week is Fall Break for Westfield Washington Schools. We challenge you to make the most of it. TALKING with your student(s) is the first step. Ask about these four points. Hear what they have to stay and create a plan that will make them STRONGER!
Enjoy the Break!