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Category Archives: Video-Blog

“My child is having a hard time in school.”

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Click HERE or on the image to listen to this short video conversation.

Janet talks with Alison, mom of a 6 yo and a 4 yo, “My 6 year old is having a hard time in school. He is bright, charismatic, and a little nutty. It seems like being in first grade means a whole different set of expectations. He hasn’t made friends. He has a hard time listening. He gets up and moves around the room. He has hit some kids. Last week he was sent home twice.”

“If this school isn’t working for him, I’m not sure what kind of school will. It makes me wonder if there is a school out there that is right for him. Does he just have to tough it out?”

Janet reassures: You are not alone. Many boys (and some girls) struggle with school and this is most apparent in a physical way in the younger grades. Young, active children are adjusting to this new context and the expectations of behavior.

Developmental Trajectory – an important recognition of a child’s own developmental trajectory (Not everyone develops at the same rate or in the same areas at the same time – yet we’ve put same-aged children in the same classroom expecting them to be able to do the same things.) Boys are typically 1 to 1.5 years ‘behind’ girls in their development – especially heightened in the younger ages. This levels off and boys do catch up but full cognitive development for boys doesn’t happen until mid-to late- twenties! For girls, it happens in late teens and early twenties.

Let’s put school in perspective. In the ‘olden days’, which wasn’t that long ago…boys (and girls) were active on farms or even if they lived in an urban setting they walked to school, goofing with friends along the way, walking, biking, jumping, climbing, and expending a lot of energy before they were expected to “sit still, listen, and learn.”

What’s a parent to do?
Help your active child before they get to school:
• A mini-trampoline, a basement skateboard ‘park’, a chin up bar – provide acceptable ways to get his energy out at home.
• Walk, bike or skateboard to school – park a few blocks away and go from there – it’ll be a great wake-up for you, too!
• Organize. You aren’t alone – other boys (and girls) crave a physical outlet before school and your teachers may be too busy to make it happen. Check out Boks (Build Our Kids’ Success) for a movement program that you can start at your school.
• Nutrition is essential – include protein and water!
• Help him understand HIS learning style and strategies for success. What helps him be able to focus? Try a fidget or squeeze ball to channel his excess energy.

What’s a teacher to do?
Teachers are busy and striving to do their best. First of all, they’ll see a difference in the wiggly kids as you implement the strategies above. Then, recognize that they likely haven’t been trained to understand fundamental gender-based learning differences. Point them to resources like Boys Alive! and the Gurian Institute who work with teachers showing them how to increase academic achievement while reducing time spent on behavior management.

3 Quick Tips for Success:

1. Water. When ‘flight or fight’ stress chemicals (adrenaline & cortisol) build up, a child can react too quickly in anger, silliness, or wiggles. Water dilutes these chemicals in 5 minutes rather than having them in one’s system for 2 hours.

2. Brain boosts. It takes less than a minute to increase blood flow and energize students. A quick lap around the playground, jumping jacks in place, or a quick ‘happy dance’ increases breathing, laughter, and attention.

3. More Room. Boys generally take up more space for their play and learning than girls. If there are 4 girls seated at a table, it will be more comfortable to have 3 boys at that same size table. Boys can easily feel overwhelmed with too much visual stimuli – minimize the wall art and ceiling decorations.

With about 93% of elementary teachers being female, there are many who don’t intuitively ‘get’ boys. Advocate for your active sons (and daughters) and support teachers to learn more about gender-based learning differences and how to successfully implement active learning strategies. (They’ll thank you for it!)

Above all, reassure your son that he is not bad and not wrong. He may be in a context that doesn’t fit him. Then it is your job to advocate and change the context! Let me know how I can help!

“Help! Transitions with my son are the worst!”

Janet discusses how to make transitions more peaceful and productive with Jennifer.

Vlog with Jennifer - Transitions
Click HERE or on the image to listen to the 8-minute video.

Jennifer, mom of a 5 year old boy recently asked, “My son has trouble with transitions. Going to school in the morning, leaving a play date, or getting out of the house to go to the grocery store are difficult for him – and me!”

“How can I help him be more productive and help both of us have more peaceful transitions?”

Janet responds:

What comes before?

Notice your patterns. What comes before the “transition melt-down moment”? Are you rushing around? Are you commanding/demanding/nagging/reminding from the other room?

Imagine yourself in the place of your child for a moment. How would you feel to have your boss or significant other using just the words, body language, and unseen energy that you are giving to your child at these moments of transition? Yuk. We would’ve quit that job long ago!

It is HARD to leave what we’re doing. For adults. For children.

What to do instead –

Engage with him IN HIS WORLD for just a minute or two. If he is busy building a fort, be with him – FULLY engaged. (Sounds easy, takes practice). Now, use that moment as the catalyst for transition. Building a fort? Use that imagery to propel you both to the next activity. “We need to search for more branches, let’s brush our teeth and go in search of them.” You get the idea. Live into HIS pretend and stretch the bounds of your imagination, too (never a bad thing).

Children nourish us by being in the present. When we allow ourselves, we can fully immerse with them and forget about our busy adult lives. When we emerge from their make-believe, we are refreshed on a soul level. The present really is the ONLY place we can actually be…might as well enjoy it!

A ‘Magic’ Word –

Using the word “Let’s” with the accompanying ‘sweeping gesture.’ This works especially well with the young child. “Let’s go brush our teeth.” Then do it together rather than you being the director and he the actor…and likely a very reluctant one.

Jennifer comments, “I’ve tried reminding him, telling him what we have to do next, preparing him with all the steps to our day. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

“Just Tell Me ONE Thing!”

Fewer words, please! Many husbands, boyfriends, and sons would like to tell their wife, girlfriend, and mother those very words. And, indeed, I’ve had many report to me that they have!

Females talk — a lot! We process while we’re talking, compelling us to talk even more! The male brain works with language differently – it has fewer places to process all those words you use.

When you describe every step, ask multiple questions, and keep up a constant stream of chitter-chatter, you may be overwhelming his brain and he will likely:
• Ignore you
• Get silly or angry
• Have a meltdown

Silence really is golden! He just wants you to BE with him. So give him concise information, no more than necessary. He doesn’t need a run-down of the whole day, especially if you have a strong rhythm to your day’s routine.

Where are you when you talk to him?

Many times, as busy parents, we find ourselves giving directives from the kitchen up to the bedroom, from the bedroom down to the playroom…you get the idea. It is really easy for him to tune you out when he doesn’t have the physical connection with you..which means you nag, say it more, say it louder, etc.

Take a moment to go to him – enter into HIS world, his space, for a moment – put your hand on his shoulder and ask your question, make your request. As a wise speech teacher used to say to me, “Be direct, be brief, and be seated.”

When all else fails – SING!

Another wonderful way to facilitate transitions (known by many a wise preschool teacher) is to SING through the transition. It can be a silly song or a tried-and-true favorite. An added benefit to singing is that your breathing and heart rate become synchronized – what better way to face the world together than that?! (see article here)

Join him in his world FIRST.

THEN, with imagination and certainty, move him smoothly through the transition to the next event. Take the moment you need to be fully and deeply connected to him and your breathing and hearts will beat in unison and harmony.

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