Thursday, December 19, 2013

Can Playing #Chess, #Meditating, #Horseplay and #Dancing make great kids?

The answer is no. Yet, a home that is made warm, comfortable and nurturing by both parents can provide more warmth than the best commerical home heater system out their. Using a formula system, it is practical, and easily possible for any family, independent of monthly income to make immediate home changes that immediately starts reaping love dividends from your kids. With consistency, a young heart and a growth-oriented mindset, parents can literally showcase and role-model incredibly important life skill tools that lead your children to have higher than strong executive function skills, high emotional intelligence, and an ability to deal with failure that is uncanny.

Parents are advised. You may have to get on your hands and knees for some of this tough work. Horseplay, or what some call roughhousing may be a laughing matter to most, but it is actually a very serious matter that is understated and dismissed. Great horseplay entails the parent making it a continous  matter to point out the importance to convey how careful they are that no one gets hurt, "because we want to have fun, and not do things that end up hurting someone else."

This "point" is a parameter. Draw their attention to adhere by the parameter. Likewise, parents with young families should make it a parameter to ask themselves if they have had their physical, touch, feel, squeeze, eye contact, laughing, loving, nurturing time together. Kids need this more than people realize.

This is prime time with the number one people in their life as far as they are concerned. Skimping here leads to behavioral issues almost immediately and much more pronounced in middle school and high school. This activity is important because it is a novel, fun engaging way to teach empathy... which I think means the act of loving kindness from one to another in some way.

Each of these prime time sessions your child gets with you is like 'money in the bank' that does not lose interest. Accumulating these over time cements a closeness between you and your child, and gives them great reserves of emotional intelligence and sharp executive function skills on which to draw upon. 

Most interestingly to me is the fact that the family is strengthened. Strong families have strong kids who are more receptive to undertaking increasing challenges. This is a picture of a girl who is surfing. She happens to be on the autism spectrum. If you know anything about how mental flexibility is usually a deficit in people on spectrum, then you'd know that this is monumental for this kid.

Playing chess, meditating, and dancing are three super executive function skill using activities. Using the growth-oriented mindset, have kids dance for one song while earning points, yet not competing against each other. Points are given for continous dancing, creativity, style, bonus points for energy moves, and laughter. 30 pts to earn across a 3-4 minute song. No points taken away. Parents need to be role-models in continuous, creative dancing to the beat of the music, obviously. Dancing is a tremendously powerful tool that should be introduced as early as possible in a child's life in a consistent manner. Gross Motor skills are sharpened, as is functional balance, aside from focus, sustaining attention, and behavior modulation.

Meditating has been exhaustively studied as the number one way to increase your executive function skills. Harvard Univ. studies have seen a physical growth of the brain area in the prefrontal cortex for long term meditators who use the general meditation principles of transcendental meditation. That said, you can follow the time tables that they give as parameters but use your breath as a 'mantra,' instead of a secret TM mantra that is given in the popular TM courses found across America.

The time tables for meditation are to meditate for one minute for every year of your age up to 20 minutes. For best results, meditating before starting each day gives you the best bang for your time and effort. A second session in the mid afternoon is also needed. Kids can start at 30 seconds, and progress forward in 30 sec increments. Plateau at their age level. Do this to counteract negative focusing effects from television viewing, internet surfing and videogame playing.

Introducing chess as a game to play at home, and many other strategy games, like backgammon, or even checkers directly prompts kids/ adults to start exercising EF skills. Key skills exercised are: impulse control, focus, sustaining attention, behavior modulation, goal-directed persistence, emotional (self) control, and good ol' foresight (ability to anticipate/ predict) on a daily basis leads to executive functioning strengthening that is easily observable across a 12 months period. Lastly, children who play chess use it as a social tool for conversation and friendship. Chess is a practical, easy to use tool that with the right approach sets the stage for kids who do better accademically and socially. These kids are better able to deal with defeat and loss, and manage putting failure in pespective, rather than all out of proportion. Lastly, I highly recommend parents teach their children with Autism, ADHD, or EF deficits to play the game. Individuals who are non-verbal on the spectrum have the most to gain from a consistent daily, or 5x's/wk campaign. Start with half-chess where you only use half the board. Always include both King and Queen, a knight, a bishop, and one rook. Have pawns in front of these. Queen goes in her color, no castling allowed, pawn promotions ok. Tournament mats/ plastic chess pieces can be purchased for $8 at Get the pouch to keep everything together.

Follow up holiday post on the importance of happy hour for the family! 

Follow me on Twitter @CoachBill007


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