Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Self-Empowering our Kids by becoming Parent Executive Function Skill Coaches

Conveying self-empowerment strengthening may sound like a very abstract action. But it can be done if you hit certain parameters every week. 

The core of this self-empowerment is how we show that we treat each others, 

BY the use of:
 laser-guided parent coaching sessions scheduled and carried out one to three times per week 
parent to parent role modeling of wholesome paraverbal skills 
Parents can create home labs for executive function skills development that boost, sustain and empower children's:

emotional intelligence:  degree of one's ability to manage ones behavior, emotions, paraverbal skills, mental flexibility, especially in challenging situations.

executive function skills are 'housed' in your frontal lobe, and are the ability to MOM one self in a goal-directed manner. MOM stands for manipulate, orchestrate, and manage. Manipulate is not to be misconstrued negatively as when a person manipulates another. You can 'manipulate' how you feel emotionally by exercising your ability to self-regulate with a relaxation tool, like diaphragmatic breathing, interval cardio exercise (swim), or acupressure. 

Like an orchestra conductor who orchestrates different musicians with strikingly different musical instruments to play in harmony, strong and toned EF skills can play in greater harmony to the benefit of our child, or ourselves as parents.

Tools & Short/ Long-term strategies you will need to start/guide your bonafide parent coaching session.
A mapped out plan of action that is kid-approved and co-prioritized by parent and child.
EF skill activities on your map 'to do list.'
A loving, kind, yet firm parenting attitude that values process over end results, and conveys this in their speech, approach, and praise.
Being consistent about doing a series of full and half parent coaching sessions 4-7 x's a week with your child.

Here is what to do. Take a blank piece of paper, and with a pencil write in the four main categories to which we will attach EF activities that you can start doing at home tonight with your kids.

The four main categories are:

relaxation tools
thinking about my thinking

Circle each of these categories and then add a center page goal for that coaching session. A goal I may use may be...."starting and finishing tough stuff using a big boy attitude." Circle that goal category also. Connect all four main category bubbles to the coaching session goal bubble.

Ok. Good job. The next step is putting in the activities. But their is a catch. If you want full engagement from your child start each session by not having a pre-made plan, but making the time as organic as possible and co-plan together. This promotes leadership and lays a strong groundwork for key EF skills that will be increasingly more important in a goal-driven life.

So start out nice and easy by asking your son, daughter (or your student) if games can be played in today's coaching session.  If they say yes, write it in and circle the category,then ask them if some exercise can be done. If they say yes, write it in, circle it and then ask them if some relaxation tools to feel calm and happy can be practiced. Write it in. Now you have three categories. For the fourth one, ask them if we can practice some 'thinking about our thinking.' As you write it in as the fourth category, explain to them that both of you can do some pretend play acting, or role playing to act out better ways of dealing with a certain issue. For this activity, it is pivotal that the parent go out of their way to be fun,creative, silly, engaging, and with the interest of creating a positive and memorable experience that sets the stage for the next time you act. Consider the use of costumes and props. Tell them that as a reward that you will be happy to do some safe horseplay with them. 

As an alternative, ask your child if they can help write in some, or all of the categories onto the paper themselves.

Here are key  activities to choose from when adding activities under each category.

chess and half-chess (do a great deal of piece exchange so that the game moves quickly and they learn through trial and error... even your forced errors.
ping pong
1-2 rounds of non-violent video game (a privilege that is earned, if parent feels child has attained to that day's coaching session goal again and again during and in-between planned tasks.)
playing a quick card game, like Uno, 'Bridge,' or 'Briscas,'
playing a 3-5 pt game of a sport, like basketball, hockey, soccer, baseball
Starting a story thread and then co-making it out loud with your child while on 'story adventure time WHILE in nature for 7-10 minutes. 
target archery (you can get kid-friendly bows and arrows at Dicks Sporting Good Stores (which I am not profiting from).
hide and seek 

 three sets of pushups
dancing and singing
speed burst swim/run of 30 seconds/ rest 90 seconds 2-8x's depending on age/ ability
Simon Says Jumping Jacks. (Simon says, 'Open, close, open, close, open...." kids use short-term working memory to remember 'open, close' number pattern to do jumping jacks to. Please promote turn taking.
pull ups
barrel walks, crab crawls, bear walks

Relaxation tools
diaphragmatic breathing
Taking a time out
Taking an Epsom salt bath (2 cups in a bath tub of warm water)
Going for a quiet walk through nature with family.

Thinking about your thinking
role-playing, pretend acting time
short, 2-way conversation giving/ receiving feedback on your child's self-management efforts across different tasks. 
parent coach card from parentcoachingcards.com

Be patient during planning ahead time.  This is tough for them. You as the parent are going to be teaching paraverbal skills, emotional control, and behavior modulation... so don't misstep with getting upset and uptight on them if they do not move as quickly as you'd want them to. Short-term planning ahead, itself an EF skill, actually integrates an outpouring of other executive function skills. With skill awareness of the names of these EF skills, as well as the exercising of them in practical ways within the home/ community environment, parents can ensure potential is not locked down, and inner growth is not inhibited in children and adults.

The coach cards were made by Dr. Steve Richfield. Though I wish he would put out another edition of these metacognitive terms, this is what their is for now. Each card has a picture on one side with a scene and an explanation parents can read on the back. Their is also a part that the child reads/ says out loud too. I like to customize what it says according to the age and developmental level of students I work with. After the first two months of using these, kids learn the terms and you just have to show the appropriate card if it fits a situation that occurred. 

The cards are just a platform to set the stage for having a metacognitive exercise between parent and child. It is in the 'thinking about our thinking' that kids and adults become prompted to take an outside self-monitoring view of their actions, and thus, possibly learning from a mistake and autocorrecting. 

After a short chat (of five minutes) that uses the loving, kind, yet firm parenting approach, the parent coaching session can segway to role-playing, or acting out how the issue would have looked, sounded, and felt like if it was handled the right way, using our 'thinking side,' rather than our 'reacting side.' It is up to parents to make this acting out moment a successful experience that is fun, serious, silly, engaging, and rewarding for their children. This completes the memory of the activity as a happy one and fosters mental flexibility that will be needed as you now require on an on-going basis that your child have these 'talks' and 'role-plays' to learn from mistakes. Rewards should be physical affection, verbal praise, and adoration. This kind of reward sends a positive shock wave that even has a hormonal effect that is retained in memory. 

IF parents can sustain these two actions until the child or children become adults, they will have created what should be the norm... individuals who are aspiring, creative, success-minded,  loving, sincere, and genuine. Moreover, these children go on to make tremendous positive contributions to their communities. I would err if I wouldn't add that this mints entrepreneurially-minded generations of people. So good for the economy too! 

Here is a great example of a child whom conveys the courage, paraverbal awareness, genuineness, emotional intelligence and executive function wherewithall that can be a standard. 

Is this civic entrepreneurialism?


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