If you are a parent, or you know people that are parents, you’ve probably witnessed kids doing something that we consider dangerous – climbing along a ledge where they could fall, carrying something that could break, or riding their bike a little too fast.
What’s the first thing out of our mouth? We shout “Be Careful!”
If we stop to think about it, do our kids really know what this means? Sometimes telling them to be careful means that they might overthink what they are doing, and do the exact thing we DON’T want them to do (fall, drop what they are carrying, take their eyes off of where they are going, etc). Saying “Be Careful” to a kid is sort of like telling your friend or spouse to “Calm Down.” It’s not very descriptive, and it’s also not very helpful advice. It might actually frustrate that person because it makes it sound like you don’t think they can handle their situation.
The next time your child is doing something slightly dangerous (within reason, of course), instead of telling them to “Be Careful,” instead try saying “Use Your Focus” in a calm and encouraging way. This phrase helps empower our kids to try new things, push their limits, and use their eyes, mind and body to do these things well.
So, what is Focus, exactly? To focus means to pay attention. At TEAM Martial Arts, we teach students to demonstrate Focus by practicing three things:
– Focusing our eyes by looking at who is speaking to us or looking at what we are doing
– Focusing our mind by thinking about what our teachers or parents are saying to us
– Focusing our bodies by holding still and being in control.
At home, we can help our kids practice their focus with fun and games that also double as brain exercises. Here are some examples of fun ways to work on attention, concentration, and memory:
– Doing crossword puzzles and picture puzzles such as “what’s wrong with this picture” or “find the hidden objects” (like Where’s Waldo)
– Playing memory games such as the card matching game or the Simon electronic game
– Reading short stories with follow-up questions such as “What do you think will happen next?”
To help encourage our kids to practice their focus at home, we should participate in these activities with them, as their coach and their playmate. We can encourage our kids in these activities, and talk about their progress as they improve. Working and playing together with our kids also helps strengthen our relationship and bond with them. Win-win!
Last thing – remember that all good things come with practice. Don’t expect 100% success to come the first time you try one of these things with your child. Focus, like just about everything else in life, is something that takes practice. Stay consistent with your messaging and encouragement, and you will see results over time!
– Miss Amber