Anger usually manifests in violence, in word or deed, as the quickest way to overcome a perceived threat. Violence is the default problem-solving strategy children use until they are taught more pro-social solutions to problems and conflicts.
Physically, you can tell when someone is ready to lash out in anger when you see their fists clench. If you are in a heated conversation with someone and you see their fists clench, don’t be surprised to soon see those fists flying toward your face.
Anger, of course, breeds regret; we hurt others when we would not have, had cooler heads prevailed.
Anger thrusts us into quick, thoughtless action, the simplest action being to make a fist and hit.
Mental Strategies like “Stop and Think,” are beneficial, yet sometimes Physical Strategies are even more effective.
Fortunately,The Kenpo Salute our students learn provides a powerful strategy to align with this impulse to lash out and literally, put a lid on it.
You see The Salute in every class, the hand covering the fist. The Salute represents the Warrior (the body) and the Scholar (the mind). We remind students to “cover our weapon” as a reminder that our minds should control our bodies (the hand covering the fist).
When a student wants to lash out, the simple solution to control this behavior is to align with the motion of punching. Instead of punching someone else, the student simply redirects this tendency and punches his fist into his hand, making The Salute.
It’s as if he catches his anger in his own hand before he hurts someone. This gesture prevents a student from lashing out because he cannot simultaneously hit another person and punch himself in the palm.
Now, after making The Salute, the student can take a breath and remind himself he is covering his weapon. When the angry outburst is controlled, this allows the student time to think and use other mental strategies to resolve conflict peacefully.
Anger is an emotional hijacking that produces rash actions, actions we’d rather not take, actions we’d take back if we could.
Simple physical strategies, like making The Salute, can eliminate the pain of regret.
Before I get to that…I’d like to welcome Angela Walter to the SMAA Master Club. Angela has set her goal to earn her Adult Black Belt before she leaves for college. She’s on her way!
So, would you like your child to have better social skills?
If you answered yes, then one answer comes from an unlikely place, according to an article published yesterday in the New York Times.
I just love this: Read Fiction (and for younger children, read to them)
Yes, sitting there reading a fiction book has been shown by psychologists at York University in Canada to hone our social skills.
Fiction readers could better understand people, empathize with them and see things from their point of view.
Fiction also gives children a better theory of mind and the ability to understand and predict other peoples’ intentions.
NOTE: researchers did not see a benefit from watching TV or video, only reading.
“The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.” Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings.”
So promote reading as much as I do and make sure your child spends more time in front of a page than in front of a screen (unless it’s an e-reader)
Remember: All Leaders are Readers
Here’s the link to the original article:
With tomorrow being Valentine’s Day I thought it appropos to say a little something about Kojak’s question, “who loves ya, baby?” (for the uniformed, Kojak was a TV detective fro the mid-1970′s and this one of of his trademark line).
Kojak’s line is really an assurance that he loves ya, a rhetorical question but I’m going to answer it anyway.
Here’s my quick answer: Don’t worry about it. Well, don’t worry about it directly.
Instead, ask yourself this alternate question: “Who, and what, do ya love?”
Worrying about who loves you is akin to worrying about being happy or worrying about your self-esteem. You cannot directly make people love you, be happy or feel great about yourself for no good reason (well, maybe this one but it’s not a good idea). Each of these is a fool’s errand.
Each of the above values follows The Law of Indirect Effort, that they are results of other actions and lack a simple 1-to-1 correspondence.
It brings me to a third, related question people love to ask each other, “is it more important to be loved or to love?“
To love of course, because that is the best way to assure that you will be loved in return–hey, you get both this way. Loving is attractive, literally, by doing what you love, or loving what you are doing and expressing it to those you love it is inevitable that this same love with come back to you.
On the flip side, longing and neediness are repellent, they push everyone away. You might get a bit of sympathy for awhile but people will begin to shun you if it keeps up (ask me, I know firsthand).
Who loves you, how happy you are presently and how you feel about yourself are SCORECARDS about how you’ve been doing lately. You can’t erase these scores, nor can you plead with a teacher to raise them undeservedly.
Valentine’s Day at its heart is a perennial reminder to express your love to those who are important in your life (hint, hint) in case you’ve forgotten lately, and haven’t we all to some degree?
“The hole you give through is the hole you receive through.”
I just watched the previews for the New Karate Kid movie starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith after watching the Original Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita.
So, what do I think so far?
The Original Karate Kid is that rare Perfect Movie. The portrayal of the bullies and the bullying Daniel goes through is spot-on, including the reactions of everyone around him. The heart of the story is Daniel’s relationship with Mr. Miyagi as he mentors the boy. This is what will either make or break the New Karate Kid. Can they recreate that touching teacher-student relationship without making it seem derivative? Can they interject new life into this classic story?
I can say that after watching the previews, I think Chan and Smith will pull it off. I sure hope they do and am excited to see it when it hits the theaters.
I love going to the movies so turning the school into our very own private movie theater Saturday to watch the Original Karate Kid was a treat. It took a bit of doing though.
I stumbled upon a simple way to make our our screen and Mr. Aaron and Mr. Lance put it together and set it up perfectly. Mr. Mike came by and Helped Mr. Lance rewire our sound system for great effect. The Thorndike family generously loaned us their projector while the entire staff, including Mr. Vincent and Dr. Karla helped me pop corn. Sandy Sartor came to the popcorn rescue with not one, but two more air-poppers to fulfill the demand. Thanks to everyone who made the night a huge success.
Before the night was through I already had requests and questions when the next movie night would be. Well, I’m working on it. Aside from The Karate Kid Part II, I’d like some help with movie suggestions.
Let me know what you’d like us to show next.
The average person can hold his breathe for 2-4 minutes. The world record is 17 minutes—recently documented and set by magician David Blaine.
How about the average 7 year-old struggling on a spelling test? Or the average 15 year-old responding to an essay prompt? The average 17 year-old giving a speech to the entire school?
It’s time to give breathing its due. There is no magic bullet in the world of teaching and learning, but breathing is such a tremendous tool for stress release that…..go to ScholarFit.com…….
This Saturday we’re hosting a Breathing Seminar for Families. We’ll be teaching children (and their parents!) better breathing for Self Control, Anxiety Management, and Performance Enhancement. Look forward to seeing you there!
Just want to make sure you know where to find me now….www.ScholarFit.com. Thanks for all your encouragement. Keep it up…your questions, additions, comments, etc.!
There’s an easy way to get updates. Just go to the ScholarFit site and put your e-mail into the RSS Feed (in the top right corner of the site).
Thanks….and happy Spring day!
How can we help our kids feel loved and joyful if they don’t listen to us? Siena tells me that she’s sad each night when I’m about to leave her room. I look at her and sigh. Part of me is glad she’s sharing her feelings, not only having had found a word for her feelings but incorporating that word into an I-statement that does not directly blame me for her despair. “I’m sad Mommy.” Another part of me wonders, is she really sad? Is this just something she said to me one night that got a reaction from me that she was looking for, making her say it again and again. It’s every night now. “Mommy, I’m sad.”
She’s supported by a collection of stuffed animals, and has started to hold onto Clausy’s paw, the foot of the Rottweiller that she got from Santa this year. I tell her that Clausy will keep her safe. Sometimes she beats me to it, telling me, “Clausy will keep me safe Mommy.” Who gets to say what first – it’s always an interesting experiment. Kids repeat what we say. But I never told her she was sad, or did I? Did I ask her one night when she started to cry when I said goodnight, “are you sad cutie pie?” Maybe. If so, it’s an indication that she does listen to me, borrowing words from my conversations with her.
When she tells me she’s sad, I suggest other things she can do. Hug Clausy. Talk to me about happy moments from the day, the sunshine at the park, etc. I don’t want her dwelling in an emotional space of sadness. I want her to reframe her thoughts, control them to the best of her ability. I point out that her sadness is temporary. “I’m sorry to hear you’re sad right now, babes.” I don’t want to discount her feelings and tell her that she’s not sad, but I also don’t want her to think that she’ll be sad forever. That’s a basic principle of raising an optimistic, resilient child.
So where does the not listening come into this scenario? Some nights she tells me about happy thoughts from the day, and even screams them to me minutes after I leave her room. “I’m thinking of swinging like a horsey at Ms. Debbie’s Mommy!”
“Glad to hear it,” I say back, smile on my face. One night she was even more direct, “I’m happy Mommy. I’m not sad.” Like all kids, that girl really wants to please the ones who care for her. She was listening to me.
Other nights, though, like last night, she kept screaming, “I’m sad Mommy.” “I need another kiss Mommy!!” She wouldn’t visualize joyful episodes of her day. She refused to tell me about what she wanted to do at the farm the next day. “I’m sad Mommy,” she kept screaming.
Her nightlight was on, a cute yellow man that glows in the dark. Her Clausy was nestled along her face, his soft fur catching the tears now falling from Siena’s eyes. “Mommy, tears Mommy. I’m crying Mommy.”
And my “job” was supposedly to make my child feel loved and joyful?!? I’m not about to feel like a failure, or even say that I’m not fulfilling my loving duties as a mother. Give me a break. It’s not so black and white. Not so simple. She’s loved. I’m figuring out next steps. She knows she has me to whine to, for better or worse. She was sad. That’s okay. We’re sad sometimes.
The operative word. Sometimes.
“You got to be tough or the world will get you.”
I grew up hearing those words from my father over and over again. He’s a man of sayings. There was the lighthearted one, “you’re alright, half left, but all right;” the thankful one, “great meal Leanne” and the pragmatic one, “I’m not cheap; I’m frugal.” Whether we were alone in the car or with friends at a dinner party, my father found a way to interject one of his mantras into the conversation. Just after my first daughter’s birth, I overheard my dad talking to our newborn by the bedroom window, rocking the crying baby to sleep in his arms. “You got to be tough,” he started. I knew what was coming next, and stood at the doorway, astounded by his persistence.
“You got to be tough or the world will get you.” What does that mean anyway!? To my dad, it means that you’ve got to survive the world no matter what it throws at you. My father lost his parents when he was fifteen years-old. He was in the backseat of the car when it was struck by a drunk driver – so were his twin brother and younger sister, Suzanne. His mom died on the spot, and his father died soon after of heartbreak – the moment when he asked about the status of his wife, and a doctor answered honestly. “You got to be tough,” he learned – and sought to cement that point into the brains of his children over and over again.
While I don’t full heartedly embrace my dad’s tough-mantra, I can’t help but hear it when I run into difficult situations. On the surface, the saying is empty and crass – devoid of context and dismissive of healthy alternatives for moving through emotionally taxing experiences. But I didn’t critique the saying as a child. My siblings and I simply heard it – again and again. We never learned to analyze it; that would have been like analyzing my dad’s arm. His sayings were a part of him – an appendage to life.
When is it acceptable to stop and think about what we hear over and over again? How do we best do this, especially in terms of our own, inner dialogue? Humans talk to themselves, and that inner speech is a powerful tool of self-control. Negative self-talk such as “I’m never going to finish this” or “no one ever helps me” can stop someone in her tracks, preventing her from reaching a dream. Positive talk, on the other hand, can free someone of undue obstacles, offering her an open door into a promising possibility. Psychologists and educators alike have created ways to help people observe and take charge of their self-talk. My father has never had the privilege of working with someone to guide him in this process. I wonder what such a self-talk coach would say to him. What would you ask him?
Being “tough” is my father’s way of being optimistic, but not naïve. You have to know my father to know that he’s not just about “toughing it out.” He seeks support and talks through his emotionally taxing situations with friends and family. He is one of the sweetest people I know. But he’s acquired this saying that he repeats again and again – and, for better or worse, allows him to get through whatever it is that is standing in his way. He recently bought a bike, pedals the few blocks to my sister’s house, and plays with his grandkids in Virginia each day. He just walked a half marathon, and sent pictures of himself in the paper to all his four children. He was beaming with pride. His favorite saying might not capture all there is to know about my father’s zest for life, but it does remind me of something extremely important about parents: they, too, talk to themselves and that self-talk lives on in their children.
So, what is it that you say to yourself over and over again?