Back to School Tips for Parents

Back to School Tips for Parents

Summertime is coming to an end, and with that comes all of the back to school anxiety and jitters that are common among children. Your child may experience common physical effects of anxiety associated with back to school time including symptoms from stomachaches to sleeping problems. They will also experience emotional stress from the fear of making new friends, meeting new teachers, fears of being bullied, the pressure of making good grades, and worries of being unpopular. With that said, it important for parents to first remember that these physical and emotional feelings are very common, and even the most well-adjusted kids are bound to feel some sort of pressure when they return to school.

The question becomes: what can parents do to help their children cope with the physical and emotional stresses associated with the back to school season? In this article, I will provide you with some tips that I’ve shared with parents in the past that have deemed to be very helpful.

Tip #1: Put your child on a healthy sleeping pattern right away!

Children need at least 8 to 10 hours of REM sleep each night. Children that do not get adequate sleep the night before tend to be groggy, grumpy, and thus have a harder time concentrating in class, not to mention tend to become more sensitive to social disputes. Sleep also contributes to a healthier immune system. You can help your child enter each school day with a more energetic and positive approach simply by making sure they get the right amount of sleep each night.

Here’s how to set a healthy sleeping pattern with your children:

  1. Establish a set bedtime and wake time for the weekdays. Make sure that you specify that this time is non-negotiable.
  2. Set up some rules for 1 hour prior to bedtime. There are many things that can affect how well your children sleep at night. If you set up some ground rules, then you’ll see better sleeping habits:
    • Make sure they eat dinner no later than 1 hour prior to bedtime. If they eat just before bedtime, then chances are they will not fall asleep right away. Your child can have a warm glass of milk or some fruit just before bed if they are hungry.
    • Cut out all physical activities no later than 1 hour prior to bedtime. Children need adequate downtime to get their heart rate down.
    • Cut out any intense “stimulating” activities no later than 1 hour prior to bedtime. This includes video games and computers. Both can be very addictive and keep your child’s mind over-stimulated even after they’ve stopped.
  3. Establish a 20 – 30-minute nightly “calm-down” bedtime routine. The routine should include taking a bath, putting on their pajamas, reading, and other relaxing activities. TV viewing at bedtime is not recommended because it may affect your child’s ability to fall asleep.

 

Tip #2: Put your child on a brain-strengthening diet

Not all diets are for weight loss. Even children that have great athletic physiques are susceptible to the after-effects of poor eating habits, including fatigue, anxiety, poor concentration, and mood swings. You can help your child feel better each school day simply by adjusting their diet and getting rid of foods and snacks that are counter-productive.

Here are some healthy eating tips:

  1. Purge the bad foods in your house. Open your refrigerator and get rid of the foods you know are unhealthy for your children including sodas, snacks that are high in sugar, and foods that are high in fat.
  2. Create a healthy menu. Sit down with your child and create a breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack menu together. Create at least three different healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and snack time and allow them to choose what they want to eat each day. If your children help with the process, they will be more intrinsically motivated to stick with the diet. You can make it fun by having them design a fun menu with their meal options and also have them go to the grocery store and help pick out all of the ingredients. If you are struggling with how to create a proper diet, do some research or speak with a licensed dietician that can help make a list of heart and brain-healthy foods.
  3. Lead by example. If your children see you eating unhealthy foods then you are contradicting what you say. Children are smart, and they will fight you on this subject if you don’t lead by example yourself. On the bright side, this is a great way for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle too!

 

Tip #3: Make sure your child feels comfortable communicating with you

Communication is crucial when it comes to all of the challenges your child will face each day at school. It is important for your child to feel comfortable speaking with your about bullies, fears, and anxieties. You can turn any challenge around if you set it up right.

Here are some important tips for helping your child feel comfortable about communication:

  1. Never ignore your child’s anxieties or stresses. This is a crucial mistake that many parents make, and most of the time it is by accident. Sometimes parents get tangled up with all of their own responsibilities that they brush aside situations brought up by their child that doesn’t seem important. What you need to remember is: EVERYTHING your child says to you is important to them.
  2. Ask them about their day to keep an open dialog. Sometimes children hold back sharing their fears and anxieties simply because they don’t want to bother you. By asking them how their day was and if there was anything they wanted to talk about, you are showing them you care.
  3. Try to put their anxieties and stresses into a perspective that they understand. For example, everyone is bullied at one point in their life. If your child’s stress is about bullying, share your bullying experience and let them know that you understand how they feel and then provide a simple solution that they can handle.

 

Tip #4: Continually seek opportunities that increase your child’s self-confidence

The very best thing you can equip your child with is self-confidence. There is absolutely no substitute for self-confidence. Let me repeat that because this line is very important: There is absolutely NO substitute for self-confidence! Confident children face every day with a positive outlook and tend to have better grades, more friends, and less stress.

Here are some tips for increasing your child’s self-confidence:

  1. Help them find their inner talents. Everyone has an inner passion or ability that they can sink their teeth into. This includes sports, music, reading, writing, arts, etc. Ask them what their favorite hobby is or interest, and then find a way to help them pursue their passion. Don’t ignore their requests to play the piano, or pick up a new sport. Just remember that if they do find a passion make sure you help them follow-through. Some children tend to get lazy simply because they lack motivation. It is up to you to keep them motivated.
  2. Find positive role models. Coaches, tutors, and babysitters can have a positive influence on your child’s life. In fact, many children will listen or open up to their role models more so than they do to you because they feel a special bond between them. This is not a bad thing! Think about the special people that you confide in. I bet you have special people besides your parents that have helped shape your life. Don’t be afraid to cut the cord and let your children seek inspiration from other people that you know are great role models for them.
  3. Remind them every day of how special they are. Confidence begins at home. Praise their efforts and accomplishments whether they are big or small. You don’t have to go overboard but you don’t want to let the little opportunities that build your child’s confidence slip by you.

Final Thoughts…

Reflect back to when you were a child and think of how you would have parented yourself. What would you do differently than your parents? What would you do the same? Life is a mystery and an adventure. Both good and bad experiences are part of life and can help you understand your children a little better. Keep this article somewhere special and read it when you feel like you need a little parenting boost. Hopefully one day you’ll share these tips with your child as they enter adulthood and become parents too.

If you would like to enroll your child in a Martial Arts program and SAVE 50%, check out our QUICK START CONFIDENCE COURSE at http://www.bossiermartialarts.com/special-events.html20046641_10154564607086861_3862021579079995074_n

 

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Early SKILLZ for 3-4 Year Olds

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Three to four year olds love physical activity and anything involving play. They have a rich imagination and strong desire to be less dependent on their usual caregivers. The problem we discovered is that many children this age have a hard time with structure in a group environment like what is commonly found in most Martial Arts schools. The solution we found is to provide them with their own program that targets their stage of development in a manner that keeps them entertained while at the same time building skills that set them up for success. With that said, a structured program introducing early skill-based training in Martial Arts has proven to be very successful.

 

Here’s an overview for the stages of development of children ages 3 and 4:

  • Physically– they typically have low tone and poor hand-eye-coordination.
    • We expect them initially to drop their arms when punching and fall when kicking or jumping. We also expect them to have no concept of spatial awareness, therefore they will drop things that are thrown to them and bump into people and obstacles often.
    • The goal for our program is to get them to punch without dropping their arms; kick without falling; jump without falling; and catch objects thrown from various directions and distances.
  • Intellectually– they typically have a limited vocabulary therefore learning is normally limited to visual and kinesthetic activities.
    • We expect them to initially lose focus when activities are over-complicated. We also expect them to struggle with commands that have more than two instructions.
    • The goal for our program is to get them to follow verbal commands with no visual demonstration. Also, our goal is for them to remember rules and commands without being reminded.
  • Emotionally– they typically have strong preferences and fears therefore they will normally act out of bounds when their emotions get out of control.
    • We expect them to run off the mat when they have anxiety. We also expect them to shut down when something either scares them or doesn’t go their way.
    • The goal for our program is to help them follow directions and persevere through an activity even if they are initially emotional.
  • Socially– they are typically very self-centered. Also, due to their limited vocabulary their common form of communication is mainly physical.
    • We expect them to mock each other, such as falling when their classmate falls. We also expect them to crash into things when they are excited.
    • The goals for our program are to help them build good social skills such as spatial awareness; not interrupting when others are talking; and taking turns properly.

 

By understanding the stages of development of 3 and 4-year olds, we were able to select 8 age-appropriate skills that make up the Early SKILLZ Program:

  1. KICKING
  2. PUNCHING
  3. BLOCKING
  4. CRAWLING
  5. HOPPING
  6. ROLLING
  7. RUNNING
  8. CATCHING

 

We cover one of the above skills per class (in order).  During each class we run a warm-up; deliver a mat chat about the skill; run two or three skill-building drills; and then we have them demonstrate the skill to earn their skill-stripe. They must earn all 8 skill-stripes in order to graduate to the next belt level. Once they earn their next belt they will continue to run through all 8 skills earning their skill-stripes with more challenging curriculum as they advance to each rank. They graduate to the Basic SKILLZ program after they have successfully completed all 9 belt ranks of the Early SKILLZ program.

Here is an example of what a white belt must demonstrate for each of the 8 skills above in order to earn their next belt:

  1. KICKING – Front kicking in the air, alternating legs. They must be able to execute ten kicks in a row alternating legs in order to pass.
  2. PUNCHING – Straight punching in the air, alternating arms. They must be able to execute ten punches in a row alternating arms in order to pass.
  3. BLOCKING – High blocking in the air, alternating arms. They must be able to execute ten high blocks in a row alternating arms in order to pass.
  4. CRAWLING – Bear crawling across the mat. They must be able to bear crawl up and down the floor without their knees or elbows touching the mat in order to pass.
  5. HOPPING – Hopping down the floor with both feet. They must be able to hop down the mat with both feet together, and without falling, five times in a row in order to pass.
  6. ROLLING – Rolling a ball down the floor. They must be able to roll a ball down the floor while alternating hands, and keeping at least one hand on the ball at all times, in order to pass.
  7. RUNNING – Running down the floor. They must be able to run down the floor as fast as possible without falling in order to pass.
  8. CATCHING – Catching a ball thrown underhand from one step away. They must be able to catch a ball five times in a row in order to pass.

As you can see we take Martial Arts training to a whole new level!  We use early elements of traditional Martial Arts curriculum to build skills that are appropriate for 3 and 4-year olds. This means that your child will learn and grow at a pace that is not too easy, nor too challenging. The best part is the Early SKILLZ program will equip your child with skills that they will utilize in every area of their life!

 

Bullying Tips for Back to School

Bullying Tips

 

One of the biggest concerns from parents during the back-to-school season is bullying. Some 160,000 kids skip school every day because they fear of being attacked or ridiculed by bullies. The good news is that these disturbing statistics can be limited with the proper education.

As an educator that has worked with hundreds of children on anti-bullying strategies, I have found that the most important skill a child should have when dealing with bullies is confidence.  No matter what you teach a child, it will not be effective without the confidence to put the lessons into action. Children that fall victim to bullies usually are targets because they lack the confidence to stand up for themselves. Therefore, it is very important that you begin instilling confidence within your child if you want him or her to effectively handle bullying.

Here are a few tips on how you can build confidence within your child:

Make sure that you are a good listener when talking with your child. Try not to ignore your child’s feelings. Children are more confident when they feel like they are being heard. If you, as a parent, take the time to listen to your child then he or she will have more confidence to speak their mind when dealing with bullies.

Pay attention to your child’s moods. If your child is grumpy or agitated, then most-likely he or she can act the same way around other children. That can increase the chance of your child falling victim to unnecessary arguments and fights with others. Factors that can affect your child’s mood include:

  • Lack of proper sleep each night. Children need at least 8 hours of total sleep per night. If they are not getting the proper amount of rest, then it can affect their mood the next day.
  • Insufficient diet. Certain foods affect children’s moods including foods that are high in sugar, caffeine or fat. Keep your child’s diet balanced with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Lack of exercise. Children that do not exercise regularly tend to have a lower level of energy which will affect his or her mood. This can also lead to obesity which makes your child more prone to bullying.

Keep your child active in extra-curricular sports and activities, such as Martial Arts. Your child will make plenty of new friends and learn skills which can build confidence.  Make sure the activities are healthy and are focused on character development. Also make sure that the teachers and coaches are experts at working with children and building confidence. If you pick the right activity, then you will notice a change in your child’s confidence almost immediately.

Is your child a confident individual? If so, then the next step is to speak with your child about anti-bullying strategies.

Here are five strategies that you should review with your child:

  1. Assert yourself. Have your child practice standing tall and using a strong voice saying: “That’s teasing. Stop it.” or “Stop making fun of me. It’s mean.”
  2. Use “I want.” Role-play with your child by having him or her address you (the bully) by saying: “I want you to leave me alone,” or “I want you to stop teasing me.”
  3. Question it. Have your child practice responding to an insult with a non-defensive question: “Why would you say that?” or “Why would you want to tell me I am dumb and hurt my feelings?”
  4. Ignore it. Bullies love it when their teasing upsets their victims, so help your child find a way to not let his or her tormentor get to him/ her. Pretend they’re invisible, walk away without looking at them, quickly look at something else and laugh, or look completely uninterested.
  5. Make Fun of the Teasing. Teach your child how to reply to bullies by saying something like: “Wow, you are so smart because you pick on other kids.” Or, “Did you think of that all on your own?”

Remember, the key to dealing with bullies is all about how confident your child feels. The strategies above only work if your child is confident enough to say them. Role-playing is only half of the lesson. You child must be exposed to enough role-models and equipped with the proper amount of stimulants that increase confidence.20799149_1516032361786678_5075932752371371051_n

Teaching with the Brain in Mind

At Bossier Martial Arts and Fitness we do things a bit differently than many traditional schools.

Our focus is teaching with the brain in mind!

All of our classes focus on generating what we call D.O.S.E.: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins via our age specific Martial Arts classes, not simply teaching kicks, punches, and character.

Each of these chemicals will play a major role in your child’s development, so if you’re looking for great role models, a rewarding environment, a gratifying experience, and amazing physical activity, our classes are perfect for creating a positive socially stimulating environment.

Our understanding of how to trigger the release of these “feel good” chemicals helps us overcome many of the challenges we see with children these days, and with that education, we can coach them to be the best version of themselves!

 

 

SKILLZ Worldwide, Inc.

HOW DOES MARTIAL ARTS DEVELOP LEADERSHIP SKILLS?

Leadership is something that we talk about with our kids, a lot. But what does leadership mean? And, how does martial arts training help develop those skills?

First, let’s define leadership. A leader is someone that does some, many or even all of the following:

  1. Inspires and motivates others
  2. Displays high integrity and honesty
  3. Solves problems and analyzes issues
  4. Drives for results
  5. Communicates powerfully and prolifically
  6. Builds relationships
  7. Displays technical or professional expertise
  8. Develops others
  9. Innovates
  10. Champions Change

You can see how martial arts training can develop and influence all of the areas in the list above.   But, let’s focus on the first and how that fits into the martial arts paradigm.

The martial arts are known for “The Black Belt”. Depending on the style of martial arts, there are different color belt systems that mark the pathway from white belt (a beginner) to a black belt (someone who is more advanced).

In our Children’s Martial Arts System, we’ve divided the journey to black belt into 4 age-specific groups.   Each of those groups is divided into 9 Belts. And each Belt is divided into 8 stripes.

When a child starts martial arts, Black Belt is the goal, but it is far away and often difficult for a student to conceptualize.   The nice thing about our martial arts progression system that the journey is broken down into the small steps mentioned above.

The students start to understand that in order to reach a goal, any goal,  they need to break it down into smaller chunks or steps and climb those steps one at a time.   Each step isn’t just progress, it is also an attainment, an attainment that had specific requirements and defined work to attain.

Over time, the student starts to learn a few things. First how to create a framework for goal setting for themselves. Second, that a series of small successes leads to greater success and that instills confidence in them as well. And finally, as they rise through the ranks that they can inspire, motivate and teach others to do the same.

This process inspires and motivates them as well as everyone around them.

Demonstrating Leadership

Many activities like sports, school clubs and martial arts teach leadership skills and develop the aforementioned qualities in children.  However, as parents, it is also important for us to identify those activities that will also give our children the opportunity to demonstrate leadership in additional to learning the skills of leadership.

The SKILLZ martial arts program at Bossier Martial Arts does provide this opportunity through our S.T.O.R.M. Team (Special Team of Role Models) Development Program.  Because of the belt system / rank system that is inherent to martial arts, mentoring and modeling is an integral part of each students learning and progression through the system.

As a beginner, a student not only learns from his/her teachers, but also learns from “higher” belts, student with more knowledge and experience.  The high belt students also know that the junior students are learning from their example.

Additionally, once the students reach a requisite level of proficiency we also teach them “how to teach”: How to start and stop a class, how to run warm ups, how to verbalize and explain physical techniques.

Ultimately, they need to learn how to prepare and plan for a class as well as get in front a group of students (sometimes even their peers) and LEAD.

Homework for Parents

Looking at the list of 10 leadership traits above, what are some activities that you can do with you kids so that they can learn and demonstrate leadership?

source-Dragon Gym, SKILLZ Age-Specific Martial Arts Training for Kids and Teens

BOSSIER MARTIAL ARTS AND FITNESS

Developing Life and Leadership Skills One Kick at a Time

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Developing Life and Leadership Skills One Kick at a Time!

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5 TIPS TO GET KIDS MOVING

It’s never too early for kids to learn the benefits of getting fit and eating a healthy diet. For many kids, eating junk food and playing video games is a norm. However, paying attention and getting your kids involved in a fitness program can result in a lot of fun.

Here are five fun fitness ideas that kids will be excited to do after school:

1. Chasing Bubbles

Chasing bubbles are not necessarily just for the younger kids. There are so many ways children of all ages can use them to have fun! Whatever creative activity you come up with using bubbles you know that it will surely encourage them to run, jump, and twist for hours at a time.

There are many types of commercial bubble mixes and plastic wands that could help with your activities. Just make sure you are in an open space, like the park, for maximum enjoyment.

2. Crazy Dancing

Children love to dance! Sometimes the wilder, the better. Use any kind of music playing device you can stop and start and even select some upbeat tunes. When the music plays, ask the children to dance around the room. When the music stops, they must freeze. Change the tempo of the music for different results, and encourage children to stretch, bend, twist and shimmy.

3. Old-fashioned Activities

Previous generations grew up with some basic toys and outdoor equipment that lead to hours of activity and play. Consider introducing your children to some of the classics like jump rope, hula hoops, roller skates, and hop scotch, just to name a few. They will not only get plenty of exercise, but they will improve their coordination and balance as well.

4. Martial arts

The best martial arts schools offer a variety of classes designed especially for youth. Kids will get the same benefits that adults do in stretching, bending, and strengthening the body and the mind. The martial arts is a wonderful exercise for all ages and best of all, the whole family can do it together.

5. Walk the Dog

When kids need to get moving, there’s no better companion than the family dog. Set out a walking route for kids and dogs that will encourage them to go just a little farther each day. Not only with the children benefit from walking the dog, but your four-legged friend will love the extra attention and the chance to get out and about the neighborhood.

There’s no need for special equipment or clever plans to get your children to embrace fitness. When they develop a positive, active lifestyle as part of their after school routine, children and teens are more likely to continue putting fitness as a priority in their lives. What more could parents want than to see their children get excited about being healthy and happy.

Kick N Fit Kids

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Early SKILLZ (for 3 and 4 year olds) will equip your child with skills that they will utilize in every area of their life!

Three to four year olds love physical activity and anything involving play. They have a rich imagination and strong desire to be less dependent on their usual caregivers. The problem we discovered is that many children this age have a hard time with structure in a group environment like what is commonly found in most Martial Arts schools. The solution we found is to provide them with their own program that targets their stage of development in a manner that keeps them entertained while at the same time building skills that set them up for success. With that said, a structured program introducing early skill-based training in Martial Arts has proven to be very successful.

Here’s an overview for the stages of development of children ages 3 and 4:

  • Physically– they typically have low tone and poor hand-eye-coordination.
    • We expect them initially to drop their arms when punching and fall when kicking or jumping. We also expect them to have no concept of spatial awareness, therefore they will drop things that are thrown to them and bump into people and obstacles often.
    • The goal for our program is to get them to punch without dropping their arms; kick without falling; jump without falling; and catch objects thrown from various directions and distances.
  • Intellectually– they typically have a limited vocabulary therefore learning is normally limited to visual and kinesthetic activities.
    • We expect them to initially lose focus when activities are over-complicated. We also expect them to struggle with commands that have more than two instructions.
    • The goal for our program is to get them to follow verbal commands with no visual demonstration. Also, our goal is for them to remember rules and commands without being reminded.
  • Emotionally– they typically have strong preferences and fears therefore they will normally act out of bounds when their emotions get out of control.
    • We expect them to run off the mat when they have anxiety. We also expect them to shut down when something either scares them or doesn’t go their way.
    • The goal for our program is to help them follow directions and persevere through an activity even if they are initially emotional.
  • Socially– they are typically very self-centered. Also, due to their limited vocabulary their common form of communication is mainly physical.
    • We expect them to mock each other, such as falling when their classmate falls. We also expect them to crash into things when they are excited.
    • The goals for our program are to help them build good social skills such as spatial awareness; not interrupting when others are talking; and taking turns properly.

By understanding the stages of development of 3 and 4-year olds, we were able to select 8 age-appropriate skills that make up the Early SKILLZ Program:

  1. KICKING
  2. PUNCHING
  3. BLOCKING
  4. CRAWLING
  5. HOPPING
  6. ROLLING
  7. RUNNING
  8. CATCHING

We cover one of the above skills per class (in order).  During each class we run a warm-up; deliver a mat chat about the skill; run two or three skill-building drills; and then we have them demonstrate the skill to earn their skill-stripe. They must earn all 8 skill-stripes in order to graduate to the next belt level. Once they earn their next belt they will continue to run through all 8 skills earning their skill-stripes with more challenging curriculum as they advance to each rank. They graduate to the Basic SKILLZ program after they have successfully completed all 9 belt ranks of the Early SKILLZ program.

Here is an example of what a white belt must demonstrate for each of the 8 skills above in order to earn their next belt:

  1. KICKING – Front kicking in the air, alternating legs. They must be able to execute ten kicks in a row alternating legs in order to pass.
  2. PUNCHING – Straight punching in the air, alternating arms. They must be able to execute ten punches in a row alternating arms in order to pass.
  3. BLOCKING – High blocking in the air, alternating arms. They must be able to execute ten high blocks in a row alternating arms in order to pass.
  4. CRAWLING – Bear crawling across the mat. They must be able to bear crawl up and down the floor without their knees or elbows touching the mat in order to pass.
  5. HOPPING – Hopping down the floor with both feet. They must be able to hop down the mat with both feet together, and without falling, five times in a row in order to pass.
  6. ROLLING – Rolling a ball down the floor. They must be able to roll a ball down the floor while alternating hands, and keeping at least one hand on the ball at all times, in order to pass.
  7. RUNNING – Running down the floor. They must be able to run down the floor as fast as possible without falling in order to pass.
  8. CATCHING – Catching a ball thrown underhand from one step away. They must be able to catch a ball five times in a row in order to pass.

As you can see we take Martial Arts training to a whole new level!  We use early elements of traditional Martial Arts curriculum to build skills that are appropriate for 3 and 4-year olds. This means that your child will learn and grow at a pace that is not too easy, nor too challenging. The best part is the Early SKILLZ program will equip your child with skills that they will utilize in every area of their life!

-SKILLZ Worldwide, Inc