Definitions, Executive Functions Training, Great for All Ages, Parent Tips, The Happy Student Podcast

#107 Learning to Think About What You’re Doing

Metacognition: a useful skill that can help you study better because you know what you’re good at and what you need to improve. It can help you make better decisions, like when you just want to yell at someone because that would feel good but you realize that’s not actually the best course of action – which is helpful as a student, in the workforce on a team, as well as as a partner, parent, and friend. But it’s a really difficult thing to teach. Fireborn’s got 6 tips to make it easier!

CHECK OUT THE EPISODE BELOW: 

[smart_podcast_player]

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT…

Metacognition is defined as “an awareness or understanding of one’s own thought process.” It’s  thinking about thinking.

The executive skills specialists, Peg Dawson and Richard Guare, describe good metacognition as…

  • You can routinely evaluate your performance and devise methods for personal improvement,
  • You can step back from a situation in order to make objective decisions,
  • You can ‘read’ situations well and adjust your behavior based on the reactions of others.

Metacognition is a useful skill that can help you study better because you know what you’re good at and what you need to improve, so you can practice that deliberate studying from episode 95. It can help you make better decisions to choose the best course of action. 

Ways to help your child develop metacognition

Make some goals.

  • It’s really helpful if your kid comes up with these goals for themselves because then the goals are something they really care about. 
  • You need a goal so that you can practice thinking about evaluating your performance and coming up with ways to improve.

Strategize.

  • Strategizing and spending time planning helps us think about what we actually want to accomplish, come up with a way to do it, and then we can actually do it. Practicing going through this thought process helps develop metacognition because it helps us evaluate what we are doing and adjust our behavior

Ask questions.

The following questions are super helpful and come from a blog called Inner Drive. So the questions to be asking are:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What should I do first?
  • Am I on the right track?
  • What can I do differently?
  • Who can I ask for help? 

And then there are questions to ask yourself at the end:

  • What worked well?
  • What could I have done better?
  • Can I apply this to other situations?
  • Ask these questions in a collaborative tone as your child works on accomplishing their goals. It would also be a great idea for you to set your own goals and ask yourself these questions to model all of this for your kid.

Stop and take stock.

  • With those goals that you have, make plans to check-in later. Maybe that means you set a calendar reminder for a week from today to see how you’re doing. Or maybe it means once you’ve done 1 hour of work, you take a break and reflect on the work you’ve done.

Review behavior and tell stories.

  • Once you have worked towards achieving your goal, or you have achieved your goal, review what you did well and what needs improvement. 
  • One way to do that is to tell a simple story – the story of what you did. Taking the time to say out loud what you did slows down your thought process and gives you time to pause and reflect.

Meditate.

  • So much of the trouble with executive functions comes from stress and/or an inability to slow down and make intentional choices. Meditation helps with that. It’s a stress reducer and it slows us down so that we are responsive instead of reflexive, so that we make intentional choices instead of being driven by habit. 
  • For help with meditation, there are apps like Calm and 10% Happier, and the book Sitting Still Like a Frog is a good one too.

Resources:

Inner Drive Questions

Teaching Metacognition

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Definitions, Difficult Topics, Easy Action Items, Executive Functions Training, Parent Tips, The Happy Student Podcast

#105 Emotional Games with Alison Smith

We so often value logic and discount the value of emotions – well not today! Today, parent coach Alison Smith tells us about the importance of emotions and gives us ideas on how to help our kids develop their emotional intelligence.

CHECK OUT THE EPISODE BELOW: 

[smart_podcast_player]

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT…

The importance of emotional intelligence is beyond just knowing that we have emotions and your children have emotions, so we need to deal with them.

Emotional Quotient (EQ) is our emotional intelligence. Our EQ is a better predictor of our future success than IQ.

When we are unable to identify within ourselves a particular emotion that we are feeling, it stays stuck inside. So, we don’t deal with it in a proactive and healthy manner. 

When we can pinpoint the exact emotion that we are experiencing, we can physically feel a change. It feels lighter and less intimidating. We can grow in our confidence, take a deep breath, and feel more ready to take on what we are faced with. 

In the English language there are about 30,000 words related to emotions. But, we typically only use about twelve words. Until we can state the emotion that is very specific to what we are feeling, we are still stuck. The emotion will then grow until we explode, leak, or both. 

By growing our emotional vocabulary development and recognizing it within ourselves and others we grow our empathy towards what it is others are experiencing. If we can pinpoint the emotions others are feeling (or take our best guess), then we can almost immediately feel more compassion towards them. Our interactions and communication will then be very different once we get a sense of where they are coming from. This can change relationships at home between parents with their children, couples, and parents with grandparents.  

Alison recommends a card game called You EQ that can help build one’s EQ.

  • There are cards called Conversational EQ because we are using conversation to develop our intelligence and also using conversation in the real world after the game.
  • Each card has an emotion on it. The simplest way to play is to identify the feeling that you have on your card and then say something about your thinking in relation to the emotion.  
  • There is no big conversation about it. There isn’t any feedback for each other, besides saying, “Thanks for sharing.”
  • This game should ideally be played several times a week for approximately ten minutes. It can be played with your kids, colleagues, work team, etc.
  • This game will help retrain your brain and improve conversation. 
  • There are about five different ways to play with each deck and each deck has a different focus. So, there is always something new. 

Other recommendations:

  • Today I Feel…: An Alphabet of Feelings
    • This book helps grow your child’s emotional vocabulary, which is an important starting place for emotional intelligence. 
  • The Ungame 
    • This is a non-competitive board game that works on improving your social and communication skills.  

References & Resources:

Alison Smith Parent Coach

You EQ Games

The Ungame

Today I Feel…: An Alphabet of Feelings

Michele Borba’s book: UnSelfie: How Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All About Me World

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Definitions, Easy Action Items, Executive Functions Training, School Advice, The Happy Student Podcast

#100 : Work that Memory

Working memory is basically your short-term memory. If you struggle with working memory, you just don’t have the space in your short-term memory to remember what you just read. It can be hard for note taking because maybe you want to respond to your teacher’s question, but the person next to you is making a good point – how do you write down what they are saying while remembering what you want to say? It’s super hard and frustrating! So we’ve got some tips to help you improve your kids’ working memory!

CHECK OUT THE EPISODE BELOW: 

[smart_podcast_player]

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT…

Working memory is basically your short-term memory. It’s all the information you are storing and using now.

If you disagree with the following statements, it means that working memory is not one of your strengths:

  • I have a good memory for facts, dates, and details.
  • I am very good at remembering the things I have committed to do.
  • I seldom need reminders to complete tasks.

Here are some other things to look out for if you are worried your kid might have weak working memory skills (these are provided by Attitude Magazine):

  • You want to join in a conversation, but, by the time the other person stops talking, you forget what you wanted to say.
  • You consistently lose your keys, cell phone, wallet, or homework.
  • You get lost easily, even when you were just given directions.
  • You have trouble following a conversation because you forget what the other person has just said.
  • You have many unfinished projects because you become distracted and forget about the first project.
  • You plan to do some work at home, but you forget to bring needed items with you.
  • You have to reread a paragraph several times to retain the information.
  • You miss deadlines at work because of your disorganization and inability to follow through on projects.

Tips on improving working memory:

Write it all down

Write down everything. If your kid really wants to use an app for things like a planner, that’s fine, but there is something about actually writing it down on paper that can help improve memory as well.

Break down overwhelming projects into simple, targeted tasks

Write down all of the things you have to do to study – like redo all the old tests and quizzes, redo the old homework problems, and so on. Then do one task at a time.

Reduce multitasking

Multitasking is really taxing on your brain’s resources. It’s much easier for your brain to do one thing and then move on to the next.

Develop routines

Routines make it so you don’t have to think about what you are doing – you just do it automatically. That reduces the amount of resources your brain has to use, freeing it up to spend those resources on other things.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness and meditation help to reduce distractions and improve focus, both of which are very important to improving your working memory.

Play games

Games like Memory, the card game, Uno, Go Fish, Crazy Eights, and Sudoku help you to stretch and grow those working memory muscles. You can also check out CogMed, Play Attention, and Lumosity for some working memory games.

Work on visualization

Have your kid draw pictures of what they just heard.

Have your child teach you the skill that they are working on

This gets them engaging with the information in a more active way than passively listening to the teacher and trying to remember it later.

One big overarching theme is reduce distractions.

Another theme is to help your kid interact with the information by visualizing it or teaching it to you or making it interesting or unique in another way that we didn’t talk about like turning it into a song or something like that.

References & Resources:

Attitude Mag

CogMed

Lumosity

Play Attention

Understood.org

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Definitions, Parent Tips, The Happy Student Podcast

#96 The Effectiveness of Helicopter Parenting

Recently research about the effectiveness of helicopter parenting came out – it seemed to say that helicopter parenting works. And yet, experts, like us, have warned against it. So Fireborn took a look at this research and came to the conclusion that maybe helicopter parenting works, but the research affirms what experts have always been saying: an authoritative parenting style is the most important thing for positive outcomes.

CHECK OUT THE EPISODE BELOW: 

[smart_podcast_player]

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT…

No one that I know wants to be a helicopter parent. It’s more like they feel forced into it because of societal pressures. And then they feel ashamed of being a helicopter parent because all of the experts tell them it’s actually bad for their kids. I try to avoid talking about helicopter parenting or tiger moms or the lawnmower parent or any other term used for parents that’s not scientific and based in research.

Wikipedia says that a helicopter parent is: a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. It is hyper-involved parenting that this New York Times article says “is the route to kids’ success in today’s unequal world.”

Helicopter parenting is not one of the three main types of parenting researched by researchers (though, to be fair, it is now being researched, but it has not found a place amongst these three styles). These three styles are:

  1. Authoritarian: a parenting style characterized by high demands and low responsiveness. Parents with an authoritarian style have very high expectations of their children, yet provide very little in the way of feedback and nurturance. Mistakes tend to be punished harshly.
  2. Permissive: a type of parenting style characterized by low demands with high responsiveness. Permissive parents tend to be very loving, yet provide few guidelines and rules. These parents do not expect mature behavior from their children and often seem more like a friend than a parental figure.
  3. Authoritative: a parenting style characterized by high responsiveness and high demands. Authoritative parents are responsive to the child’s emotional needs while having high standards. They set limits and are very consistent in enforcing boundaries.
  • Authoritative parenting is best, has the best outcomes, is backed by a ton of research, and it is also the hardest and most time intensive. It takes time to talk with your kid about why what they did was wrong and what they will do in the future and make them understand that what they did was wrong, but also maintain your relationship.

Helicopter parenting could be associated with any of these parenting styles. Helicopter parenting is making sure that your kid has done their homework, maybe by knowing exactly what homework they have to do and reviewing it for their kid. An authoritarian parent might take dessert or screen time away if you didn’t do your homework when you said you had. A permissive parent might excuse the lie away – “Oh my child is just so overwhelmed by work.” And then help their kid do the homework together. And an authoritative parent might talk to their kid about why they lied and get to the bottom of that.

There is new research according to the article that is going to upset psychologists and other experts who have “[insisted] that hyper-parenting backfires – creating a generation of stressed-out kids who can’t function alone.” And what this new research shows, arguably, is that helicopter parenting works – kids of helicopter parents are more successful, they just also happen to be more stressed out too.

The article “The Bad News About Helicopter Parenting: It Works” starts talking about helicopter parenting and talks about how parents are currently spending more hours a day parenting kids than they used to do. And then the article sites this research that was done on how successful kids were depending on how “intense” their parents’ parenting style was. Kids who had “intense” parenting performed better on tests. The author transitions to say that the traditional parenting styles affected those tests scores. So parents who were strict (or authoritarian), their kids did not get the full benefits of the helicopter parenting. The article says, “The most effective parents, according to the authors, are ‘authoritative.’ They use reasoning to persuade kids to do things that are good for them. Instead of strict obedience, they emphasize adaptability, problem-solving and independence – skills that will help their offspring in future workplaces that we can’t even imagine yet.” The author continues by saying that these kids get more college and postgraduate degrees, are healthier and have higher self-esteem. This is exactly what that 20 years of research on authoritative parenting has said all along!

So when I read this article, I find that it simply reinforces what we already know: that kids of authoritative parents have the best outcomes. The most important thing is to be an authoritative parent to the best of your ability. Whether or not you are a helicopter parent, that seems negligible or like a non-sequitur because we already knew that kids of authoritative parents did better. This research said that kids of intensive parents did better but were also more stressed out. But the kids who had authoritative parents, even if they were intensive, whatever that means, were healthier and had higher self-esteem. And what other researchers have shown is that it can protect against that stress.

Maybe being a helicopter parent can help your kids. It can also stress them out. And the research is clear that if you are choosing a parenting style, authoritative is best. You can be authoritative and a helicopter parent. So, if you are going to be a helicopter parent, and I know it is close to impossible to avoid being one, be an authoritative helicopter parent.

Resources:

Lighthouse Parenting

Because I Said So

“The Bad News About Helicopter Parenting: It Works”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Definitions, Great for All Ages, School Advice, Study Tips, The Happy Student Podcast

#95: Deliberate Studying

Often kids waste time studying things they already know and then they don’t have time to dive deep into studying the stuff that is challenging them. Teaching them about what deliberate studying is and how to study deliberately so that they focus on the hard stuff can help them use their time more efficiently and effectively!

CHECK OUT THE EPISODE BELOW: 

[smart_podcast_player]

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT…

Deliberate studying is the term I’m using for what experts have been calling “deliberate practice”. So to define deliberate practice, it is:

  • At least 1 hour of intensely focused practice or study (and no more than 2 hours before a break)
  • Purposeful, focused attention
  • With a specific goal of improving performance

It differs from regular practice, which often includes more mindless repetition. When you are just practicing, you run the risk of reviewing stuff you already know and so you aren’t really learning anything. When you are deliberately practicing, on the other hand, you figure out what you don’t know and you work on improving that specific skill. When we think about deliberate studying, we should be thinking about focusing on the areas that you don’t have a good handle on – things that are challenging. They need to practice those challenging problems and get feedback so they can see where they went wrong and try it again.

Deliberate studying would mean trying the problems they missed on their homework again. If they get them wrong again, it means looking at how to do it correctly and then trying again and practicing some similar problems until they get them right every time and they are no longer challenging.

For English, maybe your child isn’t good at writing essays. Deliberate studying would mean writing essays. It would also require feedback, so you may need to be there to provide some gentle, constructive feedback so they can keep improving. To improve their writing, they may also want to look at recommended outlines for writing quick essays so that they have a template.

How can you help your child learn to study deliberately?

Talk to them about it. You’ll definitely get better results if you can talk to them about it when they are young and still willing to listen to you. If they are older, they may still listen to you if you can say it in a helpful, suggesting way and frame it as your experience.

Simply explain to your child deliberate studying. And while you are teaching them about deliberate studying, it would be extra convincing and helpful if you told them about a time you used deliberate studying. Kids love to know that you struggled too and that they aren’t going through these tough things alone. So sharing your story can be really powerful. It’s also really helpful because it gives them a concrete example of what deliberate studying looks like.

  • “Oh, now that you are starting to take tests, I want to teach you about a trick that really helped me when I was studying. It’s called deliberate studying.”
  • “I see you’re having trouble studying. You know what I did when I didn’t have enough time to study everything and I really needed to focus, I used this trick called deliberate studying.”

Teaching children about what deliberate studying is and how to study deliberately so that they focus on the hard stuff can help them use their time more efficiently and effectively!

Studying References:
How to Study
Study that Vocab!
Tackling Reading Comprehension

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Definitions, Difficult Topics

Is My Child Depressed?

10 Warning Signs

(for children ages 6 and up)

Upset problem child with head in hands sitting on staircase conc

  1. Anger and irritable mood. Depression in kids often manifests as anger and/or a general moodiness in between outbursts of anger.
  2. Diminished or loss of interest or pleasure in activities they typically like. (For instance, no longer wanting to play with friends or to eat ice cream).
  3. Change in appetite or weight when they are not intending to lose or gain weight.
  4. Sleep disturbance: daytime sleeping or nighttime wakefulness.
  5. Hyper-agitation or extra slowness. Hyper-agitation includes: hand wringing, not being able to sit still, or pulling on clothes. Another potential sign of depression is the exact opposite: moving more slowly than usual.
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy.
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt. Being overly self-critical, having difficulty identifying their positive traits. Excessive or inappropriate feelings of guilt or worrying. (For instance, feeling guilty when a stranger on the opposite side of the street trips and falls.)
  8. Impaired concentration or an inability to make decisions.
  9. Delusions or hallucinations.
  10. Recurring thoughts of death or suicide. If your child is actively having thoughts of suicide, immediately call 911 or go to the emergency room. If your child is self-harming, call a mobile crisis unit.

Depression is highly uncommon in children under the age of 5, occurring about 0.5% of the time in children 3-5 years old. It increases to 1.4% for children 6-11 and to 3.5% for children 12 to 17. Depression is more prevalent in females.

If you believe your child may be depressed, there is help. You can talk to:

  • Your pediatrician (#1 recommendation).
  • Your school’s psychologist or guidance counselor.
  • Your child’s teacher.
  • Your spiritual leader.

References:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Borin, L. (2015). Pediatric unipolar depression: Epidemiology, clinical features, assessment, and diagnosis. Uptodate.com

Osborn, A. (2016). Personal communication. Allison is completing her Masters degree in mental health counseling at Lesley University. She currently works as a counselor for children and adolescents with emotional disturbances.

Osborn, F. (2016). Personal communication. Dr. Osborn is a pediatrician at NYU Langone.

 

Definitions, Easy Action Items, Great for All Ages, Special Phrase Language, Stress Management

The Absence of a Negative is Not a Good

 

The Goods:

  • One good thing you did. (“I shared my cookies with my brother.”)
  • One good thing someone else did. (“Cindy walked with me to the nurse’s office when I wasn’t feeling well.”)
  • One good thing. (“We played dodgeball in gym class today.”)

Going through The Goods once a day (with your kids) helps you (and your kids) maintain a positive outlook on life. It helps us consistently search out the good things in our lives instead of the negatives.

Happy family having fun on floor of in living room at home, laug

But sometimes what your child may think is a “Good” is actually not: the absence of a negative is not a good. Why? Because it keeps the focus on the negative and not the good. For instance:

  • “I don’t have homework tonight” is not a suitable “Good”.Classroom Under Control
  • “School was canceled today for a snow day!”
  • “My English teacher was sick so we had a substitute and did not do anything in class today!”
  • “My math teacher didn’t call on me.”
  • “I didn’t have a pop quiz like I thought I would.”
  • “I didn’t punch my sister.”

Goods look more like:

  • “I have a lot of free time tonight! I’m going to read a book” (in our dreams…).
  • “We had a snow day and I played outside with my siblings!”Kids Playing In The Snow
  • “And I made a snowman!”Funny kid boy in colorful clothes making a snowman, outdoors
  • “I did well on my math quiz!”
  • “I dominated my pop quiz.”
  • “My sister and I played cards when we got home from school and had a really fun time.”

Good luck finding The Real Goods!