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How games can teach behaviour

Games are a important part of learning at any age, but especially with kids they are the most natural and effective method of learning all sorts of skills from physical to mental to social.

We use games in our classes to teach behaviours, as well as skills and I want to take a minute to look at a couple examples of how this works.

First up: “The Ball Game” as the preschoolers call it.

One of our 5-7 year olds helping out with a game of ball tag in the preschool class

The game is pretty simple, we use some big exercise balls and throw them at the kids, the kids have to run away and dodge the balls. If a ball touches them they freeze until rescued by another child. This can be through use of a technique (generally a takedown) shooting under the legs, helping them up from a seated position, etc.

The balls are big, bouncy, and while they can occasionally knock the kid off their feet don’t really hurt at all. Making it fun and safe.

But what are they learning?

There is the more obvious, they are running and exercising. They are learning basic tactics to run and zig zag, to predict collisions as they try to avoid the ball without running into it. Awareness of their surroundings, etc. They are also learning to fall (especially when they are using takedowns), get bumped and keep playing because… well… they are having fun doing so.

But the more important lessons of the game for young kids aren’t as obvious because we often take them for granted as adults.

Being able to resist the urge to run around when everyone else is running around and remain frozen is a skill that for a preschooler takes some practice. They are natural copy-cats who like to run… so when everyone else is running and they are to remain frozen their is a strong lesson in self-control going on.

The second really important lesson is learning to notice the other kids and when they need help, and then helping them. Preschoolers naturally love to help… but at the same time tend to view the world in a very self-centred sort of way for those years.

For the second example: Shield Sumo!

Shield Sumo at Summer Camp

This one gets used with all ages, and is a safe way to teach some really fundamental principles when it comes to wrestling. The basic idea is two opponents get a shield each, they win if the other person steps out of the ring or falls down. This is a game that goes great at all sorts of events and we often use in birthday parties as it is really easy to get started and a lot of fun to do.

But apart from simply smashing each other with shields it isolates some really important strategy and tactics.

When a stronger / bigger child is pushing into them they learn to snap back out of the way, making the pushing child fall / lunge forward. When someone attempts to smash them they learn to pivot. Pushing, pulling, pivoting & shoving are the keys to off balancing when it comes to takedowns and throws, and the game represents a simplified way to isolate and practice those elements in a very safe and very beginner friendly way.

 

Getting kids to do what they need to: Yes Patterns and No Patterns

As a continuation of the previous article here is another useful trick on getting kids to do what they need to.

Everyone that has worked with young kids has seen first hand how powerful “yes” and “no” patterns, especially “no” patterns can be.  This is when the child becomes set in a mindset where they refuse… well… everything and every answer is “no”.

It’s like a car that is stuck in reverse, every time you hit the gas you go backwards, regardless of where you want to go or where you try to steer.

If you know a child you can get a feel for the sorts of things that lock them in that “no” mindset sometimes, and this can help work them through it.

The trick is to first get them in a “yes” mindset, before hitting the potential obstacle.  Once that momentum is going it is easier to keep going then to start at the obstacle.  Think of it as getting through a snow drift, if you start at the drift and try to go you’re going to get stuck, but if you get some momentum going first you have a much better chance of crashing through it.

In class what does that look like?  Well, a simple example is how we start every preschool class.  We sit down, ask them how they are doing and what they’ve been doing. First we listen to them, then they will be more open to listening to us.  Next we start with something simple that every preschooler loves to do… we run.  If our warmups started with something hard like frog jumps it would be a lot harder to get them going.  So instead its something easy, something fun, and something they will want to do.

How might this translate to the home?

Find the things that are sources of resistance at home, and look for the elements of it that don’t meet resistance and start with those.  If bedtime is a trouble spot instead of starting with brushing teeth, try starting with picking out a bed time story,  then picking out PJ’s, then once a little momentum is built it is brush teeth so that we can read the story.

Build that “yes” momentum through fun things and choice, then use it to carry through to the pieces of resistance.

And if they do get stuck in a “no” mindset trying to push forward is not likely the solution.  It’s just like that snow drift, once you are stuck, you’re stuck.  Trying to go forward when it isn’t working just digs you in deeper.  You have to back up, reset, and try again.

This sometimes just means taking a break, letting them have a few mins to reset and then going at it different.  It can also mean changing focus to something completely different and unrelated until you get back in a positive mindset and then taking another approach.

Kids are really not so different from adults, although in some ways a little simpler.  If they have decided “no” and put themselves in that mindset forcing a change too it is taking away their sense of choice.  They sometimes get “stuck” a little more though, so if one thing is a “no” everything can become a “no” until they are able to reset a little.

More jedi mind tricks to follow, so keep watching our Facebook page or our blog :)

Getting kids to do what they need to: The choice trick

As a instructor I have the benefit of working with 100′s of kids in every age group. As well as being part of larger networks of experts and other instructors.

So I want to share some useful tricks me and my team use in class to work with different sorts of behaviour.

The thing to remember is that often kids get stuck in a specific mindset, and in order to get past it you have to change the approach.

For example, if we have a child that doesn’t want to do a technique pushing them to do it when they have decided not too is unlikely to work.

Defiance is part of kids finding their own way, learning to develop opinions and preferences. Once they have decided “no” changing that stated opinion is tricky.

One option is to give them a choice, rather then trying to force them to go against what they have already expressed. Even once they decide they do want to do it, they will have a hard time contradicting the opinion they already decided on.

So instead of and order “go do the technique” it becomes “do you want to do the technique with Sarah or Paris” and often that is enough to give them the sense of choice they desire.

This same tactic can be transferred to other aspects of their life as well. Just remember that often defiance is simply a desire for choice.

“Do you want Mom or dad to tuck you in?”

“Do you want to wear your red shoes or blue shoes today?”

“It’s time to go, what song do you want to play in the car?”

Offering a choice gives them some control and allows them to express preference. And once they have expresses it, just like once they have expresses defiance it affects their mindset. Once they have mentally and verbally committed to the red shoes, they are far less likely to refuse to put shoes on at all.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Happy St. Patricks Day! – Irish Martial Arts?

Happy St. Patricks Day everyone!

Did you know that Ireland is the home to several types of martial arts?

Most people are familliar with Irelands reputation for bare-knuckle boxing.  

At this point bare knuckle boxing has become almost a caricature of Irish culture thanks in part to that Notre Dame leprechaun.

Bare knuckle boxing tended to take on some distinctive characteristics from modern boxing, without the gloves to protect your hands both offence and defence have to change a little to keep your hands in tact until the end of the match.

Especially considering that a lot of bare knuckle matches could go on for a very long time…

 

But Ireland is also the home of a form of wrestling called “Collar and Elbow” which was done both with a jacket similar to Judo and without one.  This style utilized a lot of the same sort of trips, sweeps, submissions and controls as modern Judo and Jiu Jitsu.

Irish wrestling was also very popular in early North America.

Irish collar and elbow wrestling had a influence on other forms of wrestling at the time and it’s influence can still be seen in modern wrestling as well as staged pro-wrestling matches where the collar and elbow tie up is very commonly used to start matches.

 

In addition to the empty handed boxing and wrestling techniques, Irish martial arts include the use of the Shillelagh, or club.  The Shillelagh has become a bit of a symbol of “Irishness” over the years.

In addition to self-defence purposes Irish stick-fighting ended up becoming associated with gang or faction violence and largely faded away by the turn of the 20th century.

 

 

Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening

It’s really basic stuff, but easy to forget. Teens need a place to belong, and something to belong too. And there is a period in there where it’s sometimes hard to fine. If they don’t find it in a productive and healthy place, it’s easy to find in a unhealthy place.

Kids hit a age where they feel they should be more independent then they are able too, where there is a gap in between being a “kid” and being able to work and gain independence. I think the best thing that can be done at this age is to keep them involved in something outside of school and to help them find a way to feel they bring value to something.

https://mosaicscience.com/story/iceland-prevent-teen-substance-abuse

I’ll start Monday…

I'll start next Monday...

 

We humans are natural procrastinators… we like to plan to start things we really don’t want to do later.  Maybe Monday, or the First of the month… or maybe for New Years, after the holidays.

Of course when those days come around we still won’t want to do it. If it was something we wanted to do we’d already be doing it.  So Monday comes around, then it’s Tuesday… then it’s might was well just start Monday as the week is half over already.

The difference between success and failure is action.  Start now, not tomorrow, not next week, not after the holidays.  If you want something start now.  The time will never be perfect, you’re probably never going to run out of reasons not too.  But by starting, even if imperfectly, at least you are moving forward.  And as long as you are moving forward you’ll get somewhere.

Start and stay committed to continuing, even when you might not want to.  That’s the secret to succeeding in so many things.