Childhood is short! Reducing time at school can be advantageous to building relationships within your family and raising a balanced child.
Keeping Tech in Check
It’s important to set boundaries for your kids, especially when it involves technology. Let them know your expectations and prevent problems before they happen.
Worriers and Warriors
Do you know a worrier? Perhaps you have a child or were a child who worried about everything. The February 8, 2013, issue of the New York Times had a great article on worriers and warriors that helps us understand why some people present such a predisposition and how we can help them.
New research shows that there is a gene that is responsible for some of the worrying behavior that we see. This COMT gene carries the code for an enzyme that clears dopamine from the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where we plan, make decisions, anticipate future consequences and resolve conflicts. Dopamine gives us that rush that lets us concentrate. It changes the firing rate of neurons, making us more alert and able to act. The enzyme from the COMT gene removes the dopamine from the prefrontal cortex. There are two variations of this enzyme: one of the variants builds enzymes that slowly remove dopamine, the other rapidly clears the dopamine.
Those with slow-acting enzymes have a cognitive advantage. The dopamine lingers and they are focused and have superior executive functioning. Those with fast-acting enzymes have too much dopamine removed, so their overall level of prefrontal cortex activity is low. They exhibit less concentration and overall a less-inspired performance.
Under stress the process is reversed. Stress floods the prefrontal cortex with dopamine and those with the slow-acting enzyme can’t clear it; their engine is flooded. If they are more vulnerable to stress they will be disadvantaged. People with fast-acting enzymes need stress to perform, they need the extra dopamine to rev up their engine since the dopamine is cleared so quickly. Their ability to concentrate and solve problems actually increases.
Historically, it is the warriors who receive dopamine under stress and are ready for a threat. Worriers have the ability for more complex planning under normal circumstances, but need warriors by their side for times of stress. Since this is genetic, we receive a combination of warrior or worrier genes from our parents. A child may receive worrier or warrior genes from both parents, which explains such a broad continuum or worriers or warriors.
The Introverts Among Us
My mom is the life of the party! She is fascinated by everyone she meets and is truly interested in knowing about their lives. She can become friends with perfect strangers in no time and finds meeting new people energizing. She is among the majority of people that we call “extroverts”. They are energized by interacting with others.
Did you know that “introverts” are energized by their inner world of ideas? Introverts are not necessarily shy people. They may be very outgoing and friendly. They enjoy people and activities almost as much as their extroverted friends. So what is the real difference? Introverts are refueled by being alone. They need quiet time, time to reflect and play with their ideas. When they are with people, they lose energy quickly; it flows out of them. Their more extroverted friends get their energy from people and activities. Without people and activities they feel lethargic and less fulfilled. It takes an introvert a long time to restore the energy they lost at a gathering, so they have to plan time to refuel for the next activity.
There are other ways introverts and extroverts differ. For introverts, fun from outside stimulation can end in a split second. All of a sudden their energy is gone and they are done, sometimes with little warning. When they are done, there is no energy left. Another difference is that introverts like depth in activities, subjects they are interested in, and in their relationships with people. They prefer to know a few people well. Extroverts look forward to meeting a lot of people and don’t need to know them well to call them friends. For extroverts, the variety is energizing.
Introverts are in the minority and often are made to feel that being alone or being exhausted by a lot of stimulation is somehow a character flaw or even a disability. Be assured that your introverted friends and family prefer to relax with a few friends or spend a quiet evening at home reading or thinking. They consider only deep relationships as friendships, talk in depth about topics you have in common, appear calm, like to observe, and don’t like feeling rushed. Respect their quiet time because they are refueling for tomorrow.
Reference: The Introvert Advantage, Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.
It’s for Your Own Good, thoughts by John Holt
I have read all of John Holt’s writings and he has influenced me more than any other educator. This is one of my favorite passages from his book “What do I Do Monday? He addresses the comment that so many people make about forcing children to do something they don’t want to do. I have also found that it rarely works to require a child to do something “for their own good”…
” More times than I can remember, teachers or parents have said to me, of some child, ” He didn’t want to do something, but I made him do it, and he is glad, and if I hadn’t made him he would have never done anything.” The other day a pleasant and probably kindly coach and swimming instructor told me about some child who hadn’t wanted to swim, but he had made him, and the child had learned and now liked it, so why shouldn’t he have the right to compel everyone to swim? There are many answers. The child might have in time learned to swim on his own, and not only had the pleasure of swimming, but the far more important pleasure of having found that pleasure for himself. Or he might have used that time to find some other skills and pleasures, just as good. The real trouble, as I said to the coach is this: I love swimming, and in a school where nothing else was compulsory I might see a case for making swimming so. But for every child in that school there are dozens of adults, each convinced that he has something of vital importance to “give” the child that he would never get for himself, all saying to the child, ” I know better than you do what is good for you.” By the time all those people get through making the child do what they know is good for him, he has no time or energy left. What is worse, he has no sense of being in charge of his life and learning or that he could be in charge, or that he deserves to be in charge or that if he were in charge it would turn out anyway other than badly. In short, he has no sense of his identity or place. He is only where and what others tell him he is.”