5 Tips to Help You Calm Anxiety

Feeling like we are in control of something helps us feel safe, helps us make sense of the confusing world around us, and make it predictable. It calms anxiety.

There are times, however, that roughly confront us with the fact that we actually have very little control over “bigger things” that happen to us – such as the outbreak of coronavirus disease. We all react differently to this confrontation. Some suppress their strong feelings trying to act as if nothing is happening, some are panicking, and many people are overwhelmed with anxiety.

Though we cannot predict the duration of the outcome of this crisis, what we can do is to refocus on the behaviors and processes in our control, with the effects that we can predict and measure. This will, as a result, lower the anxiety these uncertain times carry.

Daria, our Coach and Nobel facilitator, provides you with ways to manage overwhelming emotions in the following video and the text below.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help – book a FREE call with Daria here.

5 Self-Empowerment Tips to Help You Calm Anxiety

Here are 5 tips on what you can do that will empower you and help you shift your focus to things you CAN do in these times.

1. Physical health and Breathing strategies

Even though we are on lockdown, it doesn’t mean we should be sitting in front of the TV all the time. It’s not good for our health. So here are some tips to help with maintaining your physical health:

  • Try to sleep for at least 7 hours.
  • Eat healthy and avoid eating out of boredom.
  • Control your coffee intake. If you drink more than 4 cups per day, consider cutting it back.
  • Exercise as much as you can. Although it may be not safe to go for a run in a park you can be creative with exercising. For example, cleaning your windows and vacuuming can be very good cardio exercises!
  • Meditate.

Focus on your breath. There is a Navy SEALs technique 4-2-4 (inhale, hold, exhale). Play the ocean sounds or the wind sounds and try to sync the breath with. Plus, try to make every exhale a second longer than the previous and extend the pauses in between inhales and exhales. Notice the moment in between exhale and every new inhale. Celebrate that!

Focus on having at least 5 minutes per day only to focus on your breathing and practice calming yourself down by using this technique every time you get emotional.

2. Observing the feelings

Be mindful of how you feel. Understand it. Be kind to yourself. It is normal to feel anxious, afraid, angry, sad, surprised, and overwhelmed. It’s ok not to know what to do.

We all have the capacity to face difficult events and carry on. Understanding and properly naming your emotions is a first step towards developing emotional resilience, the capacity to develop strategies that help you manage when facing situations you find stressful and recover from them.

Here is an example of how to do it. Start your own Mindfulness meditation & Journaling.

Start from the curious stance: What emotions or thoughts do I have here? When do they show up? What do they look like? Do they have any triggers that I notice? Write all those things down. Connect them with events in your life. See if there are any patterns.

3. Stay connected

Physical distancing means that now more than ever we need to have extra emotional support. Maintaining social networks can foster a sense of normality and provide valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress.

You can maintain these connections by texting or chatting with people on social media. Use this opportunity to reconnect with your loved once and help them. We are all in the same situation.

Woman sitting on a couch and holding a phone

Physical distancing and social connecting

 

4. Be informed, but not too informed

You may find it useful to develop more analytical approaches as you follow news reports. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Try to verify the information that you receive from your family and friends.
  • Limit your daily exposure to reports relating to counts – how many newly infected, or death in which country.
  • Do not consume the news the first thing in the morning and right before sleep.
  • Limit the conversations with family and friends that are COVID-19-related.

Remind yourself that most people who contract COVID-19 will only experience mild symptoms. What you can do is to make sure to take the necessary precautions to keep your family and loved ones healthy.

5. Focus on what you CAN control

Shift your focus solely on the things you can control, rather than focusing on the things that are out of your scope. Focus on:

  • How you react to this new reality if you follow the physical distancing guidelines?
  • What is your exposure to news and how do you identify the news from unreliable sources?
  • How kind and understanding you are when communicating with others and how kind are you to yourself?
  • How well you take care of yourself?
  • What are your boundaries in social media use?
  • How do you organize your time?

As a bonus creative idea, make a diagram of the things that are under your control. Go back to it every time you get more anxious and check with yourself – Do I have any control over it and if not, remind yourself what are the activities you can actively engage in. This will help you gain more clarity, be calmer and organize your time more productively.

Let us leave you off with one information. We as humans have an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. We can even thrive under adversities. Don’t forget that. You are much more resilient than you think. Put that capacity in good use!

Be safe and stay at home.

 

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with feelings of sadness or anxiety contact Daria or another coach for a FREE consultation.

How to Help Kids Build Self-Confidence

The best way to understand how people benefit from having developed a strong sense of self-confidence is to imagine the struggles of someone who hasn’t. You probably know someone who never reached their full potential due to chronic self-doubt.

At the most basic level, self-confidence reduces the fear of failure and being overwhelmed by negative thoughts. It allows children to focus on the task at hand and improve their performance.

Believing that you’re capable of doing something can also be a good motivator. Children with higher levels of self-confidence will be more likely to persevere in the face of frustration. If they’re less likely to quit, they’re more likely to develop their skills and gain valuable experience.

Another way children benefit from being self-confident is improvement in their social status. Even as adults, we view confident behavior as something positive and admirable. It’s also one of the key characteristics that we associate with leaders.

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Nobel Explorers’ projects are a place where children can build healthy self-confidence through teamwork and overcome modern STEM challenges.

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Four Tips to Help Your Kids Build Self-Confidence

1. Praise Them Appropriately and Properly

If you believe in your child’s capabilities, they’ll learn to do so as well. Praise is just one way, but also very effective in communicating these feelings. A couple of things you should keep in mind, though.

As a parent, you soon learn that a kind word of praise brings a smile to your child’s face. However, you should never rely on it as a way of cheering them up when they’re down. Kids aren’t impressed by false praise and can usually spot it pretty easily. If they can tell your praise is inappropriate, it can hurt their self-confidence and self-esteem. Or worse, they’ll start buying into it and create a false sense of accomplishment and self-confidence that will only burn them in the long run.

Secondly, make sure you direct your praise at their approach and effort, rather than at their result. Getting an A is already a form of positive reinforcement and something they can get from their teacher or their peers. But teaching them the value of putting in the effort is something that will help them throughout their life.

2. Give Them Space to Be Independent

“It is confidence in our bodies, minds, and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures.” – Oprah Winfrey

When trying to encourage independence in children, practice is a must. Still, it’s easy to get carried away with micromanaging every aspect of their chores, school assignments, or even playtime. The main motivation behind these interventions is simple – we’re hard-wired to want the best for our kids. We want them to do the best they can and we feel obligated to step in.

Learning by doing is the optimal way to learn. So if we’re constantly stepping in, we’re denying our children the opportunity to build self-confidence and self-reliance.

The key is being able to set up your child with tasks they can handle themselves with little-to-no guidance. This approach is largely based on Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. It’s about finding the optimal balance between their feeling challenged and not being turned off the task by frustration or stress.

3. Teach Them Realistic Goal-Setting

As we already noted, positive reinforcement that builds self-confidence comes naturally with results. It comes from setting a certain goal and then being able to achieve it. That’s why it’s important that children learn to set goals that are attainable and realistic.

Dealing with unrealistic goals leads to disappointment, frustration, and a distorted image of their capabilities. By teaching them realistic goal-setting, we’re giving them the ability to set themselves up for success.

4. Encourage Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk is a well-known technique for improving performance and it’s used by elite athletes from all fields. It’s proven to be effective through reducing anxiety but also by strengthening self-confidence.

Using positive self-talk to build confidence is indeed a clever technique, but it also has further benefits. It can do wonders for self-esteem and instill a more optimistic approach to life.

You and your child can practice together! This heartwarming clip from 2016 is the perfect example of a parent helping their child build confidence through morning affirmations and positive self-talk.

A Crucial Mistake to Avoid When Helping Children Build Self-Confidence

“Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

We tend to fall into certain traps when we’re trying to help our children become more self-confident. Truth be told, we usually do so with the best of intentions. Still, the end result can be vastly different from the one we’re trying to encourage.

Parental anxiety is a heavy burden but it shouldn’t be eased through helicopter parenting. Overprotective parenting can seriously stunt the emotional development of a child. We’re not talking about reasonable impulses to protect your child from harm and suffering. This is about an overbearing approach that involves removing your kids from situations that cause them even the slightest discomfort. By protecting them from all kinds of frustration, sadness, and disappointment, you’re depriving them of the opportunity to develop resilience. You’re also fostering a sense of dependence, which directly clashes with their ability to build self-confidence.

Although they’re different concepts, resilience and self-confidence complement each other splendidly. Together, they create a perfect foundation for your child’s growth and development. They’ll know how to endure setbacks while being able to keep a clear head when they try again.

If you’d like to learn more about dealing with parental anxiety, you can always schedule a free consultation with one of our Coaches! They’ll share everything you need to know and help you avoid falling into the trap of becoming a helicopter parent.

How to Help Your Kids Cope with Peer Pressure

“Peer pressure is pressure you put on yourself to fit in.” – Jeff Moore

What Is Peer Pressure?

Any type of direct influence that a peer group makes on a person is considered peer pressure. This influence can be established both verbally and through nonverbal communication. It can also be achieved through direct social interaction or digitally through social media, for example. The results of this influence are changes in behavior, values, and/or attitudes a person might make in order to conform and satisfy the expectations of their peers.

We’re all susceptible to peer pressure but children are particularly vulnerable to it. So it makes sense that this is a particularly burning issue for parents. Perhaps it might help if we explored this phenomenon from a little broader perspective.

Our Coaches work with students to help them develop self-confidence, resilience, communication skills, and coping strategies that will allow them to resist peer pressure. You can click here to schedule a free consultation!

Is It Always a Bad Thing?

We’re used to hearing about peer pressure in a negative sense because any kind of pressure is inherently negative. Still, peer influence can be positive in cases where it leads to improvements in behavior or reinforces good attitudes and values. Peers can affect each other positively in two ways – through encouraging or rewarding good forms of behavior:

Example 01
“Let’s organize a study group so we’re better prepared for the math quiz!”

Or by discouraging or punishing bad ones.

Example 02
“Pick up your candy wrapper! You shouldn’t litter, it’s bad for the environment.”

Peer pressure or influence can also be much more complex and can sometimes produce both positive and negative effects. Let’s say for instance your child wants to take up soccer because a couple of their friends are already on the team. Knowing about all the benefits that sports have for children and their development, you decide to support their decision. But youth athletes face a whole spectrum of unique challenges. So even though joining the school soccer team brings some positives, there’s also a chance it might have negative effects on other things. Such as if they start falling behind on their homework or feel more stressed due to their schedule filling up.

Bottom line is that peer influence is a normal aspect of social dynamics and it’s not inherently good or bad. Now that we have a better idea of what we should be looking out for, let’s consider what we can do to help kids become more resilient to negative forms of peer pressure.

What Makes Children Particularly Vulnerable to Peer Pressure?

As a parent, you are trying to instill a set of values in your child. You teach them good manners and try to help them develop useful habits. Essentially, what you’re really helping them build and internalize is a moral code – a sense of what they should or shouldn’t do. However, parents are not sole-contributors to a child’s upbringing. Turns out their friends and peers get a say as well!

Children, much like adults, want to fit in and be approved of by their peers. They’re scared of being rejected, isolated, and made fun of. What they don’t have are the necessary skills to cope, persevere, and not give in to pressure. This is where you come in.

Four Ways to Help Your Kids Cope with Peer Pressure

Now that we’ve narrowed down what we’re trying to do, let’s explore some of the best practices towards reaching our goal. These are the top four ways to help children become more resilient to peer pressure.

1. Talk to them About Peer Pressure

Teaching them about the concept of peer pressure should help them recognize it and make it easier for them to reject. You can use examples from your own life and not just from your childhood. Letting them know about your adult peer-pressure challenges will give them a new perspective. It will show them it’s not just a “kid” thing and it’s something that you can both relate to.

There’s a good chance your children understand the dynamics even though they don’t know about the concept. For most, conforming to peer pressure leaves you feeling powerless – that there wasn’t anything you could have done. That’s why role-playing can be an effective teaching tool, where you can allow them to practice different ways of taking a stand.

2. Help them Build Confidence

Saying “no” to people and risking disappointing or alienating them is not easy. It takes courage, and that’s usually drawn from being confident and believing in yourself. By helping your children develop self-confidence, you’re providing them with the tools to stand up for what they believe in and resist peer pressure.

You can boost your child’s confidence by using positive reinforcement, but there’s more to that than simply praising them all the time. In fact, if your praise is inappropriate or dishonest, it can actually hurt their self-esteem.

In conclusion, positive reinforcement is important but should come from multiple sources. That’s why you should encourage your children to make decisions and do things by themselves. The goal is for them to learn to understand they can actively affect the world and the people around them. Surrendering to peer pressure is purely reactive.

Peer pressure quote by Bruce Lee

3. Encourage them to Broaden their Network of Friends

The effects of peer pressure are stronger the more you think you have to lose. So let’s say that your child’s social network consists of friends from one single group. Maybe they’re all from the same class or they all learn karate at the same dojo. The amount of peer pressure the child will feel will be much greater because if they’re rejected, a lot is at stake. They’re actually risking having no friends at all.

That’s why you should always keep an open mind if your child wants to try out different things. Get behind their desire to take up dancing, or join the drama club, or even learn a new language! Having friends from different areas of life will make it easier for them to stand their ground.

4. Offer to Be their Lifeline

A lot of the time, children succumb to peer pressure because they don’t feel there’s anything else they can do. Let your child know that they can always count on you if they need a way out. If they’re ever in a situation where they just want to pick up and leave, they should be fully aware that you’ll be there to come and get them. You can also pre-agree on an excuse in case your child is worried about saving face.

Additional Tips on How to Approach the Topic

As you can see, there are lots of things that you can do as a parent. However, in order to really be successful, you need to have the right approach.

Acknowledge and reference your own worries, thoughts, and emotions. Don’t just hide behind such classic lines as, “If Jimmy jumped off a bridge, would you?” Children usually find parenting cliches particularly annoying and even insulting. You don’t want to alienate your kids when you’re actually trying to teach them something.

It’s also safe to say that you should balance your efforts and pick your battles. You shouldn’t be pressing them on everything because there’s only so much they can tolerate. And if you keep focusing on the little things, you’ll be diminishing the significance of the really important ones.

Lastly, try to keep an open mind. Don’t let anxiety cause you to overreact and refrain from making accusations or assumptions drawn from fear. Being able to put yourself in their shoes will give you a better chance of saying things that actually resonate with them. They need to really feel that it’s coming from a good place.

It’s not going to be easy, but you have to try. These types of conversations can be a solid foundation for your future relationship and it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Gratitude Through the Ages: A Thanksgiving Story

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent to all others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Can you remember a moment in your life when you felt really bad because you forgot to say thank you to someone? Or do you remember being really angry with someone because they didn’t seem to show any appreciation for your kind gesture or lending a helping hand?

The negative emotions that arise as a result of both of these situations are not always necessarily intense, but the fact that they are there indicates how much we actually value expressing and receiving gratitude.

“What Do We Say?”

Gratitude is a fundamental aspect of human relationships, something that we inherited. Studies of animals that speak of reciprocal altruism, along with neurological and developmental studies of humans, suggest that gratitude is an inherent characteristic of our human experience.

It’s also moderated by society and we have very clear means of passing it on from generation to generation. It is usually instilled very early, primarily through our parents. You can probably remember a time from your childhood when you were firmly guided to say “thank you” when you received a gift or any other form of generosity. You can also probably recall how upset your parents would get if you forgot to say it.

And it’s not just about having good manners. Research suggests that positive reactions to receiving a benefit are not simple expressions of momentary happiness. Rather, they’re a means to spark the desire to give back to others, the community, and the world. Data from this research also shows that gratitude and social integration go hand in hand. Gratitude helps us fit in and build strong relationships.

Expressing gratitude is just one of the techniques you can use to improve mental health and well-being.
If you would like to learn more, click here to schedule a free talk with one of our coaches!

Aside from conveying the value of being grateful through education and social interaction, we also rely on yearly group activities based on gratitude which strengthen its place in human culture.

Using Customs to Preserve a Culture of Gratitude

For centuries, humans have engaged in festivals based on expressing gratitude. They are popular all over the world and in different cultures, these customs take on different forms. In Germany, they celebrate Erntedankfest. The people of Japan celebrate Kinro Kansha no Hi or the Labor Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving is a monumental part of American culture. It’s a time when we do our best to bring out the good in ourselves and others. There’s a reason why Thanksgiving has remained such an important event in our society. Most likely, it’s because it resonates with something very deep and meaningful to all of us. The message goes far beyond its pilgrim origins and it help us remember the importance of appreciating what we have.

Gratitude quote by Dalai Lama

A Modern Day Thanksgiving: Taking the Good with the Bad

Today’s Thanksgiving is a rich blend of various traditions centered around a very simple idea – sharing a delicious feast with friends and family combined with the ritual of taking turns in talking about what we’re grateful for. And sometimes, that simple practice is all it takes to bring out the best in us. It’s not the parade, it’s not the football, it’s not the pardoning of the turkey. They’re all good fun but it’s the expression of gratitude that can give you that honest, warm and fuzzy feeling.

The spirit of Thanksgiving is a wonderful thing but getting into it isn’t easy for everyone. Some consider that planning a big dinner is too stressful, while others simply aren’t huge fans of family gatherings. Lots of us have a pretty hard time during the holidays and are dealing with issues like loneliness, anxiety, depression… It’s not easy to feel thankful or give thanks when you’re feeling down.

In the end, it might be just too much to ask from a holiday. This celebration of gratitude comes only once a year, but all the stuff that makes it hard to embrace the holiday spirit can happen any day of the year.

A Thanksgiving Gratitude Experiment from Nobel

This year, why not experiment with being grateful throughout the day? Way before you start stressing out on whether or not you have enough seating in the house or whether everyone will be able to make it. Hours before you start doubting your cranberry sauce or worry if you’re going to end up stuck in traffic. Before and in between these challenges, make time to actively show appreciation for the little things.

Being grateful takes effort. If you’re lacking inspiration just think about the folks who are working on Thanksgiving, helping everyone else enjoy their holiday to the fullest. Hey, wait a minute! You might be one of those people! If you are – please know that you’re awesome!

And think about all the people who might have contributed to your Thanksgiving dinner without expecting anything in return. People you’ve never met. Think about the sweet old lady from Wisconsin who was kind enough to share her family recipe with the world and helped you knock this year’s stuffing out of the park!

Thanksgiving is a reminder to take a step back and shift our attention to the things that mean the most to us. If we get caught up by small, irrelevant issues that distract us from the bigger picture it makes it no different than any other day of the year. Instead, we invite you to do the exact opposite and take a piece of that Thanksgiving Day spirit into the next day… And the day after that one… And the one after that…

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

Happy Thanksgiving from the Nobel Family!

Ten Mistakes Sports Parents Make when Raising Young Athletes

Being a parent of an aspiring young athlete is a very peculiar situation. Your child is going through similar phases to the rest of the kids, but they’re also facing a whole different set of challenges on a day-to-day basis. If you’ve never played sports professionally, you’re probably lacking insight into unique situations, experiences, and issues. Sports parents who were pro athletes themselves are better informed, but even they are liable to make mistakes just like any other parent would.

Why Do Sports Parents Make Mistakes?

Whether you’re dealing with the burden of knowing or with the fear of not knowing, being a sports parent is not an easy role. There are lots of different sports out there and plenty of reasons why your child’s situation is unique.

Yet, sports parents often tend to err in similar ways and some patterns can be spotted. Normally, as parents, we have the best of intentions at heart. But we’re also dealing with things like inexperience, lack of information, biases, fears, and all kinds of factors that impair our judgment.

All of this can potentially lead to our inadvertently doing more harm to our child’s potential career than good. These are the ten most common mistakes sports parents make trying to raise a talented young athlete.

1. Pressuring Your Child Athlete to Succeed

Some sports parents are supporters of the “pressure makes diamonds” school of thought and tend to draw from it when deciding on parenting techniques. It’s an attitude somewhat based on the notion that mental toughness is a crucial characteristic of top-level athletes. While this is true, parental pressure is far from a good way of teaching your child athlete how to be mentally tough.

One study in 2006 showed that young athletes who are feeling pressure from both their coaches and their parents are more likely to develop maladaptive forms of achievement striving, to experience overconcern for mistakes, have doubts about their decisions and actions, and lowered perception of their own competence.

Another cause of parental pressure is parents believing their child might slack off or show lack of discipline if they don’t step in and tighten the screws. Parental involvement in itself is very useful for child development but you need to be careful.

If it’s too much or not the right kind of involvement, it can become a source of frustration, pressure, and stress for the child and you will inevitably be caught in the middle of it. There are much safer, more effective ways of motivating your child than simply giving them heat every chance you get.

2. Not Teaching Young Athletes There’s an Alternative

Actually becoming a professional athlete is extremely difficult. The stats presented in the table below are sourced from the NCAA database and show, on average, the chances of high school athletes making it to the pros.

As you can see, the competition is very high and the data tell a harsh story – only a small minority of young athletes ever actually makes a professional career in sports.

 

Why sports parents teach young athletes there is an alternative

 

Your child’s chances are determined by a range of factors and neither you nor your child will have complete control over some of them. Even if your child has all the essential characteristics such as technical skills, soft skills, talent, resilience, or a good work ethic, circumstances such as chronic or traumatic injury may abruptly end their career.

Some take these numbers as a sign that only those who are truly committed to the cause will prosper. But what about those who went all in and still didn’t make the cut? They’ll surely be devastated that their dreams didn’t come true. What happens when what they’re best at just isn’t good enough?

Giving up on your dream career is difficult for everyone, let alone young people who have their whole lives ahead of them. Having an alternative will go a long way to keep them from spiraling down and something they’ll be grateful for later in life. It’s your job as a parent to make sure they’re keeping their options open.

Sports-related activities are a great context for developing important management and teamwork skills that they can use at any job. You need to point out these opportunities, because that way, they’re boosting their athletic career while gaining something to rely on in the future.

Our coach, Tiana, is a sports psychologist experienced in working with sports parents and an expert on the topics of motivating child athletes, making them more confident, and teaching them how to build mental toughness.

 

3. Failing to Establish a Good Sports Parent-Coach Relationship

The roles of sports parents and coaches have an innately different perspective. The coach has to put the team first, while the parents are usually concerned with the needs and success of their own child.

In order to complement their efforts, both the parents and the coach need to build a good relationship so that they can provide the young athletes with the best possible, coherent support. That means that parents need to make an effort to understand the coach’s vision and consider their way of thinking before taking any action.

Your child will benefit from the fact they’re not getting mixed messages. If parents keep undermining the coaches and vice-versa, the child won’t know what to think and who to listen to.

4. Teaching Your Children the Win-at-All-Cost Mentality

Playing to win is a crucial aspect of sports. Nobody plays to lose and if they did, it wouldn’t be sports. Those who win stand to gain a lot. Personal satisfaction, social recognition, rewards, praise… Winning is valuable, enjoyable – and definitely not the only thing that’s important.

There are many top-level athletes who would disagree with this statement. And while romanticizing the desire to win does have a certain appeal, you don’t have to dig a lot in order to realize that winning isn’t the most important thing. At least not when considered in the context of life.

If your child places winning at the very top of their system of values, it could have a very negative effect on their judgment. It might make them more determined or motivated, but at what price?

Having a “win-at-all-cost” mindset provides a person with the conditions to rationalize unacceptable behavior. Things like poor sportsmanship, not playing by the rules, cheating, doping… They might learn to value winning over being a good teammate or simply doing the right thing. Winning is important, but if you prioritize it in terms of values, you need to consider what you’ll be losing in the trade-off.

5. Getting Too Emotionally Invested (ie. Angry Sports-Parent Syndrome)

You’ve probably heard stories about sports parents behaving inappropriately to the point where they’ve ended up on the local 9 o’clock news. New clips of parents brawling, screaming, and cursing at each other, coaches, referees, and even children, are being uploaded each week. These examples of toxic behavior leave a mark on everyone involved, including the very ones these parents are trying to help – their own children.

It’s understandable that being a bystander in an adrenaline-inducing situation can be difficult but you need to have control over your emotions and keep calm. Sports parents who lose it are usually ridiculed and mocked, but the negative effects this type of behavior can have on a developing child can’t be emphasized enough.

It takes all the fun out of sports and the children are left feeling embarrassed. It sets a bad example on how to deal with losing and not playing well. It is ethically wrong for a whole cluster of reasons. If you find that attending your child’s games, matches, and sporting events is making you angry or over-excited, then please, for your child’s sake as well as your own, consult a sports psychologist.

6. Overlooking the Development of Soft Skills

Technical skill is fundamental to athletic performance. That being said, a career in sports doesn’t happen in a vacuum and athletes need to be able to work with others as well. Even athletes competing in individual sports need to have good people-skills so they can, for example, make the most out of their relationship with the coaching staff. There are also lots of management skills that can be beneficial to an athlete such as time management or judgment and decision-making.

In team sports, teamwork and management skills can be the difference between going pro or not. Those who are exceptionally talented might be able to wiggle their way through to a career even though they’re very poor team players. But in the vast majority of cases, if they’re unable to cooperate and work well within a group, their chances of success will be incredibly slim.

Project-based learning in international teams can be an amazing opportunity for young athletes to effectively develop management and teamwork skills. They can transfer what they’ve learned to their career in sports!

Nobel Explorers teaches children valuable management and teamwork skills through working on STEM-related projects as part of an international team.

Online STEM projects can be a great way for young athletes to effectively develop communication skills, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking in a pressure-free environment.

 

7. Teaching Young Athletes to Fear Failure

In order to learn how to win, you first need to learn how to deal with losing. Each failure, each mistake we make is simply feedback telling us that we need to do better or maybe try something different. By taking the time to analyze what we did wrong, we can gain valuable insights into what we need to do in order to improve.

But before we can do that, we need to be able to handle the frustration of defeat and failure, also referred to as building resilience or mental toughness.

Studies show that athletes who are constantly being criticized for what they’re doing wrong will have a greater chance of developing a fear of failure. This can have a crippling effect on their development because it will make the sensation of playing less fun, reduce their game to the use of the most basic actions, and stunt their creativity.

“The child is so focused on the outcome and fearful of the possibility of failure, that they get frozen and stuck and can’t perform at their best at that moment.”

– Tiana M. (Sports Psychologist/Nobel Coach)

Young athletes need to be able to explore their sport and step outside their comfort zone in order to diversify their skill set and add new dimensions to their game. They need to understand that it’s OK to make mistakes. You as a parent should help them build a mindset where they’re not indifferent to failure, but also not devastated by it.

8. Showering Your Children with False Praise

Praising your children in order to reinforce good behavior is one of the foundations of good parenting. However, you need to make sure your praise is adequate, highlighting the right things, and delivered in alignment with how your child is feeling. You may think of false praise as a way to cheer your child up after a bad game, but there are a couple of reasons why you should never do this.

When your child buys into your false praise, they’ll think that they’ve done well when in fact they haven’t. If these scenarios repeat often, they’ll slowly develop a false sense about their abilities and skills. This means that they’ll be going into every next challenge poorly prepared, more likely to repeat the same mistakes and perpetuating the cycle until they’re faced with an obstacle that can’t be praised away.

Another issue arises if your child is able to see through your false praise. In those cases, praise can actually make them feel worse because they think they don’t deserve it. Aside from that, you’ll come across as if you either don’t really understand what happened or don’t really care about how they’ve played.

9. Neglecting Other Aspects of Parenting

Young athletes will face unique challenges on their road to a professional career in sports but they’ll also have to deal with issues common to any other kid their age. Friendship struggles, school challenges, puberty… It’s easy to get carried away, especially if your child is really invested in a sport and loves what they do.

Your child will need guidance for a life beyond the context of sporting events and the training ground. The issues they’ll face either at school or with friends are not less important than the things happening on the court or field. You’re raising a person first and an athlete second.

10. Disregard for Health and Safety (Both Physical and Mental)

In the culture of “all in” and “leaving your heart on the field”, toughness, hard work, and commitment come first. Unfortunately, this usually means that the health and safety of athletes are being placed somewhere lower down the list. This type of ranking can lead from innocuous situations such as, “It’s just a knock, I’ll walk it off.” to the more dangerous, “So what if it’s swollen? I can still run!”

The fact that they “only have one shot” doesn’t mean they should “risk it all”. The fact that they need to “work hard” doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be “working smart” first.

The importance of health for a sports career is intuitive to us but we don’t always act like it is. Surely we’ve all heard more than enough stories about people from our neighborhood who “could’ve gone pro if their knee hadn’t given out”. Injuries are unpredictable but aside from luck, great results can be achieved through injury-prevention exercises and procedures, along with having the right attitude.

Most sports parents would agree on the importance of being physically healthy, even if they sometimes encourage behaviors that go against that notion. But the topic of mental health is not that well-acknowledged in the world of sports and dealing with those issues carries a huge amount of stigma. Anxiety and depression are portrayed as signs of weakness and can be debilitating for the player’s social rating. The good news is, each year, more players are speaking out about their struggles with maintaining mental health.

“Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing.”

– Kevin Love (Professional Basketball Player)

As a parent, you need to be a health advocate for your children because the athlete mindset will pull them in the opposite direction. Your kids need to understand how their body works, listen to what it’s telling them, and be educated on what it means to be healthy both physically and mentally.

What Can Sports Parents Learn From These Mistakes?

“Parents, listen and look to your child. Hear your child out. What are his or her interests?… One very important role a parent has is to help their child just select and decide what’s important and what’s not important. But… together with them and not for them.”

– Tiana M. (Sports Psychologist/Nobel Coach)

It’s funny how easy it is to get caught up in wanting to help your child any way you can. But good intentions are not a guarantee of the success of your actions. We love our children so much that it sometimes clouds our judgment. But just as our children can learn from their mistakes made on the court or field, we need to be able to learn from our own mistakes to be better parents.

Sports parenting, like all types of parenting, is a partnership. Our parental role burdens us with a greater sense of responsibility but we shouldn’t take on things that are not on us. We’re not helping anyone if we’re overstepping our boundaries and either contributing to our child’s feeling of being pressured, or robbing them of an opportunity to build their character and grow.

Finally, your child’s wishes are one of the most important factors that should be considered when making big decisions about their career in sports. In the end, they’re the ones that will have to live the life you’re helping them build and they should actively partake in the decision-making process as much as possible.

“Your child’s success or lack of success in sports does not indicate what kind of parent you are. But having an athlete who is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient, and tries their best, is a direct reflection of your parenting.”

John A. Casadia (Swimming Coach)

Math Is Difficult, but Far from Impossible

Maryke K. is a  Nobel Tutor. She knows a lot about Chemistry, Physics, English Language, and Statistics, but one of her greatest loves is Math! She makes math fun (yes, it’s possible!) and finds the best way for students to learn it. Here she answers common questions about math and shares her personal experience in learning it.

 

Question: Let’s begin with fun stuff. What is the best math joke you’ve ever heard?

Maryke: What do you get when you cross a mosquito with a mountain climber?

You can’t cross a vector and a scalar… (laugh).

 

Q: Can you tell us how did you end up falling in love with mathematics? How did you become the math tutor?

M: From an early age, math has been fascinating to me. Because of that, I focused on it and worked hard. As I began sharing my knowledge with others, I discovered that mathematics was a path to helping people, and that’s what I love to do! And that’s why I became a tutor.

 

Q: Even though some people, like you, enjoy mathematics, there are others who find it hard. Based on your experience, why do some students fall behind in math?

M: Some people have a natural aptitude for mathematics, but that’s not the reason why others fall behind. I think the reason they do fall behind is they need it explained in a different way and there isn’t always time to do this in a classroom setting.

That’s why math tutoring exists! Not because you don’t have the ability to do math, but because a tutor is usually a few years older than you and they were in your shoes a few years before. So it’s easy to relate and find a great way to explain the unexplainable.

 

Q: Is there anything you’d recommend to those students? How should they study math?

M: If you don’t get math, just like anything else you don’t like, you’re going to have to motivate yourself.

Still, what I used to do is play. When I was younger, up to 6th grade, I would use computer games. I played educational games which meant I had to constantly do math in my head. Because of that, and by really putting thought into it, I made math fun, linking it to games.

So how you should study math? You find the fun in math and keep practicing. If you’re not good at it, practice is the only way to fix that.

 

Q: You’ve already mentioned teachers. Do you think that if you don’t understand math, maybe you have the wrong teacher?

M: It’s not about the teacher all the time, it’s usually about their workload. You can’t put a workload of 40 students on a teacher and expect every one of them is going to be catered to.

I think that everybody should be able to get tutoring. But since not everybody can afford a tutor, perhaps ask a friend who’s good at math to help you with the things you’re having difficulty with. You just need to have the additional help.

I come from a very humble background. I begged my parents to get me tutoring because despite having good grades, I needed even better grades to enroll in this program I wanted to get into. But we couldn’t afford it. The only help I had was reading math books and learning it by myself. That still wasn’t enough. I feel that if I had been in a smaller class, if my teachers could have catered to me specifically, then I would’ve had even better marks.. But it just wasn’t in the cards.

So I worked with a friend who was good at math and we made sure we helped each other. I did that my whole university career – we’d teach each other those concepts that we mightn’t otherwise understand.. We’d just work together and help each other. I feel everybody should do that because there’s always something that you don’t understand. So let the students be the teachers, as well.

 

Q: Some people believe that being good at math is a natural ability. What do you think about that? Can anybody be good at math?

M: I don’t think everybody can be good at math. However, I think everybody can do it. You just need the right way, the fun way to approach it.

There’s always going to be someone who gets 100% no matter what – someone with the natural aptitude. It may seem like you’ll never be as good as that person, but you can do it! You just need to accept that you have to practice a lot more than they do.

So, you can be good, but you have to practice. Practice as much as you can and eventually results will come.

 

Q: Natural talent vs. hard work. Do you think that people who aren’t naturally good at math but practice a lot eventually can become better at it than people who are naturally good but don’t practice?

M: Yes, that was me! I fell behind in my first year of engineering because I was like, This is going to be so easy! And all those people who were a little bit weaker than me in high school, were surpassing me. They were doing so much better than I was!

That’s because at some point math catches up with you. You might think it’s easy now, but there will be a time when you don’t understand anything. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way, so you don’t need to.

 

Q: What is your approach to teaching math?

M: Making it fun. I’m a very outgoing person and I always try to make people think of a fun way to go about something. I use visuals, I use tricks, I use anything that might make something entertaining and interesting!

No matter what your learning challenge is, what your skill is, it has to be fun!

 

Q: How do you choose between being an authority figure and a friend?

M: I think balance is the key. You need to be both an authority figure and a friend. I do believe my students respect me, but I also believe I open this door into letting them talk to me about their personal problems, not just focusing on math.

You need to listen to the challenges they have as that can affect their learning as well. For example, if their dog dies and they just don’t feel like doing math today, take things easier.

Being their teacher doesn’t mean you can’t be their friend. You just need to evaluate when that is appropriate. They’ll learn to trust you, and then they will respect you.

MAKE MATH FUN WITH MARYKE

She can’t wait to meet new friends!

 

Q: Does fun make math easy? Do you find mathematics easy overall?

M: Math is never easy. I have an engineering degree and when I was doing models I failed the math model. Yes, that thing destroyed me (laugh).

Now I’m doing a mathematics degree. I’m in my final year now and I’m realizing that math is always difficult. If you’re in that spot, it’s going to be hard. Right now, final-year math is unbelievably difficult, but first-year math was also unbelievably difficult. Math will always be difficult. It’s up to you to practice and find a way to understand it. So practice, practice, practice.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for parents to help their students with math?

M: Don’t start too late. I wish my parents had started earlier in letting me have fun with mathematics. I did start early, earlier than most people. But if they’d started even earlier, I feel that I would’ve been further ahead right now.

You need to make sure your kids are exposed to this environment. Let them play puzzles, let them play logic games when they’re very young. Because it opens a door for problem-solving skills and so on.

Make it fun and start early. But don’t overdo it. so that they start to hate it. Like anything, if you push your child too much, they’re going to resent it. Make sure you strike a balance between giving them constant stimulation and not overworking them. A great tutor would know how to help in that area, for sure.

 

Q: And if I’m a parent of a student with learning challenges (ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia…), what approach would you recommend for me to help my students with math? What should I do?

M: We all have those times when we’re faced with difficulty that causes anxiety. So did I. I know it’s not the same as ADHD, but it does pose a challenge when it comes to learning. One way to deal with it is to learn how to study despite the difficulty. Wishing it away won’t help, but finding a way to figure things out will.

What I would actually do was enjoy some free time but then dedicate 10 minutes to some math homework. It forced me to think about it, but not overwhelm myself. Of course, if you have a lot of homework you might need to up that to 15, 20 minutes. Some people will go up to 30 minutes or more, but if you constantly push a child they’re just going to completely resist.

If you’re helping your child with math, you need to make sure they’re not overwhelmed and that you are making it, again, fun. They need to have that feeling of I really want to solve these logic puzzles.

Also, I’ve always told my mom she needs to reward my brother, because my brother was a very, lazy boy when it came to math.The way she got him to finish his math was by giving him rewards. He has ADHD, and the reward for finishing was time playing computer games. And he would be so excited! Because that’s what children like to do, including me (laugh).

So,give them rewards, make it fun, and don’t make it too intensive!

 

Q: Why do we need math? Do we really need to know algebra, geometry, integers..? Why does math matters in the real world?

M: The things you’ll use depend on the field in which you’ll work. I don’t think you’ll need all the complex formulae and stuff.

But the basic reason everybody needs math is for logical reasoning. If you know math, you build a certain skill when it comes to reasoning with people, when it comes to logical thinking, solving problems at work in the future… So even though you don’t need quadratic equations, you still need to build these skills to be able to function in life and today’s world.

Long answer short, reasoning in real life and problem-solving skills.

 

Q: What are the uses of math? Are there any benefits to knowing math for a future career? What are applied-mathematics jobs?

M: As I’ve said, reasoning and problem-solving but not just that. For example, you’ll use it if you’re an animator. You’ll need math to put things together in a program and work through possible problems you might encounter when you animate different things. The same would apply to working as a game designer, It doesn’t mean that if you’re not good in math you can’t go into these areas. However, knowing math can be helpful.

Additionally, think about engineering, architecture, law… each requires logical reasoning, (especially law) and a background in mathematics.  Computer science, astronautics, the visual arts (such as painting).

 

Q: What message would you like to leave with our young readers?

M: Mathematics is always useful, so practice it and study it. You’ll use it in any career you choose. You’ll use it in the future just by practicing reasoning and in everyday activities that you need to think about.

However, if you’re not good at math, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to be successful. If math is not going to be your career, you just need to find someone who can help you with logical reasoning so you can have a foundation to build on in your future life.

Math can be very useful and if you can’t figure it out on your own, there are great tutors to help!

IF YOU NEED ADDITIONAL HELP WITH MATHEMATICS OR ANY OTHER SUBJECT, OUR EXPERT TUTORS ARE HERE FOR YOU

 

10 Easy Ways to Be Mindful while Doing Everyday Tasks

Being mindful has many benefits, but it sounds complicated and demanding. Also, some people think that practicing mindfulness requires meditation or yoga, for example. But mindfulness doesn’t have to include much time or yoga mats. What if we say there are plenty of easy ways to practice mindfulness in your everyday life? And by doing so, you can de-stress and do your best. So, no more excuses – let’s start!

1. Drink more water.

Our bodies dehydrate overnight, so start the day with a glass of water at breakfast. Pay attention to how that gulp is going through your body. Also, try not to think about anything else. To stay energetic, don’t forget to drink lots of water all day. It doesn’t sound hard, does it?

2. Make your bed in the morning.

While making a fresh cup of coffee to start your day, make sure to make your bed. Slow down your breathing as you smooth your sheets and tuck in corners. This way, making bed is not a chore, but a mindful practice. Further, you will feel as if you have already completed a task and started your day productively. Starting the day with a habit will help you develop other useful habits. It has also been shown that, since you spend a large portion of your life in your bedroom, the way it looks can severely affect your mood, so making the bed equals better mood and less stress throughout the day!

3. Enjoy your meal.

Avoid multitasking while eating your lunch – take at least 15 minutes to focus completely on enjoying your meal, allowing it to re-energize you. Also, chew your food slowly. While eating, enjoy the texture and the taste. This is shown to boost your mood and register more satisfaction, which further curbs overeating.

4. Organize things.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re at work or home, being in chaos can cause stress and anxiety. Picking things and organizing them is a pretty simple way to reduce that stress. Also, while doing so pay attention to every bit and piece of objects and to each placement of the object. To practice mindfulness while organizing, you are called to turn your attention to what’s happening right now: what you are thinking, what you are feeling, and what your senses are telling you.

5. Stretch whenever you can.

Nowadays, we spend most of our time at the desk, working, studying or just surfing the internet. To say that that amount of sitting is bad for our health would be an understatement. Be aware of your body and take a rest from sitting. Get up for at least a few minutes every hour and walk around your room or office, or use that time to stretch. You will see that it not only helps your body but your mind as well!

6. Turn off your devices.

Mobile phone ringing and beeping every now and then can cause anxiety. Also, we usually constantly check emails and social networks on our devices. It distracts us from our primary activities and people around us. Therefore, every once in a while turn off your devices. This way you’ll be more productive and refresh yourself.

7. Pay attention to your breathing.

Are you nervous before some big date? Take three slow and deep breaths from your belly before entering that room. Even if you’re not nervous, stop thinking about other stuff for a few seconds and just pay attention to your breathing. Try to feel how your stomach and chests move, how fast and deep is your breathing…

8. Walk mindfully.

You don’t have to sit and cross your legs to practice mindfulness. As you walk to the store or to work practice mindfulness. Focus on your breathing and each step you take. This way you’ll clear your mind of clutter, decrease stress, restore your sense of focus, and increases overall well-being.

9. Pause between actions.

Your to-do list is pretty long, right? Also, there are many things that you haven’t included there. But it is good to pause between your actions. Take a moment and be proud that you’ve done something. Let yourself to rest a bit. And don’t think about other stuff that is waiting to be done.

10. Do your routine activities mindfully.

Everything you do can be a way of practicing mindfulness, especially those activities that are not demanding. Try to pay more attention as you’re brushing your teeth before bed, for example. Try to be more aware – activate all of your senses. Maybe you’ll find those activities more interesting than you thought.

Mindfulness can easily be integrated into your daily routine. As we can conclude from above, there are so many tasks that we take for granted, but they are all primed for more mindfulness. However, nothing can be done in one day. Try practicing these tips for a few days and they will become even easier. Try practicing them for a few weeks and they will become habits!

References:

[1] Heaversedge, J., & Halliwell, E. (2012). The mindful manifesto: How doing less and noticing more can help us thrive in a stressed-out world. Hay House, Inc.

Exercises to Help Boost the Dyslexic Mind

Dyslexia is a disability that impairs language learning – spelling, pronunciation, reading, and reading comprehension – despite normal intelligence.

Seeing an otherwise bright kid struggle with something “as simple as a reading task” is likely to take most people aback. The inability to relate to the issues kids with dyslexia face can result in both parents and teachers overlooking the importance of effectively overcoming them.

I tutor middle-schoolers with dyslexia in Language Arts. I found that implementing games as exercises can yield outstanding results. Dissecting the workings of two of my favorites will help you understand core problems and give you the ability to tailor your approach to your child.

Why games?

Throughout my experience, I’ve noticed that kids with dyslexia largely benefit from kinaesthetic ways of learning when it comes to Language Arts. Merely listening or observing isn’t enough to build correlations between letters and sounds. When a multitude of their senses are engaged, words begin to gain meaning.

So, how do games fit into this narrative? First off, games force you to implement a variety of skills (like waiting for your turn, which is connected to executive functions – inhibition) – often without you even noticing. Secondly, although they demand your full attention, they provide fun in return. This means a boost in motivation, making distractions less likely to occur.

The interactive aspect of playing games keeps us from getting bored. We make mistakes, we learn to lose. The feedback we get from other players pushes us to do more. We begin to understand the importance and value of doing our due diligence. Working together, regardless if as a team or as opponents, will form a bond and establish trust between you and your child.

You’ve created an environment where making mistakes is part of the process and help is always around the corner. This is particularly useful when you encounter more complex tasks –  more specifically, school assignments.

Hangman

Hangman is one of my top picks for working with kids who struggle with dyslexia. It incorporates all the crucial benefits of learning through games – focus, patterns, interactivity, and creativity.

In a world of distractions, we struggle with focusing on what truly matters. Facing an abundance of information is intimidating, especially when you’re not yet ready to tackle it. Hangman takes things back to basics. The game focuses on one word alone, meaning all attention is fixed to a single point. It allows the opportunity to build a relationship with words devoid of pressure.

Playing the game, patterns start to appear: the frequency of vowels or how ‘q’ is always followed with by a ‘u’. We begin noticing these patterns outside of play time – in the texts we read or words we spell for the first time. These connections testify that there’s a method to the madness that is spelling. Over time, a database is generated in our heads, enabling us to become skilled at guessing how a word might be spelled – accurately!

Don’t be afraid of not covering enough material. Easing into the idea of spelling takes time, but has a great impact on how we feel about language and language learning. Once we’ve mastered some basic skills, learning becomes quicker – and more efficient. Taking the edge off doesn’t just make the exercise less intimidating, but promises greater results.

Moreover, the game’s interactive aspect allows a varied approach. You can choose to collaborate or compete (you don’t even have to stick to just one or the other!). This way, you begin forming a more dynamic and complex relationship with your child when learning.

Lastly, you can get creative. Incorporate the child’s interests (e.g. basketball) when choosing words or creating your Hangman stick figures. By customizing your Hangman character, the game becomes more fun. With something so basic, possibilities are endless. Give your child the freedom to express themselves.

20 Questions

The concept of this game is very simple: guess the person, place, or thing in 20 questions or less. You probably know this game for its vocabulary-building quality, but what if I told you it can help a child master storytelling?

A good storyteller knows how to engage their audience. They set the scene – providing all the information needed to get their point across. We often don’t realize how much we have to factor in to tell a good story: go into enough detail for the audience to understand, but not overdo it to the point that they’re bored. This is where 20 Questions comes in.

We’ll need to master the game in its original form first. As we play, we’ll start to notice patterns that help us identify the word faster: where we can find this thing, what it’s made out of, in which situation are likely to use it. Certain questions have priority in the more general sense – to set the scene, while details are what helps us pin the word down.

Through this process, we become more aware of the importance of having enough information. Moreover, we begin noticing that adding unnecessary details is just that – unnecessary – it doesn’t do much to contribute to the story, distracting us while we try to identify the word. Now let’s take it to the next level to incorporate the game into storytelling.

Before you begin, help your child map out the events in chronological order. A timeline will make it easier to follow the story. Then guide the child by asking them appropriate questions. I would recommend using wh- questions. Ask WHERE the story took place, details about the scene; WHO was involved, and the background of the characters. Then move on to WHAT actually happened and WHY. Additional questions may be prompted by something they mention or when they get stuck.

With time, you’ll notice the child no longer needs assistance. They have actually memorized the questions themselves and can now determine the necessary information on their own!

Gaming done right!

I hope the examples given inspire you to incorporate games into learning. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm with your child in order to make the games even better! Children love to come up with their own rules – and there is a lot to gain from that. Since the way we learn isn’t universal, small tweaks can make a huge difference in how we interpret and memorize information. Moreover, the experience you gain from this will form a strong bond between you, preparing you for future endeavours.

As Vince Gowmon once said:

Quote

Author: Tutor Olivera

Our English Language Tutor, Olivera, who loves to incorporate games when she works with her students, wrote this article. If you need someone who will make learning fun, teach your child how to write the best essays, or boost their dyslexic mind, just book a FREE Video Call with the Nobel Tutor Olivera to find out if she’s a good fit for your kid.

7 Easy Steps to Stress-Free Holidays

Despite wanting to spend time with family during the holidays, getting together can be difficult to arrange. Everyone has different schedules. Work, school, friends, and many other things seem to get in the way. However, winter break is a great opportunity for togetherness and bonding with family.

Winter break

It’s the end of December and what does that mean? Winter break is finally here!
Some people will say this is the most wonderful time of the year. Winter brings not only snow, but also holiday magic, the joy of giving, and the happiness of sharing these moments with your family and friends. Also, schools are closed, and the kids are at home. Spending time with your child is a little bit easier now, right?  But winter break lasts (only) a few days – from Christmas Eve until January. So we want you to get the most out of it!

Winter holidays

How did you spend Christmas this year? We hope you enjoyed it and made some unforgettable memories. However, New Year’s Eve is fast approaching. If you’re out of ideas on how to celebrate it, read our articles Creative Ideas for How to Spend Holidays With Your Family part 1 and part 2.

Holidays bring stress, too!

How did you feel days (or weeks) before Christmas? Let’s admit it – we all get stressed out making plans for the holidays. We want everything to be perfect – which can mean that although holidays are usually joyful, they also bring a lot of tension. Family obligations and lots of have-to-dos can be overwhelming, so feeling out of control is not unusual.

A sad woman is looking outside through the blinds.If you’ve ever tried to organize dinner for New Year’s Eve, for example, you know it’s not easy! Let’s mention a few things that you’d do:

  • Prepare a favorite dish using your grandma’s recipe
  • Make cookies
  • Choose, buy, and wrap the-best-gift-ever for everyone

And, still, there’s so much more to do! Does this sound familiar?

We should keep in mind that nothing can be perfect. The good thing about that is – it doesn’t have to be! Also, do you really have to do all those things the way you’ve planned ? You don’t!  The key to memorable holidays is simply being together.

New Year’s Eve is coming soon, so don’t make the same mistake again. Here’s a few tips on handling that holiday stress.

Togetherness is the key

Dealing with all this pressure is pretty hard. So we’ve listed seven ideas that are easy to implement and can help you spend memorable and, more importantly, stress-free holidays with your family.

  1. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

    Everything’s easier if you do it together! Those things you “have to do” transform into family activities. Making cookies with your children is sure a big mess, but also so much fun! Probably those cookies won’t be the best you’ve ever eaten, but that’s okay because you made them together!

  2. Don’t worry about how things should be.

    The cookies we mentioned are a great example. Also, keep in mind that most families have less than perfect holidays – the meal didn’t turn out well, the cookies aren’t that pretty, family tension is high, etc. And if you have negative feelings, don’t deny them – there’s nothing unusual or wrong about feeling down at holiday time. Admitting and talking about them will surely help. Just try it.

  3. No devices – really listen to people.

    In today’s digitally-fueled world, it’s pretty hard not to answer calls, reply to text messages, or check what’s new on social media. Screen time often eats into family time. Still, we can’t not check our devices from time to time. How about making a rule that no devices are allowed during mealtime, for example?

  4. Be generous.

    Here’s one more family activity – make gifts for people who are homeless or feeling lonely. If you have toy experts in your house (younger kids) you can let them pick some toys and donate them to Toys for Tots. This will teach your children about sharing and brighten someone’s holidays.

  5. Show gratitude.

    Let everyone know how much you’ve appreciated their gift. Thank people who do things for you but whom you may have taken for granted. Show your family members how much they mean to you and how much you love them. Also, call a relative who lives far away and wish them happy holidays.

  6. Time is not money.

    Actually, it’s more important than money. The time we have to care for one another, especially for our children, is more precious than anything else in the world. This quote says it all:

    If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.

    – Abigail Van Buren

  7. Winter break is a break.

    Notice that you’re being hard on yourself. Even though you want to please your children and make everything the way they love, don’t forget about yourself. Treat everyone with kindness, including you! Take time out. Let yourself to sleep more, watch your favorite movie again, and generally do the things you love.

We at Nobel Coaching & Tutoring wish you Happy Holidays! Health, happiness, and lots of love this Season and success in the New Year!

Resources:

[1] Daly, K. J. (2001). Deconstructing Family Time: From Ideology to Lived Experience. Journal of  Marriage and Family, 63(2), 283-294. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.00283.x

[2] Folbre, N. (2006). Family time: The social organization of care. London: Routledge.

[3] Hofferth, S. L., & Sandberg, J. F. (2001). How American Children Spend Their Time. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(2), 295-308. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.00295.x

The Two Faces Of Perfectionism

In this article, we’ve decided to tackle the topic of good and bad perfectionism. People tend to have very black-and-white views when it comes to this. They think perfectionism is either a great thing that helps us become better, or that it’s a horrible habit which may lead us into depression and anxiety. But as with most things in life, it’s not that simple. There’s the good kind and the bad kind, and we’ll help you learn how to tell them apart and strive for the good one.

Perfectionism As We Know It

Let’s first start with a widely accepted definition of perfectionism. Perfectionism refers to the desire to achieve the highest standards of performance while being extremely critical about one’s performance. [1] Therefore, if you’re a perfectionist, you’ll be setting unrealistically high goals for yourself. Chances are, you’ll also be judging your performance more critically than anyone else, which will lead you to become easily dissatisfied with your actions and achievements.

Man yelling into a phone.

So, in essence, you’re trying to reach something virtually impossible and getting angry at yourself when you make even the slightest mistake. What a paradox!

From this definition, it’s clear that what we usually think of as perfectionism is, in fact, bad for our health and our happiness. Not only are you dissatisfied when you make a mistake (even if you’re the only one who sees it), but even when you are performing well, you’re constantly feeling stressed out. “I can’t make a mistake!” “What if I look silly in front of my co-workers?” “What if I mess this up?”. It’s a lose-lose situation.

What Makes Perfectionism Bad?

So, the bad form of perfectionism stems from a striving that’s turned into a demand. [2] If you keep telling yourself, “I must do this perfectly!”, you’ll be causing yourself a lot of anxiety, maybe even insomnia and depression. Bad perfectionism has as a consequence low self-esteem, unhappiness, and a tendency to react more negatively to feedback. [3]

But if you are only striving for perfection and not demanding it, you’ll be able to work toward accepting yourself with all your flaws much more often. Moreover, you’ll stop seeing each mistake as a failure and accept it for what it is – a normal thing that can happen to anyone and is in no way the end of the world!

Quote that says "if you are only striving for perfection and not demanding it, you’ll be able to work toward accepting yourself with all your flaws much more often. "

The Importance of Self-Acceptance

It may be clear now that the main difference between bad and good perfectionism lies in self-acceptance. [2] You can still have perfectionistic goals, but if you also want to be happier, have better relationships, and be far less stressed out, you’ll also need to develop the ability to accept yourself and your actions non-judgmentally. You can decide to work harder and do better next time, but you won’t be putting yourself down and feeling worthless, and that’s a huge difference.

If you often find yourself feeling like this and it’s bringing you down, there are ways to change this behavior.  Reach out to one of our Coaches and schedule a free 30-minute consultation, which can help you see the possibilities of overcoming the tendency.

Self-Oriented, Other-Oriented, and Socially Prescribed Perfectionism

Another important thing to mention is that perfectionism toward oneself is not the only form of perfectionism. You can also be perfectionistic towards others, which is referred to as Other-Oriented Perfectionism. [2] This can happen to parents, romantic partners, bosses… Instead of placing huge demands on yourself, you may be putting them on others.

Girl sitting at her desk surrounded by books.

Sometimes, parents can, out of the best of intentions, place enormous pressure on their children. “You need to win this game!”, “You have to become valedictorian!”. It can even happen in everyday situations: “You must make a perfect dinner for your husband’s family this Thanksgiving!”

Other-Oriented Perfectionism can result in a child being overly concerned about making a mistake, and always be thinking they’re not good enough, no matter what they do.

Or maybe you were this child. Maybe you had parents or teachers who always expected perfect results, or maybe you have a boss who does the same! This would be the kind of perfectionism called Socially Prescribed Perfectionism. [2] You notice that others have set very high standards for you, and you’re doing your best to prove capable of reaching them, even if it is affecting your health and happiness.

Turning the Bad Into Good

The good news is, you can still strive for more, and encourage your kids to do the same. The formula remains the same: show acceptance, both for yourself and for your children. Give your children time to accept that they’re not perfect before you suggest some things they might think about changing next time. Give them the chance to accept the defeat on their own terms, and help them by hugging them and telling them you are proud of the effort they put into it. Start by letting them know that you accept them – and then maybe take them out for some ice cream. That tends to help as well!

The same thing goes for you. Set realistic goals for yourself and accept that, like every other human being on this planet, you’ll sometimes make mistakes and take more time to reach those goals than you were planning. It doesn’t make you any less good; if anything, it makes you more human.

To Conclude…

… Accepting yourself and others is an essential part of becoming (and raising) healthy, happy, and successful people. Take care of your health and happiness first – and reaching your goals will turn out to be far easier.

References:

  1. Antony, M., Purdon, C., Huta, V., & Swinson, R. (1998). Dimensions of Perfectionism Across the Anxiety Disorders. Behaviour Research and Therapy, Vol. 36, pp. 1143-1154
  2. Lundh, L. (2004). Perfectionism and Acceptance. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, Vol. 22, 4, pp.255-267.
  3. Stoeber, J., & Otto, K. (2006). Positive Conceptions of Perfectionism: Approaches, Evidence, Challenges. Personality and Social Psychology Review, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 295–319