I recently read Mind in the Making: The 7 essential life skills every child needs by Ellen Galinsky. I was reading an article online that mentioned this book. After hearing a little about it, I decided that it was a book that I should read. I love learning and understanding more of how our little munchkins’ brains work. This book discusses 7 skills that everyone needs to develop and how to help your child develop these skills.
The 7 skills are:
1. Focus and self control
2. Perspective taking
4. Making connections
5. Critical thinking
6. Taking on challenges
7. Self-directed, engaged learning
With each skill that Galinsky explains, she gives a list of about 10 ways you can promote that skill in your child. What I like about her suggestions is that they are all doable. None of them requires you to have a special degree, do lots of prep work, or buy supplies. Really, she just helps you see that things you are doing in your everyday life can guide your munchkin through these skills. Today I am going share with you 14 of her suggestions that I loved and plan on doing with my own little munchkin.
14 ways to help your child rock life
1. Encourage your children to have “lemonade stands”
Galinsky talks about “lemonade stands” in her book. What she means by those is to encourage your child’s interests, things your child really cares about. When her kids were little they really wanted to have a lemonade stand. They were so excited to put everything together and sell some lemonade. By encouraging and promoting what your child really care about (lemonade stands), you are helping your child learn to focus on task and complete it.
2. Make sure both your child and yourself are well rested and take breaks
We all know that when we are lacking sleep and are stressed we are way more irritable and unpleasant to be around. It is way more difficult to have focus and self-control when you are lacking sleep. It’s important to remember that both of you (you and your munchkin) are getting enough sleep and are taking breaks. When this happens we are better able to think through things and have a clearer mind.
3. Help your child to feel understood
There are a few ways that you can help your child to feel understood. Galinsky gives 5 suggestions: 1) Imitate what your infant is doing 2) Repeat back your child’s words 3) Describe what you see going on 4) Ask questions 5) Let them know that you’ve been there.
4. Make your child aware of the effects of their behavior on others
To understand others’ perspectives we need to understand the effect we are having on them. I love this video that talks about forced apologies and ways that we can teach our children about their behavior towards others.
5. Narrate your child’s experiences
Really, all this means is that you are talking to your child. Start talking to them as soon as they are born. One thing that I would do with my son when he was born was telling him what was going to happen that day. I would also tell him what I was doing as I was changing his diaper, getting him dressed, bathing him, playing, etc. This is something that I started when he was a newborn and I still do it with him today (he’s now 2). Doing simple things like this help to build your child’s communication skills and it really is an easy thing for you to do. The hard part is just getting in the habit of doing it.
Galinsky states, “It’s your attitude and approach, not quantity that matter.” I agree completely with that statement. It is important to read with your children no matter how old they are. Be an example for them and let them see you read. For some ideas on how to make story time exciting check this post. For a look at some of my favorite books check out Usborne Books & More.
7. Give children opportunities for exploration and pretend play
One of my favorite professors in college had the saying, “Be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.” I have always tried to follow this advice with my son and my preschoolers. Teaching is not about you. It’s about helping the child and following their lead. When you allow your child to explore and pretend, you are following their lead. They learn that they are important and valued and you are able to teach them in a way that will actually be productive for them.
8. Help children see things in different ways
This means switching things up and doing something new with something known. This is where your own creativity can really shine through. And to make it easier get your munchkin involved. Ask them for ideas or play off of their interests.
9. Promote your child’s curiosity
My munchkin, Spencer, LOVES being outside. He is so curious about the world and everything in it. Just today as we were outside blowing bubbles he found a bug that he decided to become friends with. It was cute as he sat there talking to it and trying to give it some food (grass and sticks). Because I know that he loves to be outside and has better focus there, we take him out frequently to see new things in nature. When you promote your child’s curiosity you can create wonderful memories as a whole family.
10. Be an “expert”
Don’t fret! This doesn’t mean that you need to be all knowing. What Galinsky is meaning by this that you provide accurate and valid information to your child. If you can’t do this, be honest with them and together seek out the information.
11. Don’t shield your child from everyday stresses
I know as a parent it is hard to see your child face difficult things. It hurts to watch them be rejected by others or fail at something. When this happens we want to jump in and protect them. We want to fix the problem for them. But by doing that we are not allowing our child to grow and learn. They aren’t learning how to deal with stress that is going to happen to us all. My advice here, is to wait before you jump in. Give your child some time to figure it out. If they come to you wanting help or you see that they really do need your help, then step in and walk them through what to do.
12. Cultivate a growth mindset
In the book Galinsky says, “We can help change our children’s views of their capacities from being something they’re born with to something that they can cultivate and improve.” I really like this idea. Too often children and adults give up on something because they just can’t do it, they don’t have the skills, and they just weren’t born to do that. This can be frustrating when you believe that you have to be born with a talent or gift and if you aren’t then you will never be good at it. Instead let’s instill in our kids that they can improve and grow in everything. You don’t have to be perfect at anything just always try to grow.
13. Involve children
I see so many adults that think that children can’t or shouldn’t do something because they are “just kids”. ERRGGHHHH! That is one of my biggest pet peeves. Children are people too. They want and need to feel important and valued. Involve your children emotionally, socially, and intellectually. Allow them to have hands on experiences. Provide and include them in meaningful and purposeful experiences. You will be surprised of the things that your child is capable of.
14. Create a community of learners
Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate. It is something that everyone should be doing every day. Show your kids that you are learning new things too. There is always something for us to learn. Be an example by showing your kids that learning new things is valuable and that it is important. They will believe you more when the whole family takes time to learn new things.
*This is not a sponsored post.