Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Correction With Love

I started taking Bikram Yoga classes (hot yoga) about a month ago to rehabilitate a running injury. Last week, the instructor saw great "potential" in me. Translation: He corrected my movements 13 times in one class - by name. "Trish make sure you ..."

I know because I counted.

Supposedly, I was on the verge of some big breakthrough, and this guy wanted to see me realize success. Instead, I couldn't do anything right. By the end of the class, even my "dead body pose" didn't meet his expectations. When you can't manage to lie down and look, well, dead, that's just sad. I suppose the instructor's intentions were honorable, to help me achieve the next level of yoga competency, but his need to fix every nuance of each pose in one session had the opposite affect.

This unfortunate experience reminded me of when I've watched adults get a little too overzealous in correcting kids, both parents and teachers. On rare occasions, I've been guilty of trying to make too many corrections at once, too.

When we do activities with our kids, from games to homework to chores, what can we do to encourage improvement while keeping everybody happy and confident?

  1. Keep comments as positive and encouraging as possible.
  2. Before making a correction, give a specific, sincere compliment about something the child has done well. "Hey, look at that. You remembered your capital letter at the beginning of the sentence."
  3. Ask unemotional questions: Did you remember to ...? What do you think comes next? What do you think would happen if ... ? "Now what do you need to complete this sentence?" Answer: a period - or whatever ending punctuation is required
  4. If a child has made several mistakes on something, choose one or two things to focus on, and leave the rest for another time. Example: Your child brings a note to you, a reminder that there is a birthday party after school on a given day. There are no capitals or periods, words are misspelled, and the handwriting is barely legible. -Compliment your child on writing the note to help you remember the event. -Pick one concept to bring attention to and ignore the rest.
"Oh my gosh. I would have forgotten all about that party. Thanks for writing me a note. Oops. What did you forget to do at the beginning and end of this sentence?" -to put a capital and period. "Great. Can you add those things and then put the note on the bulletin board (or on the refrigerator - wherever you put reminders in your family)?"

The most potent learning happens when kids feel competent and supported ... adults too, Mr. Yoga instructor. :-)

What kinds of things do you do with your child that generates confidence and good results?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Just Say NO to Hiccups!

At our family Easter bash today, a kindergartner came down with a serious case of hiccups. To this little boy's amazement and joy, we got rid of them instantly. Over the years, I've done the spoon-in-glass technique with literally hundreds of kids (and adults, too) with 100% success.

To nix the hiccups:
  1. Fill a glass of water.
  2. Put a spoon in the glass, head down, with the handle poking out.
  3. Lean the tip of the spoon against the hicupper's forehead before suggesting to drink as much of the water as possible. (Actually it doesn't matter how much water gets swallowed, but it sounds good.)
  4. Viola! The hiccups are gone.
Skeptical? Hiccups are caused by spasms in the diaphragm. The idea behind scaring or offering water to a person with hiccups is to distract them, so the diaphragm can relax. These things seldom work, or they take several tries, because hiccup victims can think past swallowing and loud noises. The spoon puts the focus on the gentle poke in the forehead, so the diaphragm can get back to normal.

If you're in a place where you don't have easy access to a glass or metal spoon, have no fear. It may take an extra try, but paper cups and plastic spoons work, too (For some reason, it doesn't work as quickly with a fork. Go figure).

Margaret Gordon, my friend Jeanne's mom, gave me this spoon-in-the-glass hiccup remedy when I was in third grade, some thirty years ago, and it hasn't failed yet!