Help your child master new skills with 3 new tips.
My best occupational therapy advice for parents, is to teach your children to be resilient and be resilient yourself in the face of adversity.
Here are THREE of my best suggestions to help develop resiliency in children as they master new skills.
When children learn a new motor skill, you may see that if they repeat it immediately, by the fourth time it starts to get hard or sloppy and the skill starts to look poor in quality again and they may give up.
This is because the feed-forward loop in the brain needs to be "jump-started". After four times, the brain can’t just use the “quick access place” where it stores temporary memory of a motor skill. Children and adults will often try to quit here, when the brain gets stuck using a "quick access place" for temporary memory instead of a more ingrained "feed-forward loop".
Please persist. Help your child transfer that motor memory from a temporary spot in a "quick access place" to a more permanent spot in a "feed forward loop". So by the fifth repetition of a new motor skill it might start to look better ... and by the sixth time it looks even better than that!
Number 1: DO THINGS AT LEAST 5 TIMES! This is a Christel Rule!
Doing things at least 5 times, helps your brain build and store "motor engrams". Motor engrams are your motor repertoire of skills and a mental image of the action and part of that feed forward loop I mentioned above. The more motor engrams your child can develop, the better the skill!
Number 2: Next is a five step rule. So first, a 5 TIME rule and now a 5 STEP rule.
For example, in learning to play tennis, this is the Stop-Goal-Plan-Do-Check checklist
- Stop before your start. That means to stop and think before you even begin to move. Children (and adults) often jump right in. A little moment to stop before you start is helpful.
- What is the goal? Hit the ball over the net overhand with my tennis racquet in my right hand.
- What is the plan? I am going to stand on the left side of the court; my feet are moving so I am ready to run toward the ball.
- Do? My partner serves and I volley back.
- Check? Did I get the ball over the net? Did I hit overhand? Why or why not? What will I do differently next time?
Number 3: Finally, my 3rd suggestion to develop your child’s resiliency is to offer a “just right” challenge.
We want to stretch the brain and body of our children when learning. We don’t want the brain and body to shrink like a rubber band might. But we also don’t want the brain and body to be stretched so much that it snaps like a rubber band would. Figure out how much of a challenge is just enough for your child to be engaged and learning. Fine the balance between too easy and too hard and your child will love learning new motor skills.
Incorporate these 3 tips when interacting with your child, will make a world of difference in helping them become resilient and master new skills.
Do you want even more help so your child masters motor skills? Then download my eBook All About Motor Skills.