Encouraging Eye Contact in the Age of “Text Neck”

 

Technology has led to many welcome advancements in our society, but it has also had some rather unintended impacts on overall health and well-being. One of those impacts is the development of “text neck.”

The term “text neck” was created by a U.S. chiropractor and is used to describe repeated stress injury and pain in the neck as a result of excessive watching or texting on handheld devices over a sustained period of time.

Unfortunately, this is a condition that is seeing constant growth throughout the world and is something that may be impacting our children.

Kids & Cell Phones

We may joke that a child’s phone is an extra appendage on his or her body, but there are some numbers that can back this up:

  • The average age a child receives a cell phone is 12.1 years old.
  • 56% of children ages 8 to 12 have a cell phone.
  • 21% of children 8 or younger use smartphones.
  • 60% of families who provide a cell phone to their child did this between the ages of 10 and 11.

Parents and experts alike have become increasingly concerned by the amount of time their children are spending on smartphones, but they aren’t alone – teens themselves are concerned about their phone usage, too.

A study from the Pew Research Center found that 60% of teens (between ages 13 and 17) reported that spending too much time online was a problem their age group faced, as nine in 10 teens went on to dub it a “major” problem. Some 54% of the teens felt that they spent too much time on their cellphones, and 41% said they overdid it on social media.

Common Sense Media found that teens are spending nearly nine hours a day on average using media like online video or music, while the average was six hours a day for those ages 8 to 12.

Ways to Combat “Text Neck”

Knowing that this condition could lead to a less comfortable and even painful future for your child, it is important to also know how to combat “text neck.”

One of the easiest ways to help prevent the future discomfort that may come with this continued neck strain is to limit your child’s screen time. Going over some ergonomic techniques can also prove beneficial. These can include holding the phone up higher at eye level and resting a tablet on a thigh or table.

It is also smart to set timers to remind yourself and your children to switch positions when reading or watching something on the phone.

Eye Contact in a “Text Neck” World

In a world where eyes are commonly averted down to a smartphone or tablet, eye contact can go a long way for a child.

Here are a few ways you can help your child improve eye contact:

  1. Use role play to model bad behavior to your child.Have him or her say hello to you, but respond by looking off to the side and not making eye contact.
  2. Have them look between the eyebrows.Some children may find eye contact uncomfortable and awkward regardless, which is when you can suggest they look at the person right between the eyebrows instead. It can appear to be eye contact and not make shy children uncomfortable.
  3. Go over scripts.If a child is uncomfortable with talking to or meeting new people, having a script in the back of his or her mind may help. You can go over common greetings and small talk topics with your child. Don’t forget to have your child memorize this routine: look the person in the eye, smile, say hi and use the person’s name.

Drama Kids International is proud to offer a curriculum that is specially tailored to helping children break out of their shells and become more comfortable in a variety of different social situations.  For more information and to enroll your child in a local Drama Kids class, please visit us at www.dramakids.com

Getting Your Child Back Into the Swing of a New School Year

 

Attention, parents, this is not a drill—back-to-school season is here!

Emotions can run high at home with school starting back up for the year, but thankfully there are plenty of tips you can put into practice to help smooth over the process and help the entire family handle back-to-school season like champs.

The Emotions of Going Back to School

Going back to school after having a couple months off can be an especially difficult transition for our kids, and with that change may come some back-to-school blues.

It’s not uncommon for children to have anxiety regarding the return to school—here are some ways you can help them ease that anxiety:

  • Set up some play dates with a few of their familiar peers before the start of school. It has been found that the presence of a familiar friend during the school transition can help improve academic and emotional adjustment.
  • Start going back to school-year routines a week or two before school to help prepare them for the transition. This includes bedtimes and picking out an outfit for the next day.
  • Understand their worries about the “newness” of it all. The new school routine may seem overwhelming for a child and that feeling should not be brushed off.

You can also work with your child to set some goals for the school year. Start by having him or her pick out three goals, including academic, social and family goals. These can be revisited by the end of the school year and could yield exciting results for your child.

Tips to Ease the Back-to-School Stress

Once the shopping is done, you can use the following tips to help ease your child back into “school mode.”

  1. Convene a family meeting.In this meeting, go over the school-year routines and see how you can aid your child in getting back to the “new” normal.
  2. Create a visual schedule.Having something to look at can help your child become independent and know exactly what is expected of him or her.
  3. Establish an activity-free day.New routines and schedules can be a challenge for everyone at home, which is why an activity-free day is an especially good idea. There is nothing better than having the ability to relax and do nothing as a family for a day.
  4. Sign your child up for afterschool activities.From sports to drama programs like ours, the boost of confidence provided by afterschool programs is something too good to pass up!

We hope the upcoming back-to-school season hasn’t proven too stressful for your family. Remember, if you are looking for a fun program for your child that will allow him or her to develop strong public speaking, communication, and creative thinking skills, Drama Kids International is the place to go!

Why Failing Sometimes Actually Benefits Children

 

Failure. It’s a word we all fear and strive to avoid, and yet, it’s one that perhaps we should embrace a bit more.

Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, failure is defined as an “omission of occurrence or performance” or more specifically, “a failing to perform a duty or expected action.” Failure doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, though, since it is through failing that we often discover what our strengths truly are. Our children are no different.

Stopping the Fear of Failure

As a parent, we want nothing more than to see our children be successful in their lives and will often go out of our way to make sure things go as smoothly as possible for them. Despite our best intentions, protecting our children from failure may do more harm than good.

Failure isn’t something to be feared and does not mean the absence of success.  Instead – it is an experience to be had on the way to success. In fact, failure can have many benefits for our kids.

Here are some of the benefits of failure:

  • Develops persistence in the face of difficulties
  • Helps us overcome fear
  • Helps inspire creative ideas and solutions
  • Aids in keeping us humble
  • Helps provide coping skills

Another benefit of failure is the lessons it can provide for our children. These lessons can include:

  • Not everyone will win or get a trophy.
  • There are different talents possessed by all.
  • You need to handle losing or difficult situations with class.
  • You have to be able to learn from past mistakes.
  • We learn from sharing valuable experiences with others.
  • Failure creates perseverance.
  • It’s good to have a sense of humor about errors and missteps.
  • Success inevitably includes some amount of failure.

Without making mistakes and failing at some tasks, our children are missing out on these valuable lessons – lessons that can help them become successful in life now and further down the road.

Helping Your Child Learn to Fail

Helping your child learn to fail is probably a concept that goes against much of the natural parenting “DNA,” but it is very important.

An inability to handle failure is something that can prove highly detrimental to your child’s life and coping skills, so here are some ways you can help teach him or her to accept and bounce back from failure:

  1. Show empathy toward your child’s frustration and disappointment.
  2. Be a model of how to bounce back after failing.
  3. Always make it a teachable moment.
  4. Make sure your child knows that what he or she sees on social media is not always an accurate picture of life.
  5. Take a step back and let your child work through failure on his or her own.

Instead of seeing failure as an always negative thing, it’s time we recognize it for what it is – a wonderful teaching moment and the giver of beneficial experiences for life.

Drama Kids International is here to help support your children through both failures and successes and will always be a safe place for them to explore their creative sides.   For more information about Drama Kids classes and camps, visit us at www.dramakids.com

Identifying the Hidden Strengths in Your Child

 

We know that our children are strong, but could there be some hidden strengths lying in wait, just hoping to be uncovered? The answer is most likely yes!

Fortunately, there are many ways we as parents can help our children discover and identify those hidden strengths.

The Importance of Strengths

Many people think of strength in physical, mental and emotional terms, but it is much more than this. Strengths are those inner qualities that can help us feel most alive—this means that they can be used to help us lead our best lives and make meaningful contributions to life.

Remember, strengths differ from interests, as interests can change over time. A strength does not disappear as we go through life, but instead usually becomes stronger.  Strengths can help your child overcome challenges, but challenges can also influence some specific strengths, such as perseverance, empathy, courage and assertiveness.

Identifying Strengths

There are three questions you should ask yourself when helping your child identify a true strength:

  1. Does my child enjoy doing it?
  2. Is my child good at it?
  3. Does my child choose to do it?

If the answer is yes to all three, a true strength has been found. For younger children this may be a bit more difficult to figure out, so you can look for tip-offs like when your child becomes so caught up in something that he or she loses track of what is going on all around.

Here are some additional tips for helping discover your child’s strengths:

  • Make use of play and imagination, as it can reveal preferences and how your child views him or herself.
  • Help find what makes him or her unique. For example, showing-off may mean that your child has a strength for entertaining.
  • Start a strengths journal, noting the things that bring joy, hold attention, garner reactions and behavior patterns.
  • Establish family traditions to help your child discover relationship strengths.
  • Listen to him or her, you’d be surprised what can be revealed through simple yes and no questions or asking “why do you think that?”
  • Forget expectations and don’t feel the need to evaluate everything.
  • Don’t compare your child to older siblings. Differing personalities equals different strengths, and siblings can be polar opposites.
  • Present your child with as many choices as possible when appropriate.

Helping your child discover those hidden strengths isn’t something that has to be taxing or stressful, instead it can be a process that occurs naturally with very little “poking and prodding.”

There are many hidden strengths that can be uncovered in your child through the Drama Kids International drama programs. Why not locate the franchise nearest you and let your child become part of the Drama Kids family?

What Technology Can’t Teach Our Kids

What Technology Can’t Teach Our Kids

 

Technology is practically a part of every facet of life these days—we use it to wake up, get the news, drive our cars, browse online, and even cook. For our children, technology is also commonplace.

From “smart classrooms” to the latest video game console, technology is perhaps even more intertwined in their lives than it is ours. Despite the overabundance of technology, there are still many things our children cannot learn from a computer or smartphone.

Raising Kids in a Digital Era

With technology practically everywhere, it’s important to know how and when to limit technology’s presence in your child’s life.

There’s no one right way to find a balance for your child’s technology usage—it is something that requires observation and time.

Do you know how to spot the signs of unhealthy tech usage in a child? Some of those signs can include:

  • Complaining of being bored or unhappy when they don’t have access to technology
  • Tantrum or resistance to screen time limits
  • Screen time that interferes with sleep, school and face-to-face communication

If these signs are being displayed by your child, it is probably time to create some healthier technology boundaries.

What Technology Can’t Teach

Despite the many benefits of technology, there are some drawbacks to too much technology in a child’s life.

Some of those drawbacks include:

  • Disturbed sleep patterns and insomnia
  • Slower development in social and life skills
  • Decrease in physical health, including weight gain
  • Damage to the development of key relationships
  • Problems with self-confidence/anxiety issues

It is the many social and emotional interactions that children need to learn that technology cannot teach. These include how to interact with their peers and adults, understanding their own emotional health, and things like confidence.

Coping skills aren’t being taught through technology, nor are the aspects of healthy expectations of one’s self. This is why human interaction, including lessons from parents and outside sources, are still a vital part of a child’s upbringing.  It is through face-to-face interaction that children learn important skills, such as communicating, being aware of others’ feelings and knowing how to relate to those with different opinions.

Many life skills still must be learned the “old-fashioned way,” through human interaction and practice. Drama Kids International is proud to provide drama programs that get children away from the screens and focused on interacting with those around them.  For more information about Drama Kids summer camps and school year programs, visit your local Drama Kids website by clicking here, and select the “Class Schedule” option at the top of the page.

15 Ideas for the Next Time You Hear “I’m Bored”

 

“I’m bored.”

Every parent’s nightmare phrase, right? Don’t worry, we’ve got some great ideas that can keep those words from exiting your child’s mouth quite so frequently!

Battling Boredom

When you hear your kids mention being bored, take a moment to have them think about the following things:

  • Have you been creative?
  • Have you played outside?
  • Have you read a book?
  • Have you exercised for 20 minutes?
  • Have you done something helpful?

An easy way to remember these is through the acronym BORED: been creative, outside play, read a book, exercised, done something helpful.

After your kids have thought about these aspects, they may just find that they’re not bored after all or could find something new to occupy their time.

If the feeling of boredom persists, there are plenty of ways you can help your children combat their feelings of boredom.

Here are 15 ideas that can help eliminate boredom at home for your kids while inspiring physical activity or creativity:

  1. Go on a family bike ride.
  2. Have them help wash the car or help with some other “grownup” chores.
  3. Have a dance party.
  4. Make an obstacle course in the backyard.
  5. Write a story.
  6. Put on a play.
  7. Create a gratitude or vision board.
  8. Put together a time capsule.
  9. Bake tasty treats.
  10. Create some snack art.
  11. Draw chalk murals outside.
  12. Go on a scavenger hunt.
  13. Try a YouTube art challenge.
  14. Collect and paint rocks.
  15. Write a letter to a grandparent.

When Boredom Is a Good Thing

Remember, boredom isn’t always a negative thing for kids and can actually help them in many ways.

Being bored helps children:

  • Develop their sense of identity
  • Foster creativity
  • Discover life passions
  • Learn time management
  • Get more physical activity
  • Form peer relationships
  • Develop problem-solving skills

Boredom can help children become more content, as a life that is too full of excitement can become exhausting and lead to the need for more and more stimuli. Boredom can also serve as a motivator for our children, inspiring them to think outside of the box to come up with ideas to bust the “boring.”

A bored child can be a less than ideal situation for any parent, but don’t forget to look at both sides of the coin. If boredom remains a common theme, consider enrolling your child in one of Drama Kids International’s exciting and educational drama programs!

How Focusing on *Your* Self-Esteem Will Help Your Child

 

We all know how important having high self-esteem is for our children and have even taken an in-depth look at how to help them build up those self-esteem and confidence levels.

But did you realize that one of the most important ways to help your child build up his or her self-esteem is by taking the time to be sure your self-esteem is at a high level? Yes—your self-esteem level can directly impact your child’s.

Boosting Your Self-Esteem

Until you’ve rectified your own self-esteem deficiencies, it’s rather unrealistic to think that you’ll be able to help your children with theirs.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can work to improve your self-esteem.

First, you should stop the habit of avoidance. Have you ever found yourself putting something off because of fears or anxieties related to not being successful? This is a form of avoidance that can be toxic to your self-esteem.

Avoidance of some things can become a form of self-protection, but ultimately, is harming your confidence and self-esteem. Instead of coping with a perhaps difficult situation, avoidance provides a way to put off or not do something altogether.

Learn to cope with changes. Life is change, and if you’re unable or unwilling to cope with those changes, it could hurt your self-esteem. We’re constantly encouraging our children to adapt to change and expect changes to occur through life, but if you’re not practicing what you preach, it’s unlikely to help your child.

Here are a few more steps you can take to improve your self-esteem:

  1. Identify troubling conditions or situations that can impact your self-esteem.
  2. Become more aware of thoughts and beliefs.
  3. Challenge negative or inaccurate ways of thinking.
  4. Adjust your thoughts and beliefs by replacing negative/inaccurate thoughts with more constructive thoughts.

You can also positively impact your self-esteem by remembering to take care of yourself. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, eat healthier foods and take some time to do things you enjoy. Lastly, be sure you’re spending quality time with those who make you happy.

Drama Kids International is proud to provide children with the opportunity for continued self-esteem building through fun and educational drama classes. Contact the Drama Kids location nearest you to learn more about our drama programs.

How Parents Can Help Children With Bullying Issues

Bullying is something that is unfortunately present in all areas of life, especially for our children.

Thankfully, efforts made at home, school and through afterschool programs, such as those that Drama Kids International offers, can help children learn how to overcome bullying.

The Impact Parents Have in Bullying Situations

recent study by the University of Maryland’s College of Education found that parental involvement can lessen the effects of bullying on middle schoolers.  This study found that middle school students who felt their parents were more involved in their education had fewer mental health struggles, which included fewer suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Having open lines of communication can make quite a difference—this includes communication between educators and parents, as well as parents and their children.

Helping Your Child Overcome Bullying

Before we can help prevent bullying, it is important to know the three defining characteristics of bullying:

  • Deliberate. It is their intention to hurt someone.
  • Repeated. This behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated.
  • Power imbalance. Bullies choose victims who are perceived as vulnerable.

Knowing that bullying can take many forms, including physical, verbal, relational and cyberbullying, you can then begin watching for signs of being bullied in your children. Keep in mind that many children are hesitant to tell adults about bullying for various reasons:

  • They are ashamed.
  • They are afraid of retaliation.
  • They think nothing can be done/no one can help.
  • They think “telling” isn’t cool.

Teaching your children appropriate ways to respond to bullying is extremely important.

You can help them improve their social skills and learn the importance of their words. When children can stick up for themselves verbally and be assertive, it can drastically improve the situation. These commanding words and sentences include things like:

  • “I want a turn now.”
  • “I don’t like this.”
  • “No.”
  • “Stop.”
  • “Cut it out.”

Other ways to help your child can be modeling positivity, instilling a healthy self-esteem, emphasizing friendship skills, and teaching them positive self-talk and how to learn from mistakes. You can also role-play various bullying scenarios so your child will be ready and prepared to handle them if it were to happen.

Drama Kids International is proud to offer ACT UP! to Stop Bullying, a series of anti-bullying workshops that is designed with 3rd through 5th grade students in mind. If you are interested in learning more about this drama program and how it can be brought to your school, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Healthy Habits Children Need to Develop

Leading a healthy life consists of many different facets, including those related to our physical, mental and emotional health. As adults, we know what needs to be done to take care of ourselves, but for healthy habits to truly stick, it is best to begin encouraging them from an early age.

Healthy Habits for Kids

There are many healthy habits that children can benefit from starting at a young age.

  1. Embrace colorful eating.Not only does a colorful meal look great, it can also have many health benefits! Teaching children to“eat the rainbow”, candy not included, can help set them up to enjoy colorful fruits and vegetables. Having a colorful diet can also help keep food from becoming standard and routine, with each meal being different and vibrant.
  2. Don’t skip out on breakfast.We’ve long heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and for good reason—it truly is. A healthy breakfast can help supply energy, build strength and keep diseases at bay. Harvard Medical School has also found that skipping breakfast correlates with four times the likelihood of obesity.
  3. Drink plenty of water.Water gives us life, and not getting enough in can be detrimental. Instead of allowing an overabundance of sugary drinks to be consumed, encourage an appreciation and enjoyment of drinking water in your home.
  4. Emphasize quality sleep.Children need plenty of sleep, there’s just no way around it. Sleep helps the body recover, refuel and energize for growth. For children ages 3 to 5, the recommended amount is 11 to 13 hours. Children ages 5 to 10 need 10 to 11 hours, and children ages 10 to 17 need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night.
  5. Teach how to read food labels.Part of eating healthier means understanding just what exactly is in food. You can take some time to point out various nutritional facts of foods on labels when shopping with your children, highlighting areas to watch for such as calories, sugars and fats.
  6. Stay positive.Have you ever considered positivity a habit? You should! Teaching children to be positive can help them learn resilience and encourage the development of healthy self-esteem and positive mindsets.

The development of healthy habits starts at home for children, but there is always the opportunity for those habits to be reinforced through curricular and extracurricular activities. Drama Kids International is proud to have the opportunity to help further instill healthy habits in children.

Drama Kids blog March 15 2019

Getting Into the “Spring” of Things With Your Kids

Drama Kids blog March 15 2019

Springtime is always a welcome season—Mother Nature puts on a lovely display and there’s just a sense of “newness” that seems to come along with it.

There are plenty of ways you can get into the spring of things creatively with your family, from crafts to various activities!

Springtime Activities for Kids

If you live in an area where winter has been harsh, spring can provide the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors without having to bundle up head to toe. In areas that don’t suffer from frigid winters, there are still plenty of opportunities to embrace the changes that come with the season.

It may seem simple, but one way to enjoy time outside with your kids can be by blowing bubbles or even having bubble parties. You can mix up your own bubbles with six cups of distilled water, one cup of dish soap, and one tablespoon of glycerin or ¼ cup of corn syrup.

There will be some new birds coming around as the season changes, and you can help your child create a cozy birdhouse for new feathered friends. Birdhouses can be built with repurposed items, like mailboxes, milk cartons or even old shoes!

If you’re looking to help your child embrace his or her imagination, you could always construct some upcycled fairy wings that can easily be worn while running around outside. If fairies are not in your child’s wheelhouse, you could switch up the design to be butterfly or other bug wings—perhaps even bird wings.

Another way to embrace the great outdoors with your child is to organize an exciting nature scavenger hunt. This scavenger hunt could take place in your yard, or be a larger scale activity that takes your family on a journey to the park.

The opportunities for exciting and educational activities are endless in the spring, and no matter what ideas you come up with, it’s sure to be an excellent source of quality family time!

With spring knocking on our door, that means it’s also time to begin thinking about the summer camp programs your child will be involved with. If you’re looking for a fun and exciting way to stimulate your child’s creativity and help him or her build life skills, consider contacting the Drama Kids International location nearest you to learn more about the summer drama camps that will be held this year!