9 Strategies to help kids focus better, reach their goals, and develop more confidence (Part 1 of 3)

kidsconcentratingWe are in the information and technology age.  Many people have predicted that our children would have significant advantages in achievement and life-skill development based on the rapid advancements in technology.  There are different statistical and testing companies, as well as political and governing bodies that would argue that kids are growing up to be smarter and more effective, self-actualized citizens today than they were 50 years ago.  Others would use similar data to argue that there have been no significant improvements in the benefits of  education and helping children develop to be more successful than previous generations.  Still, others would argue that the average effectiveness of developmental education is declining, despite the rapid advancement in technology and information.

Regardless of the data and expert voices we tune in to, part of the problem has been, that while technology and information continue to increase at a staggering pace, our ability and our children’s abilities to utilize technology and information in a way that enhances positive growth is becoming more and more of a significant challenge.  More technology and more information does not necessarily equal better education and better success for children developing into adults.  In fact, too much information and technology can hinder a child’s cognitive growth.

And although children are adapting and learning different skills than previous generations learned due to rapid technology advancements and different integrations of psycho-social development through technology (i.e. social media), kids are made of the same stuff that their parents and grandparents were made from.  Our challenge as their parent, grandparent, teacher and success coach is to help them learn to balance, focus, achieve personal goals and develop properly in an increasingly unbalanced world.  Technology and information is a two-edged sword.  We must continue to help our children learn to integrate technology and information properly, so that they can harness the fruits of success and wisdom to build a successful life.

With that in mind, here are some “evergreen” life skills that will help parents and teachers to help their children develop with confidence, so they can face the world’s challenges and create success at every stage of life, regardless of how their life is inundated with technology and information.  With more technology and information at their disposal than ever before, children need to develop discerning skills, wisdom and discipline now more than ever.

Strategy # 1- The Power of a Written Plan:

The written plan is the #1 difference between high achievers and mediocre achievers.  According to Tim Scholten, success coach, focus coach and author of The Focus5 Advantage, a written goal is 3x more likely to be achieved than a non-written goal.   This success principle is not rocket science, but is a simple, learned skill that is more of a success discipline.  Simply writing the goal down improves the chances of success by up to 3 times!  When this habit is developed in youth, it is much more likely to carry over into adulthood for a more successful adult life.  These days, more and more people, including youth, are integrating smartphones and other hand-held or smart devices into their daily routines and social lives.  People, including kids, are becoming more and more adept at using apps, games, and other technology from their mobile devices for the purpose of entertainment, social sharing and learning, task tracking, and other life management technologies.  There is no shortage of mobile and smart applications that people are using and developing with the goal of using technology to better manage our lives.  Using mobile or portable technology, such as the Focus5 app, will integrate your written plan and goals into an accessible, efficient technology so you can have your written plan and modify your goals and tasks wherever you go (convenience factor).  Applications like the Focus5 App also have other success principles structured into their interface, such as the ability to have private accountability partners, getting constructive feedback, behavior cycle tracking and insightful reports.  Using a goal achievement and focus app like Focus5 can help adults and children alike improve their ability to focus and achieve personal goals while learning to filter out many of life’s distractions that can hinder progress, growth and achievement.  People can also set up coaching relationships within apps like Focus5 so that the coaching, feedback and growth process is much easier to communicate and track in 1 convenient technology.  Apps like this are helping people to incorporate success principles and dynamics and access everything they need to be successful in the palm of their hand.

Strategy # 2 – Tackling Difficult Tasks by Chunking

Chunking is a simple skill that anyone can learn.  Teachers often use the idea of chunking for more than 1 area of learning.  Chunking has been used in education to help kids learn to read, to do math problems, and to learn how to solve complex word and story problems, and much more.

Often, children can get overwhelmed when facing a new task that appears too large, challenging, or complicated.  In fact, adults can get overwhelmed as well when facing a new, seemingly large and complex task or work assignment.

One of the best things parents and teachers can do is to teach kids to chunk their larger tasks into smaller ones.  At first, they may not know how to break a larger task into smaller, manageable pieces.  This is where parental involvement is essential until the child begins to show self-sufficiency and mastery of chunking.  When the child begins to take initiative and apply chunking to new, more complex goals and tasks, they are showing that they understand how to apply chunking to new challenges, and that they believe they can solve larger problems by applying the same skill of chunking.  Kids can be trained to use chunking at an early age to learn to read larger words they do not know.  They can then learn to chunk groups of concepts with more general themes or words to organize the ideas into familiar groups or chunks.  For goal setting and achieving, parents can teach kids how to develop confidence in completing increasingly difficult, challenging or larger tasks by breaking these tasks into smaller, easier pieces called “chunks”.   Music is also learned more easily with chunking.  When a student is learning to play guitar, for instance, they learn chunks of chords.  They can then learn to apply these chunks of chords in different order to create different songs.  Students also learn scales in chunks.  When a larger, more complex musical scale is broken down into smaller chunks, students have a better chance at becoming the best beginner guitar player they can be by experience faster success and less frustration.  By chunking, kids can experience faster success, have more fun and stay motivated longer.

Strategy # 3- The Power of Prioritizing:

Children do not have the skills to prioritize when young.  Most children are focused on their basic feelings and wants.  As they get older, parents can teach children how to prioritize so that they learn how to organize their daily and weekly responsibilities and tasks in order of importance.  Left alone, most kids would choose the snacks, video games, and playing over homework, chores and other higher responsibilities.  Teaching kids how to prioritize will help them reduce stress and be more responsible, effective teenagers and adults.  Stephen Covey’s #3 habit of highly effective teens is “prioritizing”, which often means they have to learn to say “no”.  Often, saying “no” has to be applied to their inner-child that is immature and constantly demanding the easier, less responsible choices.  They have to develop the self-discipline, or as Covey calls it the “private victory” of saying no to their impulsive self so that they can become effective citizens and healthy contributors to their relationships and other groups in their society.  As kids develop prioritizing, they will also reduce their future anxieties and stress levels, leading to a more balanced, effective and healthy lifestyle.  They also have to learn that prioritizing does not mean to be all business and no play.  What it means is to develop the maturity to put first things first so that they can afford to do the other things that they earn and deserve.  They have to learn to develop a balance between work and play, public and private investments.  As kids grow older, they will reach the age where they can also incorporate the use of mobile apps and other developing technologies to help them prioritize and stay on task in an ever-increasingly distracting world.

About the author: Aaron Schulman is a professional internet publisher, writer, marketing consultant, husband and father of 3 girls.  One of the most important goals for Aaron and his wife is to help their girls develop into responsible, successful, loving and caring adults that will contribute to society in a positive way while living a life of service to the benefit of others.  In his spare time, he likes to golf, play with his kids, cook with his wife, write music and write guitar reviews.

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