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Train Your Brain - Blog 3 of 3

Train Your Brain

So…in Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog we learned that believing in your own effectiveness (= self-efficacy), having optimistic expectations, and the experience of positive emotions are some of the factors that contribute to our wellbeing and happiness, and also cause us to be more successful.

You may wonder how we can train our brain and that of our children to do just that.

Here are some suggestions. It’s still another 4 weeks before the 2nd STAAR testing round, so plenty of opportunity to try out some of these tips & tricks.

Feel free to be creative and add your own!

Tips & Tricks

1. We can train our brain to be optimistic by focusing on things that go well.

For example: if your child is struggling with his schoolwork (e.g. math in general), you can shift the attention to what is already going well (multiplication tables 1-12). You can use this approach on anything, not just related to schoolwork.

Tip: take a couple of minutes every night before bedtime and ask your child about 3 things that went well that day, something that he/ she feels satisfied or proud about. Make sure to ask what in particular your child did to contribute to this positive outcome (self-efficacy).

2. Providing positive feedback on a deeper level empowers us, it fosters self-efficacy.

Tip: instead of giving your child positive feedback on overt behaviors (e.g. studying all night), try to give positive feedback on character strengths (e.g. perseverance).

3. Gratitude is one of the most common positive emotions identified by Barbara Fredrickson. People who practice gratitude consistently report physical, psychological and social benefits.

Tip: ask your child to write down 3 things he/ she is grateful for every day. It doesn’t have to be big. You can be grateful for a sunny day, a nice encounter with a stranger, a refreshing drink or ice-cream…

4. I read about this study in which they asked children to think of a positive memory before doing a math test. These children performed significantly better than the children who didn’t think of a positive memory.

Tip: Let you child select a positive memory. Anything that induces positive emotions: a vacation, a day at the park, a school trip, a birthday party, a funny memory of their pet… Encourage him/ her to imagine being in that moment again; to see, hear and feel as if being there.

5. Positive emotions of joy, amusement and gratefulness can be found in little things, like preparing your child’s favorite food. You could also take some time to sit together and flip through the photo album of your favorite vacation, sing a song, or listen to music, allow some extra playtime with friends rather then cramming in another practice test.

Tip: ask your child for advice on how you can support him to feel joyful, amused, or grateful.

6. There are a lot of funny video’s posted on the internet, produced by students and/ or teachers, meant to lighten up, relax, or have some fun before taking the STAAR test. It encourages children and parents to step out of their negative thought pattern and take on a different perspective on the STAAR. It induces the positive emotion of amusement.

I personally liked this video. Can you imagine how your child would respond if it were his/ her teachers singing in this video?

Tip: search the internet for video’s that you and your child(ren) like and that might activate positive emotions.

You might even like the thought of producing your own video! Don’t forget to have lots of fun while doing it! And feel free to share anything you created!

Thanks for taking the time to read these 3 blogs. I hope it was useful.

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