That’s How You Learn to Err

When my eldest son began to ride a bike, I used the “patent” my father used to teach me how to ride: inserting a broom stick between the rear luggage seat and the bicycle’ body, in order to balance the rider. I was not the only parent who risked his back, huffed and puffed – and hurt his child’s learning experience. When I sensed that the boy reached balance, I pulled out the broom stick and prayed he wouldn’t crash.

When his four years’ younger sister wanted to start riding, I got a tip from a professional riding instructor I met in the park. “Take off the pedals, lower the seat, and let her push the bicycle using her legs”, he said. “When she’ll feel safe, she’ll lift her legs and glide”. “On the plain, there is no danger. That’s the fastest and safest way to learn to ride a bicycle at an early age”, he assured me. So I let go of my doubts and my need of control and followed his instructions.

And so it was. Ten to fifteen minutes after I removed the pedals, I watched my daughter balance herself with a clear-cut pleasure, as she glided with her legs up in the air.

When this happened, I reconnected the pedals and raised the chair according to her height.

Control – It’s not what you think

At first I refused to believe how simple and ingenious his tip was. My child’s riding duration was far beyond my wildest dreams, without falling at all, and I didn’t suffer from back pain and unnecessary guilt feelings. From that day on, every time I see a parent that tries to balance a child on a bike with a broom stick, I stop and try to explain that there is a better, more efficient way to help him learn to ride a bike.

Does it help? Usually not. Most parents shrug their shoulders, continue to hold the bar and run after their children. Only a few dare to try. Some claim that this is how they feel more in control. They are in control indeed, but the greater their control, the more diminishes their son’s control of his learning process.

In learning, experience and play are the name of the game. As Piaget and many other developmental psychologists have already determined, experience and play are the most effective modes of learning and development for children. It is no wonder, therefore, that when we do not allow the child to make mistakes, we also do not allow him to experiment.

The brain needs errors

Brain-learning is a process of trial and error. The experience builds connections between neurons in the brain. When the brain realizes that it has made a mistake, it thinks about another possibility, consequently expands its capabilities. No mistakes, therefore, equals no learning.

Cycling can be dangerous, and it is natural that parents are anxious. But when the child controls his speed, and has the ability to stop (and control) his actions, he also dares more. In the process, his mind learns to balance itself while riding. Young children’s brain is flexible and can learn quickly, if we just let them try, fail and try again, without giving up safety of course.

The child tries – encourage him, the child succeeds – praise him

In order for the child to truly learn from his mistakes, we – parents, teachers and the instructors – need to change our attitude to his mistake and the terminology we use. The first step is to use words of encouragement for each attempt and praise for his achievement.

Since children are very sensitive to authenticity, it is important to distinguish between the meaning of encouragement and the meaning of praise, so that we use them more accurately and effectively. Rick Lavoie (an administrator of residential programs for children with special needs in the US) explains this best:

 Praise is a response to success and is negated by failure. Judicial value is inherent to Praise.

Encouragement, on the other hand, is a positive recognition of the child’s efforts and progress. Encouragement is not judgmental and does not depend on success.

Remember: a child is supposed to earn a praise; encouragement is a gift. Be measured in praises and heap encouragements!

Words that make the difference

Even when the child is wrong, it’s important how we mark it. If we’ll declare, “That’s not true,” we’ll empty his willingness to try again. If, on the other hand, we will analyze with him the way that led him to make the mistake, he will be given the tools to think better the next time.

I talked about cycling, but the moral is relevant to all aspects of life. Think how quickly we tend to intervene and “fix” the way our children act in simple things, even if they are safe, thereby deny them the possibility to learn and develop. Let them make mistakes. They’ll thank us.

How to Make Healthy Habits Stick for Busy Professional Women

“Already, I’m off my diet, skipped exercise class, snacked on chips, and picked up dinner at a fast food restaurant,” she groaned.

How can the best intentions, the stoutest resolutions, and the firmest convictions fall so quickly by the wayside? Are we simply weak and self-sabotaging?

Why is it so hard to form healthy habits especially when we know as busy professional women that a successful health plan depends on adopting healthy habits and good intentions.

Is there anything we can do to make the healthy changes and develop the healthy habits we so desire?

Yes!

By understanding what a habit is and how it forms.

What is a habit?

A habit is something that you do often or regularly.

What you may not know is how these habits form in the brain.

How are habits formed?

In 2012, Charles Duhigg published The Power of Habit. In it, he explores the neuroscience behind why we do what we do.

What Neuroscientists have discovered is:

· Our habit-making behaviors trace to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia.

· Our decision-making process traces to the prefrontal cortex.

Two separate parts of the brain.

The basal ganglia, near the center of your skull, are where emotions, memories, and pattern recognition develop. From an evolutionary perspective, it is one of the oldest parts of our brain.

The prefrontal cortex, the area right behind your forehead, is where thought originates. From an evolutionary perspective, it is one of the newest parts of our brain.

Neurologically what happens is that most behavior originates in the prefrontal cortex as thought. Then, as a behavior becomes a habit, it moves into the basal ganglia where it is automated.

Now that you know what’s happening in the brain, it’s time to introduce you to the ‘habit loop.’

Introducing the habit loop.

The habit loop is a neurological loop that governs any habit. It consists of three components:

· Cue

· Routine

· Reward

Understanding these components is what helps busy professional women change unhealthy habits into healthy ones.

Let’s examine each part of the habit loop:

1. Cue.

There’s a cue or trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold. It is the stimulus or experience that starts the habit loop.

Example from The Power of Habit: There’s a woman who can’t stop biting her nails even though it causes her much pain and embarrassment. When asked by a therapist when or why she starts biting she describes a tingling sensation in her fingertips. This sensation is the cue.

The first step in changing a habit is to become aware of the cue.

2. Routine.

This is the behavior itself that we think of as the habit.

Example from The Power of Habit: When the woman who bites her nails gets bored and feels a tingling in her fingertips her old behavior was to start rubbing her fingertips feeling for bumps or edges. When she found one, she would chew on it and then, on autopilot, proceed to chew every nail on her hand until her nails were completely smooth or completely removed.

The second step in changing a habit is to reprogram the unhealthy habit to do something that is healthier.

When the woman felt the tingling sensation come on (cue), she replaced nail-biting with rubbing her fingers on her arm or table.

This simple change from biting her nails to rubbing her fingertips on another surface was all it took to create a new neural pathway in her brain.

3. Reward

This is something that your brain likes that helps it remember and encode the new habit loop in the future.

Example from The Power of Habit: After a week of not biting her nails, she rewarded herself with a manicure.

The third step in changing a habit is to reward your new healthy habit.

“It seems ridiculously simple, but once you’re aware of how your habit works, once you recognize the cues and rewards, you’re halfway to changing it. It seems like it should be more complex. The truth is the brain can be reprogrammed. You just have to be deliberate about it.” According to behavioral modification researcher Dr. Nathan Azrin.

Still, a nagging question remains, why do people return to their unhealthy habits?

It’s because of the basal ganglia. It stores memories. Therefore, the neural pathways don’t get erased. They remain.

That’s why you hear people say, “Whoops, I forgot and slipped back into my old habits.”

5 Tips for Success

The best way for busy professional women to change an unhealthy habit is to replace it with a new one. That way your brain creates new neural pathways allowing you to use those habits.

Here are five success factors that will help your new habits stick.

1. If you want to make healthy habits stick, you have to love your habits. And you do that by first loving yourself.

2. When you decide to change a habit, make sure you choose your daily thoughts and activities from a place of love, not self-criticism.

It’s so easy to get down on yourself for slipping back into neurological pathways that are unhealthy. Remember, change is a process. Take it one step at a time. Nurture yourself along the way, and healthy habits will soon be automatic.

3. Keep focused on the positive results you want.

Changing a habit requires replacing the old routine with a new one. Sometimes this feels awkward because there are uncomfortable steps to take when choosing new actions that develop into habits that serve you better. Stay focused.

4. You will experience a delightful sensation when you reward yourself each time you make a healthy choice. This is how your neurology learns to encode a new pattern for the future.

This rush of joy will entice you to choose the health habits again and again. And you’ll start to see healthy results.

5. When you love your habits, your new habits will bring your desired results. Your desired results will, therefore, come from your place of love.

Audrey Hepburn said it best: “The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.”

When it comes to making healthy habits stick, it takes more than stout resolutions and firm convictions. To create a new habit that leads to a successful health plan, you’ll need to know how habits form in the brain. You need to know about the habit loop. Read about how it works, what causes us to slip back into unhealthy habits, and discover five tips for success.

When I’m Beside Myself, I’m in Bad Company

In the beginning of the week the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage said, “On Thursday the girls and I will be going to St. Augustine for the day to visit thrift shops.” It was spring break and so the girls did not have school. It was the perfect opportunity for an outing for them.

“Do you think,” she asked, “you’ll be able to handle the day without me?”

I laughed, but not too hard, and said, “I think so. Just go and have a wonderful time in St. Augustine.”

That was Monday and when Thursday came, I was drinking my morning coffee and my wife came in and said, “Well, it’s time for us to go. Are you sure you’ll be able to take care of yourself today?”

I looked at her and said, “Where are you going?”

“Don’t you remember what I told you Monday?”

Actually, I really did not remember what she told me Monday. She tells me so much that it is very hard to remember everything.

“Don’t you remember I said the girls and I will be spending the day in St. Augustine?”

I had been working so hard all week trying to catch up, I forgot about this Thursday trip.

I walked her to the door and kissed her goodbye. She turned and looked at me and said, “You’re not smiling are you?”

Then she said, “I have your lunch prepared with instructions. Follow those instructions to the letter.”

It is not often I have a free day all to myself. I do not need too many of them but occasionally it is good to have a free day where all you have to deal with is yourself. Of course, that can get a little tiring when I am dealing with myself.

I went to my office, sat down and started to catch up on some work I had gotten behind on. It’s terrible when you get behind on your work and it takes twice as long to try to catch up. I often wonder if you ever really do catch up?

I was working so hard that I as I glanced at my watch I noticed it was noon. I love lunchtime. My wife makes such wonderful meals for lunch.

I arrived at the house, got out of my truck and walked through the front door and as I did I said, “Honey, I’m home. What’s for lunch?”

As I walked through the door, I got a strange sense. Usually there is a wonderful aroma of lunch. This time, there was no aroma whatsoever.

It then dawned on me. The wife is away for the day and I am in charge of lunch.

That can be a good thing or it can be a very bad thing. One good thing was, my wife had prepared my lunch, all I had to do was put it in the little micro oven and it would be finished. It was pizza for the day.

She had written instructions. She said, “Use the third button and set it for 15 minutes.” Usually, she is quite precise in what she says. This time I was confused.

On the micro oven, there were four buttons. Now, when she said use the third button, was it the third button from the top or the third button from the bottom?

At the time I was tempted to text her and get a clarification on this instruction. However, I knew if I did that I would never hear the end of it for the rest of my life. She put the instructions there and I was supposed to interpret those instructions.

That is what it means to be a husband these days. Your wife tells you something and you have to interpret it and most of the time we husbands get it wrong. I know I do.

I did what any sane husband would do under the circumstances. I got a quarter out and did the “heads or tails” movement. Heads it was from the top down, tails it was from the bottom up. It turned out to be heads, which was the right way to go unbeknownst to me.

I did not quite know how to read that little button and so I turned it all the way and then put my pizza in to warm it up.

Only a few moments later I began to smell an aroma. It was not the aroma of pizza being warmed up, but rather the aroma of something on fire.

I ran to the kitchen and to the oven and there my pizza was sizzling and burning. I opened the door, pulled the pizza out and looked at it for a few moments. As much as I can remember, this is not the kind of pizza the wife does. What do I do with this burnt pizza?

When the wife came home later that afternoon, she asked me how the pizza was. I assured her that it was rather delicious.

“Why then,” she said rather sternly, “is there burnt pizza in the garbage?”

My little slip reminded me of what Solomon said. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

How Women Can Develop Emotional Intelligence

How Women Can Develop Emotional Intelligence

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Rosina S KhanDiamond Quality AuthorDiamond Author |   292 Articles

Joined: December 26, 2014 Bangladesh

Expert Author Rosina S Khan

At home or work front, women have to confront situations where being emotionally intelligent pays off. How do you actually achieve emotional intelligence? Read on for insights.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. By practice

You are initially imperfect about being emotionally intelligent. But you can practice it by taking enough breaths and focusing on them. Then you don’t find the necessity to get angry or cry. This is very important at the work front. You might even get a raise or promotion for exhibiting this quality properly.

  1. By keeping yourself cool no matter what

No matter what the situation is or how much chaos it contains, if you train yourself to be cool and think rationally and accordingly take actions, you can actually downsize the problem and discomfort of the situation.

  1. By taking tips from your Man

Men don’t usually cry but they do lose their temper at times. You can learn their secrets by asking them how they remain emotionally strong in the face of an overwhelming situation. Take tips from them and act on them.

  1. By following an idol

You have met a person whom you idolize greatly. You like his strength of character and personality. Try to understand how he keeps these qualities at bay and follow him. You need not follow everything about him but learning to be emotionally intelligent by following your idol is worth a dime.

  1. By reading books on self-help that emphasize emotional intelligence

You can get lots of ideas on emotional intelligence by reading a wide variety of self-help books that emphasize on it. Look for bestsellers on Amazon on the topic and invest in yourself. You can also attend summits, webinars and master classes on them and gather full-fledged ideas and insights and apply them to your daily life for best results.

  1. By surfing the web

As always, the web is a vast resource of the stuff you are looking for. Give a few search options on Google to see what you would find. Try several appropriate keywords for good outputs and you are likely to stumble on your topic of interest. You will probably find useful articles or blog posts. Go through them and enjoy reading them but do not forget to put the tips to practical use.Summing up, these are six good approaches to your journey on learning how to be emotionally intelligent for your highest good and also that of your loved ones.