There’s Hope! 10 Pieces of Research That Show Your Child’s Brain Function Can Improve

It’s easy to feel hopeless when you’re starting your daughter’s third hour of homework, or your son’s PSAT score is so low that you’re just assuming he’ll live in the basement after graduation.

But your child’s (or teen’s) learning struggles don’t have to be set in stone. In fact, a new study found that even IQ can change—quite significantly! How about 21 points?

If you’re in desperate need of hope that things can change for your child (and your family!), read on. We’ve got 10 pieces of research that are sure to brighten your day in the form of a light at the end of the tunnel.

  1. IQ can change.

    A first of its kind study published in The Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology has found a one-on-one cognitive training program improved cognitive skills and IQ scores by 21 points in students ages 8 to 14. The ThinkRx® training program, created by leading researchers and experts at LearningRx, significantly improved an average IQ and seven cognitive skills: associative memory, working memory, long-term memory, visual, processing, auditory processing, logic and reasoning and processing speed. [Source]

  1. Childhood music lessons improve attention skills. 

    When researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine looked at the brain scans of 232 children (ages 6 to 18), they found that the cortical thickness in the brain of those who played a music instrument matured faster. This area of the brain is associated with motor planning and coordination, visuospatial ability, and emotion and impulse regulation. The more a child trained on an instrument, the faster the cortical organization in attention, anxiety management and emotional control. [Source]

  1. ADHD is rooted in clusters of weak brain skills. 

    A new report explains that learning struggles are rooted in clusters of weak cognitive skills. About 30% of clients were diagnosed with ADHD before enrolling in LearningRx. Most of those students, in addition to weak broad attention skills, had weak long-term memory, processing speed and working memory. But cognitive skills can be targeted with personal brain training, which incorporates immediate feedback, intensity and loading, among other features, to train those weak skills. Over a six-year period, 5,416 children and adults (mean age 12.3) diagnosed with ADHD went through LearningRx programs. The cognitive performance of these clients was measured before and after brain training, and the largest gains were seen in IQ, auditory processing, long-term memory and broad attention. After LearningRx brain training, IQ scores improved by an average of 15 standard points, and broad attention skills improved an average of 24 percentile points. [Source]

  1. Breakfast can change improve brain function. 

    There are countless studies linking poor nutrition to brain fog, attention struggles, low grades and slow processing speed. While eating healthy foods—like salmon, sardines, walnuts and blueberries—is great for your brain, so is the mere act of eating breakfast. Eating breakfast has been shown to boost academics by improving memory and neural efficiency. Adding a school breakfast program has been shown to increase standardized test scores. Research has found that breakfast eaters do better on specific cognitive tests, including immediate memory recall, than those who skip breakfast. Other studies have found that skipping breakfast may lead to a shorter attention span, difficulty concentrating and memory problems. [Source]

  1. We can create new connections in the brain.

    A Randomized Control Trial (RCT) testing LearningRx’s ThinkRx personal brain training program has been completed and analysis of the brains of the students found significant physical changes. In the study, 30 high school students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: ThinkRx, digital training, or study hall (control) for a 15-week training period. All students underwent cognitive testing and MRIs pre- and post-training. Analysis of cognitive testing scores found that training groups scored significantly higher than controls on multiple tasks, with the most significant gains occurring in auditory processing. fMRI analysis of resting state connectivity with the auditory cortex by Neuroscientist and Research Fellow at LSU Health Sciences Center Dr. Christina Ledbetter revealed:

  • Significant changes in the resting state connectivity with multiple cortical regions involved in cognitive processing occurred following cognitive training
  • An increase in global network efficiency occurred following cognitive training
  • Network changes in the brain correlated to auditory processing gains [Source]
  1. Quality sleep can improve math and language performance.

    Researchers at McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University found a link between sleep efficiency (quality of sleep) and academic performance in math and languages. Controlling for variables like socio-economic status of the parents, the researchers studied 75 children between 7 and 11 years old. The results showed a significant performance variable related to a good night’s sleep: 7% for English, 8% for French and 14% for math. [Source]

  1. Personal brain training boosted state reading achievement test scores.

    A study of LearningRx’s ReadRx personal brain training program results found that after training, the group of students made statistically significant gains on tests of Word Attack, Spelling Sounds, Sound Awareness and Passage Comprehension. Additionally, 91% of students who completed the ReadRx program showed improvement on state reading achievement tests. For the group of 65 students in the study, the mean gain across reading achievement tests was 3.6 years. Prior to training, the mean percentile for the group was 33. After training, the group jumped to the 47th percentile in reading. [Source]

  1. Just a single session of exercise can change a child’s brain’s function.

    A consensus statement from researchers in eight countries says that exercise is vital not only to a child’s physical and mental health, but also academic performance. Just one session of moderate exercise has been shown to have an “acute benefit” on academic performance, cognition and brain function. [Source]

  1. Even oppositional behavior can been reduced.

    A survey of parents of 226 school-age children who had been previously identified as having oppositional behavior and academic difficulties, found that many reported significant improvements in behavior and academics following LearningRx personal brain training. The study consisted of three groups: 77 students who completed 60 hours of ThinkRx cognitive training; 69 students who completed 120 hours of ReadRx cognitive training, and a control group of 80 students who didn’t undergo any training. The results showed:

  • Both treatment groups saw a reduction in academic difficulty
  • The control group saw an increase in academic difficulty
  • Both treatment groups improved on ratings of oppositional behavior
  • The control group’s ratings of oppositional behavior worsened [Source]
  1. Learning a second language improves your brain.

    Research from the National Endowment from the Arts found that children who learn a second language tend to perform better on IQ tests and standardized tests than children who only know one language. The study also cites sharper memories and listening skills, as well as greater cognitive flexibility, better problem solving and higher order thinking skills. [Source]

To learn more about how one-on-one brain training might help your child, visit www.LearningRx.com.

About LearningRx
LearningRx, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the largest one-on-one brain training organization in the world. With 80 Centers in the U.S., and locations in 40 countries around the globe, LearningRx has helped more than 95,000 individuals and families sharpen their cognitive skills to help them think faster, learn easier, and perform better. Their on-site programs partner every client with a personal brain trainer to keep clients engaged, accountable, and on-task—a key advantage over online-only brain exercises. Their pioneering methods have been used in clinical settings for 35 years and have been verified as beneficial in peer-reviewed research papers and journals. To learn more about LearningRx research results, programs, and their 9.6 out of 10 client satisfaction rating visit http://www.learningrx.com/. To read testimonials from real clients visit www.learningrx-reviews.com.

Helping Your Teen Excel in High School

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It’s time to head back to school, and if you have a teen (or two) in high school, you’re probably already thinking about ways to help him or her survive mentally, emotionally and academically. Even if it’s not your teen’s first year, high school can be scary, stressful and dramatic.

In addition to the physical changes (and raging hormones!) associated with puberty, for most teens, high school is the start of dating, building deep friendships, planning for college and figuring out where they fit into the world. It’s a perfect storm of social chaos (e.g., gossip, hurt feelings, peer pressure and popularity contests), academic challenges and a quest for independence while still living at home.

To help you help be a supportive parent, we’ve put together some tips to help your teen excel. Remember, if they think high school is hard, just wait until they get to college! The better you can prepare your high schooler now—in terms of independence, academic excellence, accountability, confidence and resiliency, the better.

  1. Get them a padlock to practice on. If this is your teen’s first time user a locker with a padlock, they may be feeling worried about not being able to open it fast enough—or at all. It’s a small gesture, but one that can go a long way to build their confidence.
  2. Encourage them to sign up for a club or sport. Feeling like you’re part of a team or group with common interests is a great way to build confidence, make friends and boost your academics and/or fitness levels.
  3. Host sleepovers or parties. The girl who throws the sleepover is rarely the one to be left out of things. For older kids, you may be willing to host a coed movie night or pool party. Just be sure everyone understands the rules in advance!
  4. Remind them that they’re not alone. Teens of both genders can be very dramatic and think they’re the only one experiencing something. Help ease their feelings of loneliness or sadness by reminding them that other teens are going through the same thing.
  5. Enroll them in personal brain training. If your teen struggles academically, take them to a one-on-one brain training center for a cognitive skills assessment. The assessment will tell you which cognitive skills—like attention, logic & reasoning, memory, processing speed, and visual and auditory processing—are weak. Once these skills are identified, a customized brain training program is created to help target those skills. The results can be life-changing!
  6. Get involved at the school. Too often, teens suffer because their parents aren’t involved in their education. Volunteer at the school when you can, even if it’s only working the concession stand at football games or helping to raise money for new band uniforms.
  7. Encourage them to take leadership roles. Being involved in a lot of clubs and sports looks good on college applications, but leadership roles are even more impressive. Encourage your daughter to run for Student Council president or your son to offer to be team captain in Mathletes. Leadership roles build confidence, help them get to know more people and earns them respect among their peers and teachers.
  8. Review their school-related papers, assignments and homework each night. Even seniors miss assignments, forget to do homework and wait until the last minute to write papers that count for a quarter of their grade. By staying involved and asking questions, you’ll help your teen stay on top of things and plan their schedules accordingly.
  9. Download apps to help with time management and organization.
    With so much going on—tests, assignment deadlines, college applications, after-school activities—teens can always use a little help with organization and time management. Forget the “Trapper Keepers” of your generation and consider instead free or low-cost apps. You can read recommendations and reviews online or ask the most organized people you know (adults included!) how they stay so organized.
  10. Talk about personal responsibility. No one likes it when they mess up, but constantly blaming others for your mistakes doesn’t add to your character or credibility. Talk to your teen about peer pressure, risk-taking and taking responsibility for their actions. Help them understand why you or the coach or the school has consequences and that the rules are for everyone.

 

About LearningRx
LearningRx specializes in one-on-one brain training. We train cognitive skills through game-like exercises that are both fun and challenging—and we do it with a unique personal trainer approach. LearningRx’s customer satisfaction speaks for itself with an average rating of 9.5 out of 10. With 80 centers across the country, LearningRx is a pioneer in the one-on-one brain training industry. Learn more at www.learningrx.com and find testimonials from past clients at www.learningrx-reviews.com.

 

LearningRx Brain Training Reviews 10 Ways Parents Can Partner With Teachers

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At LearningRx, we’re big fans of teachers. In fact, we’ve had teachers serve on our executive board and scientific advisory board, work as personal brain trainers, and even purchase LearningRx franchises. (Our founder, Dr. Ken Gibson, actually started his own preschool!) We also offer a FREE online continuing education course from the Professional Learning Board and regular recognitions for teachers, like the Crystal Apple Award.

In addition, because almost all of us are parents, we’re constantly creating articles to help parents and teachers better communicate (check out our piece on “Red Flag Phrases for Parent-Teacher Conferences”) and work together (see “Individualized Education Programs (IEPs): The Basics”), for everyone’s benefit.

There’s no doubt that teachers and parents can make an incredibly strong pairing when everyone works toward realistic goals with mutual respect. So we’ve gathered some ideas from teachers and our staff mommies and are sharing their tips on some of the best ways make teachers feel supported. If you’ve got other ideas, please share them in the comments below!

  1. Offer to help at home. Not everyone can volunteer in the classroom. Parents work, stay home with younger children, take care of sick or elderly family members, or live too far away to make multiple trips to school. But many teachers have things that can be done at home instead. “I have sorted and stapled piles of papers, cut out materials, done online research and sorted art materials into plastic baggies for a craft project,” says one mother of two. “I was surprised at how much I could help from home, and found it to be incredibly relaxing! There’s just something about cutting colored construction paper that takes you back to simpler times.” If you can spare even an hour a week, ask your child’s teachers what you can do at home to help with materials for the classroom.
  1. Share good deals. Even if you can’t afford to buy a ton of extra school supplies for the classroom, you can share extra-special deals that you run across. “I make a list of businesses that are offering freebies during Teacher Appreciation Week and give them to my kids’ teachers,” says one mom. “It doesn’t cost me anything and they love knowing about places like Chipotle and Chick-fil-A that offer freebies or BOGO deals.” Sites like Donors Choose and Fund My Classroom let teachers in high-needs communities post requests for financial assistance for specific projects, equipment, field trips and events. “I couldn’t always afford to donate a lot of money, but I would donate $25 and then use a promo code I’d find online to get a matching the donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, so the teacher would instead get $50 toward her project,” says another mom. “Then I’d share the code with the teacher and other parents, so any parent in the class who donated funds could double their money.”
  1. Volunteer as a chaperone. Most schools have at least one outing, a field day or school dance that needs chaperones. If you plan in advance, you should be able to help out at least once. “We did a field trip to Rock Ledge Ranch, a living-history farm and museum which is spread out over 24 acres,” one fourth-grade teacher recalls. “We hardly had any parent volunteers, so we had to watch close to 20 kids each. It was a very long day. They lost our lunches, one of the kids got sick and, of course, no one had to go to the bathroom at the same time.” Even if you can only go for part of the day, offer to help out at off-campus events. Every set of chaperone eyes helps keep things under control and more enjoyable for everyone.
  1. Offer your services. You don’t have to wait for career day to share your professional talents. If you’re a copywriter, offer to help with the class newsletter. Web designer? Offer to create a free page for the teacher to keep parents updated on everything. Dietician? Ask if the teacher would like you to give a short talk on nutrition during health class. Ask your spouse if they’d be willing to offer their time. “I’m an electric lineman, so I volunteered to do a presentation on electricity for my son’s first-grade class,” says one dad. “I was so worried it would be too boring for young kids, but they loved it! The school invited me back the following year.”
  1. Keep your kids’ learning skills strong. Cognitive skills are the core skills our brains use to think, read, learn, remember, reason and pay attention. When even one of these skills is weak, learning can be a real struggle and even the best teacher can’t make new information “stick.” Enrolling your child in one-on-one brain training to target weak brain skills can create lasting improvements in your child’s ability to learn anything, which makes your teacher’s job easier and more rewarding. “When a child, teen or adult comes to LearningRx, we administer a cognitive skills assessment,” says mother of four and LearningRx Vice President of Research & Development Tanya Mitchell. “The test takes about an hour and allows us to identify which cognitive skills are weak. Once we know which skills to target, we can create a customized program for the student that uses intense but fun training to work on those brain skills that need the most improvement. We’ve had program graduates tell us that their teachers couldn’t believe the results, and what strong, confident learners their students became thanks to personal brain training.”
  1. Head up a party. Teachers sometimes throw parties for holidays, big achievements or the end of a semester. In addition to needing help providing food and drinks, it’s nice for teachers to have a party organizer—someone that coordinates who will bring plates, drinks, food and do set up and clean up. You can also organize a teacher appreciation week. “At our school, the parents host a week-long teacher appreciation luncheon,” says one elementary school teacher. “Each grade provides the meal for a day and they do themes. So first-grade parents provide a buffet of Mexican on Monday, second-grade parents provide a soup and salad day on Tuesday, third-grade parents provide Italian food on Wednesday, and so on. It makes us feel really appreciated and we all agree that it’s one of our favorite weeks of the schoolyear.”
  1. Donate supplies. Time magazine reports that teachers spent, on average, $500 of their own money on classroom supplies. If you have contacts at stores or large companies, ask if they can donate supplies. (Some schools will even supply you with their tax ID number in order for the company to get a write-off.) You can also check yard sales and thrift shops to pick up cheap deals, or ask the teacher to create a list of classroom “needs” and “wants” that you can offer to copy and share with other parents.
  1. Review your kids’ papers nightly. Your kids’ teachers don’t send home papers to waste trees. Read their notes, sign and return papers promptly, and mark your calendar for important dates. Teachers need to focus their attention on educating kids, not making calls to parents who ignore requests for permission form signatures or parent-teacher meetings. “Sometimes, the classes get rewarded for getting all their forms in by a certain day,” explains one teacher. “If there are a couple stragglers who don’t turn in their signed papers, the whole class loses out.”
  1. Show your appreciation. A tiny box of chocolates, a tall mochaccino, a $5 Starbucks gift card for the drive home‑it’s the little things
    (accompanied by a note of appreciation) that show you care and value your teachers. “We had one mom who would bring us little gifts throughout the year,” says one assistant teacher. “A bottle of our favorite Snapple peach iced tea, some homemade soup or a container of raspberries with a nice note of encouragement. We get quite a few gifts around the holidays, but this mom would just bring us little tokens of appreciation randomly. She was so thoughtful that we actually gave HER flowers on the last day of school!” All of the teachers we spoke to said that gifts aren’t necessary, but even a nice note (from the child or parent) can make their day.
  1. Keep teachers in the loop. If your cat died, your ex is getting remarried or your child is having a hard time coping with a new school, let the teachers know. In addition to being able to involve a school counselor, if needed, it allows teachers to consider the role of situational sadness, anger or anxiety on the child’s performance. “When my husband deployed, I spoke to my daughter’s teacher in private to fill her in,” says the mother of an 8-year-old. “When my husband came back on his two-week leave, the teacher gave my daughter a much lighter homework load in order to maximize the time she could spend with her father.”

If you’re not sure how you can best support your teachers, just ask! Also, be sure to check out “6 Things Teachers Wish You Would Do” to get direct insight from surveyed teachers.

 

About LearningRx
LearningRx, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the largest one-on-one brain training organization in the world. With 80 Centers in the U.S., and locations in 40 countries around the globe, LearningRx has helped more than 95,000 individuals and families sharpen their cognitive skills to help them think faster, learn easier, and perform better. Their on-site programs partner every client with a personal brain trainer to keep clients engaged, accountable, and on-task—a key advantage over online-only brain exercises. Their pioneering methods have been used in clinical settings for 35 years and have been verified as beneficial in peer-reviewed research papers and journals. To learn more about LearningRx research results, programs, and their 9.6 out of 10 client satisfaction rating visit http://www.learningrx.com/

Beyond the Bin: 10 Cool Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

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Buying back-to-school supplies, clothes, sneakers, backpacks and lunch sacks is about to require me to refinance my house. Considering that I only have two kids and they have to wear uniforms (which are cheaper than designer duds!), I should count my blessings. I have a friend who has eight kids—seven of whom are in school. I started wondering, How do moms of big families, or for that matter, mom of any size family, save on back-to-school shopping?

So I started asking around and searching the web for the best tips, tricks and advice. Here are 10 of the best. They go beyond the typical “Look for sales in your local area” to give you some more unique ideas. Hopefully there are at least a few that are new to you!

  1. Add Honey, the Chrome extension. Honey adds a new button to your checkout page at any of more than 100 stores, including Amazon, Kohl’s and Sears. With a simple click, Honey will search the web and apply the best coupon code(s) or deal to save you money on your purchase. As Time magazine says, “It’s basically free money.” You can also earn cash back. Just shop at any of thousands of stores that support the Honey extension and if there’s a cash back offer, the Honey button will appear at checkout. Just click the “Activate Cash Bonus” before you finish your purchase.
  2. Shop on a sales tax holiday. Nearly 20 states now offer anywhere from two to seven days of tax-free shopping on certain items. For example, in Texas, May 28-30 and August 5-7 were the tax-free days to shop in 2016. Specifically, during the August three-day holiday, you could purchase clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks for elementary and secondary students without paying sales tax. Those savings can really help a tight budget!
  3. Co-op with other families. Buying in bulk at places like Costco and Sam’s Club is great, but what if you don’t need 100 red pens? Create a plan to buy school supplies and divide them up with other families.
  4. Use cash back websites. Start all your online school shopping at sites like Ebates, which offers cash back and even double cash back at all the major stores. Right now you’ll earn 2% cash back on qualifying purchases at Walmart.com, 6% cash back at JCPenney.com, 10% at Samsung.com and 10% at Dell.com just for starting at Ebates. The Penny Hoarder offers a good list of cash back sites HERE.
  5. Sign up for text-to-get coupon programs. Most major stores now offer “texting clubs” that allow customers to receive mobile coupons on their smart phone. For example, if you text the word “JOIN” to 32453, American Eagle Outfitters will send you coupons via text message. For Famous Footwear, text the word “PROMO” to 326687. For Kmart, text “KMART” to 414141. You can often find these text codes on stores’ websites, but there’s also a good list
  6. Use professional and courtesy discounts. Did you know that Overstock.com offers free Club O Gold memberships for free to active military and veterans, teachers, students and first responders? The Club O Gold membership gives you reward dollars, free shipping on all orders, early access to deals, email offers, up to 40% cash back and more. There are sites that list stores offering discounts to specific professions and groups, including: GovX, which lists discounts for current and former military, first responders and law enforcement; Gift Card Granny lists 81 stores that give discounts to teachers; and The Simple Dollar lists 60 places you can get a discount just for showing a student ID (so bring your college kid with you when you do your shopping!).
  7. Buy discounted gift cards. Places like Cardpool.com sell discounted gift cards for up to 35% off. (You can also sell your unwanted gift cards for up to 92% cash back.) Right now, for example, you can buy a $25 Gap gift card for $21.75 (13% off), or a $25 Old Navy gift card for $21.12 (15.5% off).
  8. Download a price comparison app. Free apps like Shop Savvy let you scan a barcode or search for a product to find out which of 40,000+ stores has the best price. You can even create a shopping list and Shop Savvy will automatically watch the items on your list for the lowest prices. SnipSnap lets you snap a photo of a product in order to get coupons, mobile rebates, best prices and price-match opportunities.
  9. Price match over 100%. Price matching isn’t just for groceries. Some stores like Staples offer a 110% Price Match Guarantee certain times of the year. (Staples’ current 110% guarantee is in effect until September 17, 2016.) The Krazy Coupon Lady has an example of using the Staples offer to price match a 12 count of Bic Ballpoint Pens. Staples was charging $1.00, but Office Depot/Office Max was advertising the same 12 count of pens for $.25. So Staples matched the price, plus gave her 10% of the difference ($.75) which was rounded up to $.08. The final price? $.17 for the box of pens. Fry’s Electronics (which sells office supplies, computers, art supplies and more) will refund 110% of the difference if you see a competitor with a lower price. Other stores that price match over 100%: Shoplet.com, BrandsMart.com, eBags.com, OnlineShoes.com.
  10. Get a refund when prices drop. Paribus tracks the price changes associated with your online purchases. When it spots a price drop, it follows the store’s special procedures to file a claim for you. Paribus takes a 25% commission, but you only pay it based on the money they get back for you.

Do you have a great tip to help other parents save money on back-to-school supplies? Please share it in the comments below.

 

About LearningRx
LearningRx, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the largest one-on-one brain training organization in the world. With 80 Centers in the U.S., and locations in 40 countries around the globe, LearningRx has helped more than 95,000 individuals and families sharpen their cognitive skills to help them think faster, learn easier, and perform better. Their on-site programs partner every client with a personal brain trainer to keep clients engaged, accountable, and on-task—a key advantage over online-only brain exercises. Their pioneering methods have been used in clinical settings for 35 years and have been verified as beneficial in peer-reviewed research papers and journals. To learn more about LearningRx research results, programs, and their 9.6 out of 10 client satisfaction rating visit http://www.learningrx.com/. 

 

Overcoming shyness: Helping your child excel in school and life

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Do you have a son who is so incredibly shy that the first day of school is enough to wreak havoc on his digestive tract? Or a daughter who you worry won’t make friends due to her constant fear of meeting new people? If so, you’re not alone.

While some scientists may argue that shyness is often due to genetic predisposition, many psychologists will point to strong experiential factors. The first may bring up some feelings of empathy; if you were a shy child there’s always the possibility that some of that was passed down. The latter of the two can often be explained by past experiences of rejection or fears of future failure.

But there is good news. For children and teens who suffer from shyness, there are three major steps that parents can take to help:

  1. Highlight past successes
  2. Provide opportunities for new successes
  3. Get to the root of the problem


Reminders of past successes

Highlighting past successes doesn’t have to mean just verbally reminding a child that they did something well. It could include framing a photo of their best dance recital, placing awards or trophies in a place of prominence, placing an announcement in the newspaper or family newsletter, or asking them to mentor a younger child on the piano.

You can also “brag” to family members or friends within earshot of your child, (“I was so proud of Michelle. She scored two points in her basketball game!”) or encourage a child just for attempting something new (even if they didn’t excel at it). Some parents may disagree with the idea of giving out “participation awards,” but in the case of a shy child or teen, just trying something new can be a very big deal.

Opportunities for new successes

Just as you wouldn’t take a child who is afraid of heights up to the top of the Empire State Building, it’s not recommended that you force shy kids into unfamiliar social situations. Your best bet is to introduce them to familiar settings and activities, such as family events, close friends’ birthday parties or play dates in the comfort of their own home.

Building social confidence doesn’t just come from interaction, however. It’s largely based on self-confidence, which can be increased through solo successes in art, music, grades, individual athletics, writing and responsibilities (taking care of an older sibling or pet).

Look for opportunities to help your child soar at whatever he/she does—even if it has to start at home. Once your child hits a major milestone (such as completing an essay and entering it into a contest), be sure to praise his/her effort rather than the final result. In the case of the essay, for example, you could share the piece with friends and family and ask them to send complimentary responses, or post the piece on an online community portal or personal blog.

The root of the problem

Sometimes, shyness is the result of a pervasive problem that may or may not exist outside the child’s control. Bullies, cliques or an overly critical parent or sibling can lead a child to devalue his/her worth and accomplishments. Look for ways to foster discussion with children to help determine the cause of their shyness. Questions like, “What makes you feel sad?” or “When was the last time you were mad?” may spark a conversation that leads to some discovery.

One often-overlooked correlation is that shyness is often paralleled by low self-esteem due to slower (not lower) performance. While some may argue the “chicken or the egg theory”—that slow performance is a result of low self-esteem—scientists and psychologists now know that more often than not, self-esteem can be increased by increasing the speed at which results are attained. In fact, even smart kids tend to suffer a decrease of confidence when they don’t achieve their results (such as test-taking or homework) as quickly or easily as their classmates.

Take Angela Knutsen. Her 9-year-old daughter, Holly, was a good student and incredibly strong reader for her age. But Knutsen had concerns that while Holly was in the upper level math class, she seemed to struggle with her math facts. “When I would practice math drills with her, she would know 6 + 6 = 12, but if I immediately asked 6 + 7, she wouldn’t know,” explains Knutsen. “After I got her tested, I could tell why: her short-term memory was weak and her processing speed was slow. She couldn’t hold 6 + 6 is 12 in her head long enough to process ‘therefore 6 +7 must be one more, 13.’”

In addition, Holly had struggled with low self-esteem and suffered from extreme anxiety. “She has always had trouble going into new situations,” says Knutsen, who herself suffered from anxiety as a child. “She would cry every day when I took her to kindergarten, and in first and second grade she would get herself so nervous about a change in routine; if there was a field trip or an assembly the next day, she would cry several times the night before, and she would look physically sick. It broke my heart.”

Knutsen began researching programs to help bright children. “There were a lot of tutors and businesses that helped kids with severe learning disabilities, but that’s not what Holly needed,” she explains. “I eventually stumbled across a personal brain training company,” explains Knutsen. “The testimonials from other parents—especially those with fearful children like Holly—convinced me to give it a try. I kept hearing that increased confidence was a near-universal side effect.”

Initial testing confirmed that Holly was weaker in those cognitive skills that are needed to excel in math—logic and reasoning, and memory —(though still above average compared to her peers). More specific testing unveiled weaknesses in retrieval fluency, short-term memory, and executive processing speed.

Over the next several weeks, Holly worked with a brain trainer to strengthen her weakest cognitive skills. By the time she completed the program, Holly’s math skills had improved. But perhaps more importantly, so had her self-esteem. According to Knutsen, she was completing math tests and math homework more quickly and therefore didn’t have as much anxiety.

“The biggest change is non-academically,” says Knutsen. “Holly is beaming. She’s more confident, happy, thriving. She’s doing things on her own that she never would have tried before—basketball, art classes, new babysitters.  When she’s running off to try something new, my husband and I often say, ‘Who is this person and what has she done with our daughter?’”**

According to Dr. Ken Gibson, author of “Unlock the Einstein Inside: Applying New Brain Science to Wake up the Smart in your Child” there’s a good reason that kids beat themselves up over low performance. “It’s an endless cycle to try to raise the self-esteem of kids who aren’t performing well—especially if they’re placed into special education instead of trying to address the weak cognitive skills. Special education programs typically seek to accommodate struggling students with a primary strategy of lowering expectations to help those children get through school. Kids still compare themselves with peers outside of class, however, and special education students often suffer eroding self-esteem, which has the power to make their learning disabilities all that much more debilitating. But even smart kids will beat themselves up for underperforming in one subject.”

Tanya Mitchell, Vice President of Research & Development for LearningRX, a personal brain-training franchise, agrees. “We see all types of kids going through our brain-training programs—from children with ADD and dyslexia to teens who want to increase their learning skills to perform better on college prep tests. One of the most reported changes from parents is their child’s increased self-esteem.”

Whatever the cause, shyness is a common condition and shouldn’t be treated as a plague. Many children grow out of it and those that don’t can still go on to build healthy relationships and careers. Still, if there’s a non-genetic reason behind a child’s low self-esteem, getting to the root of the problem could mean watching him/her transform before your eyes.

 

About LearningRx
LearningRx, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the largest one-on-one brain training organization in the world. With 80 Centers in the U.S., and locations in 40 countries around the globe, LearningRx has helped more than 95,000 individuals and families sharpen their cognitive skills to help them think faster, learn easier, and perform better. Their on-site programs partner every client with a personal brain trainer to keep clients engaged, accountable, and on-task—a key advantage over online-only brain exercises. Their pioneering methods have been used in clinical settings for 35 years and have been verified as beneficial in peer-reviewed research papers and journals. To learn more about LearningRx research results, programs, and their 9.6 out of 10 client satisfaction rating visit http://www.learningrx.com/. 
**You may or may not achieve similar results. To learn more about our research and results on thousands of LearningRx clients, visit: http://www.learningrx.com/results.