Coffee Chat: Old Enough

Have you ever seen videos of Asian kids coming home from school? Like this one.

I find these fascinating. Yes, the appliances they have look incredibly simple and efficient (and make me want to buy them), but can we talk about these kids? They seem way too young to be that impressively responsible. I couldn’t picture my 5-year-old prepping dinner or cleaning the house all by himself.

So, when surfing through Netflix shows to binge, I assumed Old Enough was the same thing.

Old Enough (or My First Errand in Japan) is a reality show featuring kids between the ages of 2-5, running their first independent errands throughout town. Despite our initial cringe of SENDING THESE KIDS OUT ON THEIR OWN for the sake of entertainment, their adventures are carefully planned and approved by their families well in advance. If anything were to go wrong (like missing a bus stop or walking home in the dark), the camera and production safety crews are ready to intervene. The show’s intention is to witness and celebrate these little kids as they accomplish something for the very first time. Although the tasks are fairly simple, it’s hard to imagine our own kids taking on the same challenges by themselves with no supervision.

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Autonomy Class

A couple weeks ago, we drafted a whole post about boundaries, along with every other parenting content creator on the block. Patti and I went back and forth on what exactly we wanted to say because at this point, “boundaries” is quite the buzzword and we didn’t know if our post actually had anything new to contribute. Emotional boundaries, trust boundaries, “I won’t let you…”, bodily consent, and so on; each with their own nuance and circumstances.

At our kids’ age (toddler to early school age), most of the boundaries we put in place are for personal safety. And why do we have these safety boundaries, besides avoiding the obvious child negligence charge? So that our kids can learn age-appropriate autonomy without harming themselves or people around them. So let’s start from there….

You know when your child refuses to eat what you made for dinner? Or when they put on some mismatched getup instead of the outfit you laid out for them? They’re not trying to be difficult. What you are witnessing is their autonomy at work.

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Course Notes: The Cerebellum

We have talked an awful lot about the prefrontal cortex and its significance to our performance in everyday life. But what about the back of the brain, like the cerebellum? Where’s the love for that neural region? Turns out that “little brain” found at the base of the skull right above the nape of neck deserves so much applause for what it does.

The cerebellum was the topic of my latest CEU course, so this post is going to get a little technical. But trust us, it’s worth the read.

For centuries, it’s been believed that the cerebellum was only responsible for unconscious motor movement, like balance and reflexes. Although that is true, it’s not its only job. Researchers are finding out more and more about how important and involved the cerebellum really is to our day-to-day operations and what happens when it goes awry.

With its Latin name meaning “little brain”, the cerebellum makes up 10% of the brain’s volume. However, it carries about more than 50% of all the neurons (nerve cells) in our entire body. With the more neural connections than any other part of the brain, the name doesn’t seem as fitting as it once did.

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A Resilient State of Mind: Dealing with Failure

Part of a child’s job is to learn, and failure is an inevitable part of learning. Failure is also an inevitable part of building resilience. Resilience is the ability to face life’s stressors/challenges, learn from mistakes, and recover. It’s a big cause and effect game happening in your child’s brain.

Our kids fail all the time, especially when communicating what they want or need in the first years of life. As they get older and experiment with boundaries and connect information, they can organize all of that cause and effect and turn it into action. They figure out what works (asking for help) and what doesn’t (throwing a fit), learning and adapting with each new situation.

But somewhere in their early school years, our kids can start viewing failure as a bad thing, limiting their exposure to new experiences, encounters, and achievements. What caused this switch and how can we help our kids embrace failure rather than avoid it?

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Growing the Executive Branch, pt. 2: Ages and Stages of Executive Functions

Executive function is a group of cognitive processes that help us analyze information to appropriately complete tasks or respond to social situations. A lot skills that make up this collective and many developing the moment your baby opens their eyes and see your face (Aww). It’s not until they enter their school years where cognitive struggles start to arise, like recalling info, adapting to changes, or having self-control. So how do we know what’s typical, what isn’t, and how to help? Well, let’s break it down by age.

Executive functioning is essentially an umbrella term involving cognitive control, and it can be divvied up into three main areas: working memory, cognitive flexibility (aka flexible thinking), and inhibitory (or impulse) control.

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