Stop Making These Parenting Mistakes:
The Martial Arts Approach To Eliminating Bad Habits In Children.
7 Easy To Learn, Fast To Implement, Time-Tested Tips From Your Kids' Martial Arts Instructor
In this video you'll find the recording of a recent webinar, we go over the seven common parenting mistakes that we've seen over the last few decades of working with families and teaching martial arts to their children. If you'd like to read the transcript instead, it is available below.
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These mistakes can apply to all ages of kids, from toddlers to teenagers. You may be making some, all or none of them.
We go over each mistake, aspects of how they might present and some easy to implement solutions for each one.
A few simple tweaks can help you reduce arguments, develop good habits and improve the connection you have with your children.
Here are the mistakes we cover. They may present in ways that surprise you.
- Too Much Screen Time
- Procrastinating on Proper Meals
- Neglecting Relationships
- Providing Too Many Choices
- Being Too Hard on Them for Making Mistakes
- Being Their Bubble
- Keeping them Busy
Lonnie Beck: Webinaring from my house. Come on over man, let's have a beer.
Somnath Sikdar: All right folks, it looks like we back in action.
Lonnie Beck: All right. For those of you guys that don't know, master Som also has an electrical engineering degree from UPenn. If it was me trying to figure that out, we'd be done for the night.
Somnath Sikdar: Yes, we are back. Let's get on with it.
Lonnie Beck: Let's do it.
Somnath Sikdar: First of all, thank you for joining us and let us move quickly through the next couple of slides so we can get to the meat of this presentation. Just real quick who we are, like Lonnie mentioned we have been involved in Martial Arts for a long time, 32 years of experience, 25 years teaching kids. Co-owner and Operator of Dragon Gym, co-founder of Discovery Group, which is an interesting thing that we will tell you guys about some time. Lonnie, how about you talk about yourself.
Lonnie Beck: Isn't that interesting that our bios are almost identical. I had been in the Martial Arts for 29 years, 22 years of teaching kids. I can't believe I can actually say that. Also, the co-owner and operating Dragon Gym's, Co-founder Discovery Group along with this guy next to me, Som, and I'm also a dad. I think, that's my greatest achievement.
Som, what are we going to be talking about today? It's the seven mistakes that we've seen parents make over the past two decades. Like I said, we're not speaking to you guys from a soapbox. This is just our experiences over the last 20 plus years watching people learn, watching people grow and figure things out on their own. The new challenges due to the changing social and tech landscape, with all the things that are available to our kids today. Our approach and suggestions on turning some of these obstacles into opportunities, big opportunities and then also more tools to improve outcomes from your children.
Somnath Sikdar: Lonnie and I went to an event, It's an event that I go out to every year and Lonnie joined me for the first time. We were talking about this idea of how can we help the parents in our gym and in our community more. We've always been reluctant to give advice because of when we started teaching in the Martial Arts, we were very young, we weren't married, we didn't have kids. The teacher, the operator of this event really said to us, he was like, "If you take a step back, most people have only dealt with kids as long as they've had kids."
Lonnie Beck: Correct.
Somnath Sikdar: Over the years we've seen a lot of things that we said, "You know what? Maybe there's a better way of doing it based on our experience." He suggested, "You know what? Put it out there and see how it's received." Here we are.
Lonnie Beck: That's the test. I'll tell you what, being part of that weekend has changed a lot of things for me, over the last four weeks my mindset is changed and this is all hopefully to benefit you guys as well. Thanks for being here.
Somnath Sikdar: All right, so we're going to jump into it. Our mistake number one, especially in more recent years that we've seen. Mistake number one is what is commonly known as too much screen time, this applies for our kids and it probably applies for ourselves too. I think it's important to note that this isn't a new phenomenon, it's always been a problem. People, kids specifically have watched too much TV and play too many video games, it's just now amplified because smartphones, tablets, screens are everywhere.
Lonnie Beck: It can go with you.
Somnath Sikdar: They can go with you and wherever you go, there's a screen. T
Lonnie Beck: They're there.
Somnath Sikdar: You go to the grocery store, there's anywhere from two to 20 screens. You go to a pizza shop, you go to the airport, they're everywhere. I think what is a Little bit new is this idea that our education needs to be "Tech enabled." I hear from parents a lot, I see it with the older kids where their assignments are actually mandated to be on some sort of technology. This is something that I really disagree with, and I think the research supports that. We'll get into that.
Multitasking, multitasking is seen as a positive by parents and kids. I think from entrepreneurial perspective as a parent, as an instructor, as part of a team, we see a lot of benefits. Like, "Hey, look at all the things that I'm doing, look at all of the the balls I'm juggling." We wear that is a badge of honor. Here's the interesting thing though, multitasking in humans is not a real thing. It doesn't exist.
Lonnie Beck: I can't do it.
Somnath Sikdar: The term itself is a bit of a misnomer. Back when processors, computer processors were first being developed. We didn't have a word to describe what they were doing.
Lonnie Beck: What year are we talking about, by the way?
Somnath Sikdar: I couldn't tell you exactly like '70s.
Lonnie Beck: That's all right.
Somnath Sikdar: I believe it is the genesis of the term multitasking is, we didn't have a word to describe what processors were doing so quickly, but multitasking is actually the wrong word. What computer processors were doing was task switching very fast, they were going from task A to task B back to task A.
Lonnie Beck: Holy cow.
Somnath Sikdar: To the human it looks like they were doing multiple things at once, but they really weren't. They were just doing one thing and then another thing, and then another thing very quickly. The reality is when we multitask, we're just asking ourselves to switch tasks too much.
Lonnie Beck: Correct.
Somnath Sikdar: Every time you switch a task, there's a ramp up time and a ramp down time. It's actually very inefficient.
Lonnie Beck: Just talk to a kid that's on his or her cell phone.
Somnath Sikdar: Right. It's not ideal. Technology is used as a crutch to occupy kids or parents, and we'll get into that a little bit more. It may be causing a lack of social skills.
Lonnie Beck: One of the things that I read was that iPads and iPhones in this technology that kids are using, they create a relationship of 100% return, they get what they want every single time they use it. In terms of their social skills and their social abilities or ineptitude is that a lot of the times when they interact with people, they never get that 100% return of what they want, you have complications and challenges with people. Whereas, I can just go to my phone and no matter what it is that I want, I immediately get that. Which then when it's translated to the social side of people's interactions, it really is a huge disadvantage for people, especially children.
Somnath Sikdar: Finally, too much screen time can inhibit learning, especially this idea of retention and comprehension. I've linked to an article here, I've shared it in a couple of emails or groups, but there was some strong research that indicates that when you're learning is 100% digital, on a laptop, on a tablet, retention and comprehension for the student really suffers. There is still something about, what I call analog taking notes, pen and paper, pencil and paper that helps the student not only remember, but better synthesizing the information.
Lonnie Beck: It would also give them a better opportunity to be if they're a creative person, if they're a little bit more of an analog person to write the notes the way that they want and the shorthand that they want. Som and I have been to a ton of events together and he'll tell you that I have stars and arrows and doodles, and I'm not able to get that same experience when I'm on my laptop.
Somnath Sikdar: Lonnie and I actually write very similar, right? We do the all caps-
Lonnie Beck: All caps.
Somnath Sikdar: Handwriting. If you looked at my notes and you looked at Lonnie's notes, took the names off of it, you would know immediately whose notes are those.
Lonnie Beck: Immediately you'll know who it is.
Somnath Sikdar: Because our brains process a little bit differently.
Lonnie Beck: If we did that on a computer, you wouldn't be able to do it.
Somnath Sikdar: You're forced to do the same way. What are some solutions?
Lonnie Beck: Well, listen right on here is lead by example. Avoid multitasking yourself, right? Watching TV, you're checking your phone when you're with your kid like good luck. There's an app, if anybody has an iPhone, there's an app on the iPhone or feature on the iPhone I guess I could say. That at the of every week it shares with you how much time you've spent on your phone, you've seen this?
Somnath Sikdar: I just turned it on last night, I didn't know about it.
Lonnie Beck: It's insane. Mine was five and a half hours last week, just to think about a five and a half hours I was on my phone last week. We didn't grow up in the age of high school when we had cell phones, but for kids who are, they're going to be spending two to sometimes three times more time on that as well.
Somnath Sikdar: Does it tell you what you were doing on your phone?
Lonnie Beck: Yes. You can click on and it'll tell you exactly all the apps that you spent most of your time on, how much time it was. If you're surfing the internet, if you were on Facebook.
Somnath Sikdar: To be fair, it could be like, "Oh, I spent four hours on kindle."
Lonnie Beck: Correct.
Somnath Sikdar: "Four hours on Instagram."
Lonnie Beck: You'll be able to decide for that information. The thing is, one you can get a clear picture of what you're doing and how much time you're spending or wasting, but then you can also pick and choose like, "Look, I don't need to be on my phone, especially if I'm telling my kids not to be on there's." Leading by example is a huge thing.
Instituting the turn it off Tuesday, that's a cool thing. Tuesday is an opportunity to, once you get home, whenever you have to do at work or for school get it done, but then at a particular time everything should sort of shut off. I think that Verizon or Comcast has a feature on the router that you can block the router signal at home. You can go on your phone and hit a button and it'll stop the router.
Somnath Sikdar: That's a good way to cause mutiny in your family.
Lonnie Beck: That's also a violation of basic civil liberties as well, but we'll save that for another discussion. Turn it off Tuesday is a great opportunity to just completely disconnect and really spend time with the family.
Somnath Sikdar: There's an interesting gradual change in society with how we go to school and how we go to work. Historically, I wouldn't even say traditionally anymore, historically you dressed for work and then you dressed for home, right? The classic example is Mr. Rogers.
Lonnie Beck: He got home from work, took off shoes and put on different shoes.
Somnath Sikdar: Put on his cardigan.
Lonnie Beck: Took off his jacket and put on a different jacket.
Somnath Sikdar: Essentially. Right? There was this idea that there was a ritual separation between your work day and your home life. The combination of less of us doing blue collar work and those of us that are in white collar work have sort of this casual, business casual setting, stacked with this 100% of the time connectivity. There's no longer that clear ritual of shutting it off. You don't wear uniforms to school anymore, we don't wear "uniform" to work anymore. There's no clear sign like my work day, my school day is over, now it's time for home life.
We need to implement that in a new way, some way, and that's done by creating and enforcing rules with technology. It's especially important when it's time for the kids to do homework. I'm a big fan, we grew up this way, many of my students, they instituted this with their families where, there was no computers or technology in the bedroom. Even the computer that's needed to write your papers, it's in the central area. Obviously, this is good for safety reasons and being able to monitor what your kids are doing on the computer, but it starts creating spaces both in your mind and actual physical spaces for certain things. This is for that.
We get home, we do our homework in a common space, if we need to use technology, we do it in a common space and this is what this is for and when we go to other spaces, we don't use technology, we interact with each other and real humans. It's important to use positive reinforcement, especially with younger kids. What are things that you can do to incentivize them to follow these rules. It might be something as simple as giving them a sticker.
Lonnie Beck: How about that?
Somnath Sikdar: Which is working well. Next solution is this idea of employing a habit-bundling strategy. Habit-bundling is a well known concept, but the idea is simple. Bundle what you want to do with what you have to do, and you put those two things together, this applies for adults as well. One thing that you might have to do is take some sort of supplement, let's say like fish oil. What can you bundle, taking your official with that you do anyway?
Lonnie Beck: Coffee.
Somnath Sikdar: Coffee. You put your fish oil next to your coffee mug and that's an easy reminder to take your fish oil every time you make a cup of coffee. Think about the types of things that you can do, what are the things that your kids want to do and bundle it with the things that you need them to do. It could be homework combined with actually playing a video game.
Lonnie Beck: Break that down for every task, doing their laundry or brushing their teeth or washing their hands after they go to the bathroom or whatever that might be, but it's an interesting concept.
Somnath Sikdar: Mistake #2, Are we on that already?
Lonnie Beck: Let's just reference some of the research that we did here before we move on.
Somnath Sikdar: You got that.
Lonnie Beck: Number one, there's this idea of family dinner, is family dinner a correlated thing or a causative thing? It's probably correlated, not causative, but there is a research that show if you do family dinner, the outcomes for your kids are better later in life. They go to college better, employment family situations for them. I can't say that having family dinner will cause it, but it seems to be correlated with better long term outcomes.
Somnath Sikdar: It was from earlier this year, a study from San Diego State University that they found that, just reducing screen time by one hour lead to more happiness in the kids that they studied. So, good news there that if we can just remove one hour of screen time for kids, they will be happier. That's something we can all do, a little bit of a sad or bad news there is that there is an hour to remove from kids on a daily basis.
Lonnie Beck: Then do what? Right.
Somnath Sikdar: Right.
Lonnie Beck: That could be filled with other stuff. This is an interesting one, on the John Hopkins study a school performance suffers. This is John Hopkins University, which is often ranked in the top five of the world, right? School performance suffers when students socialize on their phone, face to face relationships also suffer.
This is not to beat the horse to death, but kids in this day and age don't really know how to speak on the phone. They don't know how to talk face to face the way that we were because we're forced to do it. We didn't text each other, we didn't have direct messages when we were growing up, and it was the only way that you could actually speak to somebody was face to face or you call them on the phone. I always say that I really feel bad for a lot of these young men because they don't know how to ask a girl out anymore. They're just going to do it over a text message.
Somnath Sikdar: That often does not go well. In the workplace, we talked about one of the downfalls of remote workplaces is you miss the "water cooler conversations." When we work, sometimes we're working remotely, sometimes we're on the same site and there's always those passing conversations where we share information.
Lonnie Beck: Yep.
Somnath Sikdar: The same thing is true when kids are in the school setting, there's what they're learning from the teacher and what they're doing at home for homework. There is those passing conversations, whether they're specific about academics or not, but those are less likely to happen nowadays because the kids are socially advising only on-
Lonnie Beck: Text message or Dms.
Somnath Sikdar: Only on some sort of device. It's important to remember that there is more to interacting than just communicating.
Lonnie Beck: Correct.
Somnath Sikdar: By the way guys, if you're on here and you'd like to chime in and get some input or have a question, feel free.
Lonnie Beck: Type something in the comment box or you can pose a question.
Somnath Sikdar: We'd love to hear from you.
Lonnie Beck: Yes we would.
Somnath Sikdar: Mistake number two is Procrastinating on Proper Meals. The whole, as long as they want to eat something mindset, always at my grandma and was like, "It's good for you." Now, that I think about it, it was like we enriched pasta with spaghetti sauce that was laden with sugar-
Lonnie Beck: It was so good.
Somnath Sikdar: That meal will never be able to be replaced, but the theory was get the calories in, is waiting till they're a little bit older to develop and enforce healthy eating habits, which is how do you steer that boat back on course? That's a tough one.
Lonnie Beck: Using food as a reward and typically, we do that a lot with kids. Halloween just happened, there's this idea like, "Hey, if you behave well you get to go trick or treating and you get to have a piece of candy."
Somnath Sikdar: Why is that the carrot?
Lonnie Beck: Why is that the carrot?
Somnath Sikdar: Why isn't it a carrot?
Lonnie Beck: Why isn't it a carrot?
Somnath Sikdar: Then there's this idea, like, "Finish your plate, there're starving kids in India." That's little bit of a tongue and cheek joke, but literally, how we were brought up and I think a lot of Americans-
Lonnie Beck: Did your parents say that to you?
Somnath Sikdar: They actually said that to us. Respecting and being grateful for what we had growing up in this country and not taking for granted the abundance of food that we had, but the "You can't get up from the table until you finish your plate." Can also lead to bad habits. Karen says the same thing, "Never allowed to leave the table unless your plate was empty." That can actually instill this subconscious reward system of overeating.
Lonnie Beck: Well, so really quick story is I was in Samoa, 2006 and I did not understand the culture because Karen and I had the same thing where I was never allowed to leave the table until my plate was empty. In Samoa, you're supposed to leave food on your plate when you're finished, I didn't get this. If you finished your plate, that means that you wanted more, and if you've ever seen Polynesian food, it's starchy and carby and I came back from that trip at 202 pounds.
The fact is I was finishing my plate, I didn't understand the cultural cues, but I kept finishing my plate, which is sometimes your kid might have the amount of calories and fat and protein that they need in that particular meal, and it's not just about finishing that meal. It's also about not really knowing what's healthy are also not knowing what's bad for your child's health.
Here's some solutions for that, kids eat healthy and have better mental and emotional health that's 100% fact. If you're getting the proper nutrition, and your body systems are working well. The hormones that are supposed to be developing at this particular point is of age, are happening as well. Creating a healthy eating mindset and habit as early as you can. How early are we talking?
Somnath Sikdar: There's no moderation, I would say zero years of age.
Lonnie Beck: Zero years old. Right? My wife is actually doing this now with our daughter where we're feeding her whole foods, of course some of them are ground up and stuff like that, but we're following certain philosophies of eating that we follow as well.
Somnath Sikdar: Well, when daughter was very, very young, we used to joke around like we had the same meal. She'd have a bottle of formula and I have a weight protein shake in the morning. Then she started eating solid foods and she eats eggs, I eat eggs, she eats cottage cheese, I eat cottage cheese, she eats fruits, I eat fruits. It goes back to the same thing, is leading by example is, they are going to enJoy eating what you're eating, it's doing it together.
This I think is really important, the idea of flipping the pyramid or like you have in the notes, just throw it out completely.
Lonnie Beck: Throw the pyramid out.
Somnath Sikdar: The old food pyramid was this, what was at the base of the pyramid? Grains-
Lonnie Beck: Grains and whole wheat products and things like that. Which we've come to know-
Somnath Sikdar: Carbohydrates.
Lonnie Beck: Through research and different researchers in universities that grains aren't necessarily the safest things for humans to eat, especially in having them as the base of our diet. There's a lot of research out there on things that we should be doing, but grains are to be the number one thing that kids should be eating. Should be rethought.
Somnath Sikdar: I think the pyramid used to go grains at the base, meaning have mostly grains then protein, then fats, and it turns out that, that recommendation that they were making for the last 40 years or so could be wrong.
Lonnie Beck: Could be wrong.
Somnath Sikdar: Could be wrong. Fat, if you understand the mechanism of how that works in the body may not be so bad after all. Then high in protein, fats, proteins, and your carbohydrates coming from greens, fruits and vegetables seems to be the best way to go for kids and adults to stay healthy and stay lean. Which is better for all of us.
Lonnie Beck: Replace the sweet treats with healthier snack options.
Somnath Sikdar: What are they?
Lonnie Beck: Oh man, just go to wholefoods, look around. There's all kind of stuff out there, there's nuts and obviously there's nut allergies, you can't do stuff like that, but combining what they like with what they want. I guess this goes back to sort of what you were talking about a minute ago Som.
Somnath Sikdar: I mean this goes to the habit-bundling idea, combining what they like with what they want is, as much as I would like to be an absolutist kids can be fickle.
Lonnie Beck: Yep.
Somnath Sikdar: It's accepting that and making sure that, it's not a battle every single time you will have to make compromises. One of the ways we do it is this idea of offering an A or B choice instead of yes or no choices. This works really, really well for us and it works well for the families that we suggested because it puts you in the driver's seat and puts you in control of the things that your child is going to have them.
Lonnie Beck: It gives them the perception of control.
Somnath Sikdar: It's a little bit of manipulation, which is.
Lonnie Beck: I wouldn't say it's manipulation. No, I would call it persuasion.
Somnath Sikdar: Persuading them. For example, "Hey daughter, do you want eggs for breakfast?"
Lonnie Beck: "No."
Somnath Sikdar: She can say no. Alternatively, I will say, "Daughter, do you want eggs or cottage cheese for breakfast?" Now, her brain has to think of one of the two.
Lonnie Beck: Correct. When she says what she wants and you give it to her, she wins.
Somnath Sikdar: She wins in her mind.
Lonnie Beck: That's the key, she wins.
Somnath Sikdar: My wife jokes around is like, because my daughter and I get into it as you can imagine, she's like, "What's the point? You're arguing with yourself."
Lonnie Beck: You're like, "It's going to help."
Somnath Sikdar: Fruit, fruit, fruit.
Lonnie Beck: Now, there's a lot of things going around talking about you should only eat fruits that are in season in your particular area. Listen, fruits are fine, chill. Just eat fruit, chill out, stop reading some of this stuff. Chill.
Somnath Sikdar: Nobody-
Lonnie Beck: Got fat from eating too much fruit. No.
Somnath Sikdar: It's sweet, there's sugar.
Lonnie Beck: Kids love it.
Somnath Sikdar: Kids love it.
Lonnie Beck: Here's the other thing, if you eat too much ice cream, you're going to get sick of ice cream. If they eat too much fruit, they'll just move on to something different.
Somnath Sikdar: Like we said, an occasional treat is still okay.
Lonnie Beck: Yes.
Somnath Sikdar: Don't have to be crazy. Mistake number three-
Lonnie Beck: Man, neglecting relationships. Not spending quality time with the whole family, your spouse, each child individually, your siblings and I'm going to put this one in here yourself as well. As carving out some time in your data to really focus on you, but not paying enough attention to sibling dynamics. Like how are your kids learning how to interact with each other? How is their conversation changing as they grow and mature and have different experiences.
Som also in here, you wrote, see number one, you want to-
Somnath Sikdar: Mistake number one was too much screen time.
Lonnie Beck: Correct.
Somnath Sikdar: Always spending too much time on our screen because it's so easy to do and thus neglecting our relationships.
Lonnie Beck: Had we fixed those things. Solutions are the ability to engage in healthy real world relationships is a predictor of success, right? School work and family life.
Somnath Sikdar: What we're asking you to do or suggesting is pick activities that you can do in both 1 to many and 1 to 1 relationships. I really loved this idea, this idea of peer-peer, peer-near peer, and then of course mentor-student relationship. Here's where the Martial Arts bias comes in, when kids are involved in an activity like Martial Arts and it's definitely not exclusive to that. It might be other things, different sports, games, hobbies, that there's an opportunity for them to develop peer-peer relationships.
A child enrolls with us in our Martial Arts program and they're going to be with other students. Let's say they're eight, all the other students in that class are going to be seven, eight, nine or 10 years old.
Lonnie Beck: Correct.
Somnath Sikdar: These are essentially peers for our purposes, much like the school setting, but they can also have peer-near peer relationships, meaning in those classes we have kids that are in our-
Lonnie Beck: Junior instructor's.
Somnath Sikdar: Junior instructor program. Now, these kids might be more than two or three years older than them. They have more experience in the Martial Arts already, they'd been a Dragon Gym longer. Now, a near peer is often easier to relate to than a mentor.
Lonnie Beck: Correct.
Somnath Sikdar: Because the distance is too far, but that mentor student relationship is still important. So, obviously we have a bias, I think towards that you can get all three of these things in Martial Arts, but you put your kid on the soccer team, you're going to have two-
Lonnie Beck: Two of the three.
Somnath Sikdar: Two of the three for sure. Music, chess club.
Lonnie Beck: Swimming, whatever it is.
Somnath Sikdar: They all have some opportunity for these things. Some suggestions we have for activities, family dinner comes up again, family game night, sports, it could be formal or informal, doing trips and outings. Really making the time to do a simple trip, simple trips to the park, there're so many nice parks and reserves around.
Lonnie Beck: They're building another one new one right next into-
Somnath Sikdar: Did you go to Milky Way Farms?
Lonnie Beck: Yes, I did.
Somnath Sikdar: Such a simple thing, but so much fun.
Lonnie Beck: Cool place. Right down the street here, and obviously Martial Arts. I wrote a quote here from one of our families that actually wrote this on Google somewhere. It's a testimony it says, "Our family has grown closer together because of training in Martial Arts." We have a lot of families that train in our Martial Arts School that, all of the people in the family or a black belt, all of them and it's pretty cool. Mom, dad, and for boys, mom, dad, two kids.
They have that common bond, there's that common connection that like if you have a kid that's 11 years old and you have a kid that's six years old, there's really nothing that they have in common other than the fact that they share parents. Right? But, when you have something that is as deep as Martial Arts and they have that uniform, and that belt, now they're on the same team. Now, they have all of this stuff to bite into together-
Somnath Sikdar: It's a really new thing to experience.
Lonnie Beck: Listen to this, Laura says, "We've taken iPads away from boys during the week. It's been great to see all toys again."
Somnath Sikdar: Oh, the old toys you like, you break out these old toys. You're like, "What the hell do these things do?" You put the square and the square?
Lonnie Beck: We have two more things here, our solutions for this idea of neglecting relationships. The first one is this don't directly intervene with sibling squabbles. I think that's important because when you have siblings, there are some differential in age like you mentioned. Like my sisters are quite a bit older than I am, but that different seems huge when you're a kid. Later in life it becomes insignificant.
Somnath Sikdar: A lot more relatable.
Lonnie Beck: Your sister is two or three years older than you.
Somnath Sikdar: Two years.
Lonnie Beck: When you're 10, 12 or 13 seems like a different wow.
Somnath Sikdar: She was in a different universe, I didn't know anything she was doing, but now we're relatively the same age.
Lonnie Beck: You're adults.
Somnath Sikdar: 18 months apart. That sort of goes away.
Lonnie Beck: It can be very tempting to step in and break up the fights, but what we are inhibiting is the ability for siblings to understand how to deal with contentious relationships. They won't be contentious all the time, but isn't it better that they learn how to deal with difficult situations with a loved one?
Somnath Sikdar: Yes.
Lonnie Beck: Before they have to deal with it, whether it's a classmate or a coworker or a teacher or a student.
Somnath Sikdar: Because those things were solved by them, by mom and dad all the time.
Lonnie Beck: Is this idea of learning how to cope with difficult people, but also how to negotiate the contentious relationships that we're talking about. Finally, save the and I have it in quotes, "adult" conversations for after the kids are in bed. By adult, I mean there are certain things that you need to talk with your spouse and partner, that it's not necessarily inappropriate for the kids to hear, but the nature of the subject may be high or low stress.
Somnath Sikdar: Correct.
Lonnie Beck: That, whether the kids were involved in that conversation or not, they will be dragged in.
Somnath Sikdar: Dragged, definitely. Dragged in.
Lonnie Beck: Into the emotional ethos of that conversation, right? It's best to save those conversations for after the kids are in bed, so that you can talk about those things at length. You're not stressed out about dinner and getting them to bed in the first place, then you can have a meaningful conversation about what's happening. The idea of having an after the kids are in bed, prevents you from needing to have those conversations first thing in the morning while everybody's trying to get ready for the day.
Somnath Sikdar: Everybody knows the morning times are nuts.
Lonnie Beck: If there are things to discuss and things you need to plan for the next day, the next week, do it after the kids are in bed. So, your mornings are clear and there's no misunderstanding of conflict for the kids. Moving on-
Somnath Sikdar: Number four, numero quattro, too many choices. One of the things that I picked up, and I'll be honest, the gentleman that delivered this presentation of the confused mind always says no, it wasn't really impressive to me, but this line that he said he could have walked into the room said this and left.
Lonnie Beck: That may have been better for all of us.
Somnath Sikdar: A confused mind always says no and that's whether you're a salesperson or whether you're a parent, that's a really, really big takeaway from this thing. We feel like we're doing the right thing by giving many options and opportunities the kids were, a lot of the times were just overwhelming them. Kids are over scheduled and overwhelmed and I wrote this, "Ice cream is great, but when you have too much of it, it makes you sick."
We constantly see people that are running around like nuts, trying to get their kids to all of these different things and activities. Causes frustrations for the parents too, is the car the fourth member of your family? Assuming that you have three people in your family, it could be the fifth member. You're splitting your time between home, school, the car and I know just taken eight month old daughter in places. Getting her into the car is a huge stress.
Lonnie Beck: Getting her into of the car, it could be a huge stress.
Somnath Sikdar: Well, it's the stresses quickly stack up, so let's control them where we can, both for our kids and for ourselves.
Lonnie Beck: Correct. Here's some solutions that you want to dive into the Som?
Somnath Sikdar: Let's do it. Still provide some choices, the reason for this is we don't want make all the decisions for our kids, we want them to start making those decisions. First implicitly and then I think eventually, explicitly they'll start to understand this idea that saying yes to something may mean that you have to say no to one or more other things.
Lonnie Beck: Of course.
Somnath Sikdar: Teaching kids that idea, that there is a consequence, there is sacrifice to be made for their decisions. I have found for myself, my students, and my daughter, that this idea of two to three options is the sweet spot.
Lonnie Beck: This could be diet, this could be activities, this could be everything. That two to three options or things that you're going to control as the parent, and then give them the illusion, I guess, that they're the ones making the decision. This is another big one, is the learning how to say no to opportunity. You talked about this could be with, with all kinds of things have play dates or ice hockey or whatever it might be, but if they're going to do something and that's going to eliminate time from something else. Learning how to say no to things as they pop up is a really good skill to have as a mom and dad.
Somnath Sikdar: Last week, this week, last week was Halloween.
Lonnie Beck: Yep, last week.
Somnath Sikdar: We plan out the Halloween day, so there was a Halloween parade at school, then a Halloween party at school, and then my friend had off from work so he was going to bring his daughter over to have a play date with my daughter. Then there was a parade in the neighborhood, and then there was sugar treating, and then another set of friends were coming over.
Lonnie Beck: Jeez.
Somnath Sikdar: It was a crazy day, I had to take a step back and say, "You know what? We have to eliminate one of these things." You want her to enjoy it, you don't want her to be overwhelmed and wake up next morning and wonder what happened? She understood that, you know what? This will be a better way to do it.
Lonnie Beck: How was the party by the way? Was it good?
Somnath Sikdar: It was a lot of fun, it was a lot of fun, but she made the choice of what to leave out. She said to me, "Look, this is a four and a half year old." I said, "You know what? Let's reschedule the play date with Jia." Her friend's name. "So that we have more time and it's not as rushed."
Lonnie Beck: There you go. You don't have a normal four year old by the way.
Somnath Sikdar: Oh wow. Just another more general example, right? Typically, your kids might want to do a bunch of things like dance, gymnastics, swimming lessons at Martial Arts is okay. Which of those things are you going to eliminate? Maybe there's five or six things you have to make an executive decision.
Lonnie Beck: You've got to widdle it down to two or three.
Somnath Sikdar: Eliminate a couple of those things. For us we took dance off the table, and we said, "Do you want to do swim or gymnastics?"
Lonnie Beck: Because karate is not a choice.
Somnath Sikdar: Not for her, but hypothetically it would say, "Hey, you want to do swimming, gymnastics or karate, you got to pick two."
Lonnie Beck: Right.
Somnath Sikdar: Moving on.
Lonnie Beck: What did she pick?
Somnath Sikdar: Swimming.
Lonnie Beck: Swimming. Mistake number five, being too hard on them for making mistakes. Fewer failure can be the enemy of resilience and grit, isn't that the truth?
Somnath Sikdar: Mistake five and mistakes six are cousins. Which we'll get into, but being too hard on them from making mistakes. As a parent, there's this cliche about the Asian household.
Lonnie Beck: You're talking about tiger moms?
Somnath Sikdar: I've heard the term tiger mom, I'm not totally familiar with what it exactly it means, so I'm not going to reference it. The cliche of the Asian household is something like this, and it's something that I grew up with specifically. You bring home a grade and you think it's a good grade.
Lonnie Beck: Grade, like a grade on a test or something.
Somnath Sikdar: On a paper or a test or something, and you get an A and you're like, "Oh, that's great. I got an A." "Why didn't you get an A+?" Okay, well that's, "I don't know. I got a 98 out of 100. Isn't that good?" "No, no. Why didn't you get an A+? All right. Next time you get a 100 out of 100, "Why didn't you get extra points?" "Well, there weren't any available." "Did you ask?" "Well, no."
In one sense, they did that and we do that because we want to push our kids, but if it's not done in the right way, it's very defeating. I got a 98 out of 100, why bother? They're not going to be happy anyway. The other is if you're afraid of making mistakes because you might not get a perfect score, that's not good either.
Lonnie Beck: No. Well, and that fear failure because of fear of letting your parents down will create anxiety, will create hesitation.
Somnath Sikdar: Not just letting your parents down. It could be anybody.
Lonnie Beck: It could be anybody.
Somnath Sikdar: It was like, when I was coaching competitive athletes, a lot of them were afraid to compete because they thought they would let their teammates or coaches down if they lost. This idea I think is, we don't want to be focused on perfection rather we want to be focused on excellence.
Lonnie Beck: Right.
Somnath Sikdar: You don't have to be perfect. Just be good, doing really good.
Lonnie Beck: I had a conversation with one of our staff members today and in our Berwyn location, she competed in a Jiu-Jitsu tournament this past weekend and I walked in and deliberately said, "How did it go?" She immediately put her head down and said, "I lost." That right there showed that she was giving me or she felt like she was letting me down because she lost the match.
Somnath Sikdar: That's right.
Lonnie Beck: Through a little bit of a NLP and manipulation. I got out of her that she actually had a lot of fun. She had a lot of fun training for it, she had a lot of fun competing and being in that ethos of competition where I drew her down that path and try to teach her that, that's what was the important part. You didn't have to tell me that you won or lost, that doesn't matter to me. What mattered to me is the fact that you had fun, right? That can go for any activities that the kids [crosstalk 00:42:41].
Somnath Sikdar: What matters is she lost, but she's back in the gym training tonight.
Lonnie Beck: Tonight.
Somnath Sikdar: Great. Number one, teaching them that failing is okay, it's what they do after that failure is what matters. Number two, this idea of focusing on performance over results, using the competitive example again, I've had fighters when their matches and they would find out how disappointed I was even after the win.
Lonnie Beck: Because it took too long or they didn't kill all of them whatever it is.
Somnath Sikdar: One of the things we look for in fighters, like coachability, is their ability to follow instructions and follow the game plan in the ring.
Lonnie Beck: That's it.
Somnath Sikdar: You won, but you didn't follow my instructions from the corner and you didn't follow the game plan that we had in place. You're going to hear about that. Conversely, if they did listen to us from the corner, they did follow her game plan. They fought their game, they did well and they just lost that day. You know what? Sometimes, the other person is better than you. It does happen. Making sure that they know that like, "Hey, you did everything we did right. Next time we'll go again."
Lonnie Beck: Talk to them through the consequences of bad decisions and discuss one or more alternatives that would have yielded better results.
Somnath Sikdar: Maybe they made a bad choice, is walking them through like, "What you do have done in this situation?"
Lonnie Beck: It was the B, a little bit more objective in their approach to looking at their failures. I think that a lot of the times kids are really hard on themselves for a few reasons. One, they want sometimes, mom and dad to see that they're being proactive in that, but also when something bad happens, you got to step back and say, like you said, "Why did this happen? How can I prevent it from happening?" Then learning from it, it's the whole, you either win or you learn type of thing.
Somnath Sikdar: That's right.
Lonnie Beck: What do you do with that loss? What are you going to do?
Somnath Sikdar: Have high, but consistent standards. I think that's pretty straight forward. Make sure they know you'll always have their back.
Lonnie Beck: No matter what man. There is nothing, I can't remember the actual situation or context of this, but I remember one time I just, I blew it. I don't remember what it was, and then, my dad was always the hard one on me growing up and I remember whatever I was doing, I came back home and he goes, "It's all right man, I still love you." To hear him say that, it was in the context that my dad was using, but I was like, "All right, he's got my back no matter what, I can fall on my face." It didn't give me any excuse to be lazy, but it did give me an excuse to have a little bit less fear in trying things, and going out and seeking what it is that I wanted. Where are we at now? Mistake number six.
Somnath Sikdar: Like mentioned, mistake number six is the cousin of mistake number five. Mistake number five was, being too stringent and being too hard on them, being too exacting. Mistake number six is the other side of that coin is being their bubble.
Lonnie Beck: Is exacting a word?
Somnath Sikdar: It is now.
Lonnie Beck: It is. Write that down Ken.
Somnath Sikdar: It seems like the opposite of mistake number five, sometimes these go together, we want to keep them happy and safe. Our intent is to shield them from hurt and disappointment.
Lonnie Beck: Gosh, so much.
Somnath Sikdar: We also want them to have better long term outcomes. That's like, "I'm going to help you on your homework. Okay, I'm just going to answer this problem for you so you get a good grade." In fact the opposite may be true.
Lonnie Beck: This whole idea of being a net, not a shield. Not standing in front of your kids like, one of those spartan warriors where nothing gets them. They're not allowed to have any afflictions in life or any situations that are going to break them down, you've got to let some things through. They got to get some dirt on their face, and we see this a lot in teaching kids when it's sparring, when it comes time to actually put the gear on and hit each other, that one kid gets that really strong back kick to the gut, "Hey man, there's sometimes where I know if you're injured, I'm going to come over and definitely help you and give you the attention that you need, but I know also that if it just took the wind out of you and if I give you a minute or two to regain yourself, that you're going to stand back up and you're going to get back in the ring, and kick that person back."
Somnath Sikdar: That's right.
Lonnie Beck: Let them fight their own battles as appropriate. Obviously, there're some things that we need to. That goes back to the idea of being a safety net but not a shield. Fighting their own battles could be dealing with a kid at school that they're not getting along with. It could be dealing with a sibling, and it could be dealing with their teachers.
Somnath Sikdar: Of course.
Lonnie Beck: Their mentors, understanding how to interact with adults that are maybe not going their way.
Somnath Sikdar: Yeah.
Lonnie Beck: Expose them to physicality. I Think this is a big one, the brain is meant to process information through all nine senses. Typically we hear of five senses, sight, sound, taste, touch and smell, but there are actually four more physiological processing mechanisms in the body.
Somnath Sikdar: What are those?
Lonnie Beck: Temperature, it's actually a different ... It's not touch, so they get conflated.
Somnath Sikdar: Okay.
Lonnie Beck: Temperature, balance, pain, time.
Somnath Sikdar: Time.
Lonnie Beck: We have a sense of time. It's not an objective sense of time, but we have one.
Somnath Sikdar: Sure.
Lonnie Beck: This idea of being exposed to physicality is, and this also goes back to mistake number one is, if they're not interacting with the world, forget about other people. There are connections in the brain that are just never being made.
Somnath Sikdar: They're not.
Lonnie Beck: We want to make sure that they have that. The other side of it is this metaphorical sense of the physicality is ... and this goes a lot to training in Martial Arts generally, but especially something like Jiu- jitsu or Sparring is when you get hit or when somebody is trying to choke you out or break your arm, the other stuff that's flying at you, it seems a lot less severe.
Somnath Sikdar: It definitely narrows focus. That experience is compounded, that is the benefits of that are exponential. You get hit, you get hit in the face. People can get hit in the face quite a bit harder than they think they can. Listen, I'm not saying that it's safe to take one on the chin.
Lonnie Beck: We're not pro concussion here.
Somnath Sikdar: We're not at all, but you watch a kid that gets hit in the chest by a back kick and their initial reaction is to cry, but if they were to really step back and ask themselves, did that really hurt? The answer is almost always no. Almost always, no. Sometimes it hurts, but you can move on, but what we're setting them up for is the world, like you said, "There's going to be people out there that are going to either try to take advantage of them, take their things or hurt them. If they have the ability to withstand some of that pressure, like they can in Sparring or Jiu-Jitsu that you've exposed them to at a young age, then there's very few people that are going to ever be able to take advantage of the child.
What is mistake number six is all about? It's all about if we bubble our kids, if we shelter them too much, they'll never develop resilience. Resilience and grit and two popular words right now, but that's what we all need more of.
Lonnie Beck: A little bit of [crosstalk 00:51:24].
Somnath Sikdar: The ability to recover quickly from difficulties.
Lonnie Beck: Homestretch folks, we're almost there.
Somnath Sikdar: We're almost there. I think we're going to run a couple minutes long, but we had some technical hiccups in the beginning. We're going to finish out.
Lonnie Beck: Cool. Number seven, keeping them busy. An idle mind is ...
Somnath Sikdar: The devil's playground.
Lonnie Beck: The devil's playground. Busy-ness is masked as enrichment, their activities bias idleness. I was at the cheesecake factory by the way, if anybody has ever not been there, go to the cheesecake factory, you'll leave 15 pounds heavier. There was a mom that was yelling at the kid and said, "Quiet, so I can work." I went to the bathroom and noticed that the work was Instagram. She wanted her child to be quiet so she could mess around on social media. We don't want them to be bored, which is, people think that boredom is not necessarily a good thing for children. However,-
Somnath Sikdar: My sister has three kids and she used to say, "When they get quiet, I get concerned, because then they're up to something." There is this idea, if they're not doing something then they're going to get into something no good.
Lonnie Beck: Right.
Somnath Sikdar: Which is a possibility.
Lonnie Beck: Of course. Who hasn't?
Somnath Sikdar: However, boredom leads to creativity.
Lonnie Beck: Of course. We have ... Som knows this part of my family well, my mom has a sister that lives up in the backwoods of Maine and they resolve their kids there, and they never had any electronics in the house. They don't have a TV, they didn't have anything, and you've been to their house.
Somnath Sikdar: Oh, yeah.
Lonnie Beck: Remember how much art there was in their house?
Somnath Sikdar: Everywhere.
Lonnie Beck: The whole family played instruments. I mean, there was nothing else to do other than to find something to do.
Somnath Sikdar: They grew and cultivated their own food.
Lonnie Beck: They had goats and chickens and all kinds of stuff, but it led to this unbelievable amount of creativity in these children, and now they're all three insanely successful kids. The creativity is definitely something that needs to be nurtured. Stick them in a room, let him figure it out.
Somnath Sikdar: Well, I think there is a lot to that.
Lonnie Beck: Of course.
Somnath Sikdar: With the technology ... I forget who it was, I can't remember, but it was a very famous musician, he it was being interviewed and they asked him, and this was in the "Hey Dave, VH1 MTV." They asked him like, why didn't you ever make a music video? It's a clear path to making millions and millions of dollars. He said, "That is the music video is the antithesis of music, because the beauty of music is even more so than like a listening to a story or a book because the narrative is very specific and descriptive."
I'm reading a book, a good author will paint the picture for me in words. Music is something that, it has lyrics, but it's much more emotionally evocative. When it's only the music, it forces your brain to create the rest of the image. He said, "Why would I do that? Why would I make a video and take that away from my listener?"
Lonnie Beck: We're going to find who that is. That's incredible.
Somnath Sikdar: I got to go back and find that.
Lonnie Beck: There's something that happens when you listen to a song, especially if it's a song that is from back in your childhood or the high school years, is that you may have a flash of an image in your head that you go back to every single time you hear that song, you paint your own picture in that song.
Somnath Sikdar: That's right. You will be surprised if you force your kids to go outside. My wife and my mother-in-law told me the story is like, my mother had four kids and she used to say, "I'm mopping the floors and we'll lock them outside." It was either she had the cleanest floors in the world or it was just a lie.
Lonnie Beck: She was kicking her feet up.
Somnath Sikdar: The idea is, just that you don't necessarily have to send them outside, but they'll figure out something to do. They will make toys out of nothing. There was a comment that you put the iPads away, the old school toys come out.
Lonnie Beck: That's right, they're going to figure it out, and I'm sure that they're probably the ones that went and found them.
Somnath Sikdar: One more line here, meditation, mindfulness breathing exercises. They're not necessarily the same, but I think related, this was a practice that I was introduced to very young and I think it has served me well my entire life. This idea of going back to some sort of meditation or breathing exercise, something that I learned from my grandfather when he was visiting, we practice together.
One, it goes to those relationships, the one to one or one to many relationships in this case was the one to one relationship, definitely not a near peer but a far peer. You're receptive sometimes, just like students are receptive to us as their Martial Arts instructor more than they are to their parents. Sometimes, you can have that relationship with their grandparent too, but it's something that we did together.
Lonnie Beck: It's probably a memory that you have and it's still something that you remember in terms of the operational mode of how to actually do it.
Somnath Sikdar: It's also, it was noble, like what is this strange thing that this guy that speaks not so great english is teaching me to do, and it was combined with some stick fighting that was cool.
Lonnie Beck: Come on man, that's awesome.
Somnath Sikdar: Think of how can we incorporate these things like meditation, mindfulness or just plain old breathing exercises in a novel way, with your kids or maybe with your grandkids. In my opinion, it will serve them the rest of their lives.
Lonnie Beck: Of course. Wow.
Somnath Sikdar: We made it.
Lonnie Beck: That was an hour.
Somnath Sikdar: We made it. What's next? Many of you are on this webinar, are already familiar with us, members of the Dragon Gym, we really appreciate you joining us. There are some people on that I don't think our members. If you are close to the Exton or Berwyn area, we're very easy to find on dragongym.com.
One thing that we have launched since this retreat of source that we went to is a newsletter with some more detail on all of these strategies and tips that we're talking about. The newsletter publishes on the 15th of every month. Things that you can expect in the newsletter, we have a ... would say she's asleep expert?
Lonnie Beck: She is a sleep specialist for families.
Somnath Sikdar: Sleep specialist. We will have several guests contributions, that's one example. Things that you can expect in addition to our guest contributors from Lonnie and myself, real detailed strategies on building confidence in your kids, how to travel with your kids. Something that Lonnie you like to do a lot and have not had to give up.
Lonnie Beck: Nope.
Somnath Sikdar: There are some hacks on how to do this well.
Lonnie Beck: They're most certainly hacks.
Somnath Sikdar: Also, some just fundamental strategies with being able to travel. Nutrition tips, workout tips, studying, some of the approaches that I have used and recommended to many, many students for studying and getting A's. Eight simple steps for getting to the top. We sort of joked around about this idea of manipulation. I said, well, it's really persuasion, sometimes, how do we persuade those kids in our junior black belt and junior league, those teens, and preteens to do what we need them to do.
Lonnie Beck: To stick with something, right?
Somnath Sikdar: Stick-to-itveness.
Lonnie Beck: Stick-to-itveness with that age group is very, very difficult thing to do.
Somnath Sikdar: Some ways to connect better with your kids because that important thing of connection is sometimes lacking.
Lonnie Beck: I'm really excited about this newsletter, in addition to the guests that we're going to be having each month, just the amount of material and the type of material quality of the things that we're putting out and addressing. I think are going to be of high interest of anybody that's parent, whether you're local or not. Things that we've experienced, personally things that we've seen different parents go through, and this is going to run the gamut of just about every single topic that we can imagine. I haven't been excited for something like this in a long time.
Somnath Sikdar: You see a link on your screen, www.somnarsikdar.com/dg-parenting-best-practices-newsletter/. This newsletter is $47 per month, you can cancel at anytime, but as a thank you, if you use that link specifically, it will be available for prelaunch price of just $29 a month. Like I said, you can cancel anytime, but I think you will find a lot of value.
Lonnie Beck: First edition is done.
Somnath Sikdar: It is done.
Lonnie Beck: It's done. It's ready to go.
Somnath Sikdar: It's ready.
Lonnie Beck: We have our guest contributor that submitted everything. It's manners, that's a good article. Looking forward to getting to the next one already.
Somnath Sikdar: Let us wrap it up. This is Somnath Sikdar I'm here with Lonnie Beck. Thank you so much for us and sticking through with us for this hour, if you don't know where to find this dragongym.com is a good place also, somnathsikdar.com you can get in touch with us if you guys are already members of the Dragon Gym. Facebook is probably a quick and easy way to get a hold of either of us, Facebook.
Lonnie Beck: Yeah. That's it. Thank you guys. Thanks everybody for sticking around. I appreciate it.
Somnath Sikdar: More to come, just stay tuned.
Lonnie Beck: Till later.