Parenting Skills: ENDORPHINS: The Key to Effort and Focus in Children and Teens | Gentle East Martial Arts
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Erin Elam reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
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I can’t explain just how amazing this place is! My daughter was born at just 23 weeks, 1lb. She just turned 3, and is doing well but had a long bumpy road. With said, she has some visual impairments, mild cerebral palsy, and severe anxiety issues. We are four classes in now, and although my daughter cries each time we get to the school, the instructors (every single one) ALWAYS treat her like their own and take their time with her. She comes out of class so happy and oh so proud of herself! They do not treat her differently because of her impairments, they are all patient and kind, and above all understanding. We are BEYOND pleased with GEMA, and the staff to include the wonderful families we have met. Thank you GEMA for creating a better world for my daughter!

Marc Grenier reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

An awesome martial arts school that truly cares.

Hillary Hogan reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I have had a blast. I look forward to continuing to learn each form.

Sharon Takai reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

We love the instructors and family atmosphere! Thank you!

Kathryn Carson reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I've tried a bunch of martial arts over the years, but it wasn't until I got to Gentle East that I realized that the art itself doesn't matter so much--it's the attitude of its practitioners. These people aren't learning and teaching how to kill, but how to live. How to live despite trauma and illness, and to keep practicing their art even if it's just in their hearts. The tenets are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit, and they mean every word. They teach the kids that other dojangs won't. Autistic, physically challenged, special needs, you name it. They're fully engaged with the messy business of life. A whole lot of families are glad that Master Barbara Robinson followed her vision. Ours is one.

Melody D. Choate reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Love, love, love this place! The staff is incredibly kind and supportive, and the family atmosphere is palpable the moment you walk in the door! I am so impressed with the work being done with autism spectrum kids, as well as other kids with physical challenges. No one is made to feel like they don't belong here! I even joined the mommy class and my toddlers are allowed to run around us while we work out. I've lost a few pounds, and gained some amazing (non-judgemental) mom-friends! An oasis of kindness and support in the middle of what is often a 'keep up with the Jones's " area of town.

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Parenting Skills: ENDORPHINS: The Key to Effort and Focus in Children and Teens

ENDORPHINS
The Key to Effort and Focus in Children and Teens

Endorphins are natural chemicals produced in the body to reduce pain and boost happiness. They are most often associated with exercise since the release of these “feel-good” chemicals cause a state of euphoria and is usually known as a “runner’s high.” However, most any exercise will cause this state of happiness and it is also boosted through laughter and excitement.

In recent years, studies involving endorphins have begun to focus on how this chemical contributes to learning. Physical activity is essential to brain development. Basically, when we feel good, we learn better. Intellectually stimulating the brain when endorphins have been released, helps even more. For the last five years, neuroscientists have been encouraging parents and teachers to work on stimulating the good feeling chemicals in the brain. The mind-body connection is a powerful thing.

When working with children and teens, it’s important to remember this and help develop the whole self. By stimulating the positive neurotransmitters in the body, we will combat the cortisol and, therefore, have more happy children and teens. Physical activity leads to happiness, happiness leads to better learning, better learning leads to increased knowledge, increased knowledge leads to more confidence and so on.

Now that we understand the neuroscience surrounding endorphins, how can we, as parents, teachers, coaches, and anyone who works with children, use this information? We must create a learning environment that releases endorphins so that students apply more effort and are better able to focus.

Our martial arts program does this by teaching with the brain in mind and utilizing game-based learning. Along with this, two of the Teaching styles that are used in class are specifically designed to increase the students’ endorphin levels.

1) Up The Rep: The use of “up the rep” as a teaching skill in class helps the students have more energy throughout an exercise, which ultimately leads to them exhibiting more effort. For example, if students are practicing side kicks on a bag and they are told to do 50, the goal is for the 50th kick to be the best one. However, students often start out full speed and their energy depletes as they get closer to the 50th rep. The best thing to do is have them start out their reps easier and increase their power as they get to 50. That way they end with their best one yet! This gives the students a rush of endorphins and they finish the exercise feeling stronger.

2) Neurobics: The use of “neurobics” in class helps the students by increasing their neural stimulation and, therefore, they become more focused. For example, if the students are doing pushups, instead of counting to 10, count in colors or characters, or even count backwards. This will increase the neural firing in their brains and keeps their minds from wandering.

By utilizing these techniques, the endorphins in the students’ brains increase, and then they feel better and, therefore, learn better. The combination of having more energy and being cognitively stimulated leads to more effort and focus in their martial arts class and beyond!