Social Glue - Utilizing Oxytocin to Strengthen Connection | Gentle East Martial Arts
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Our Physical DOORS and DIGITAL DOORS are OPEN! Secure your spot & get started today with our FREE EXCLUSIVE online offer!

By opting into the web form above you are providing consent for Gentle East Martial Arts to send you periodic text messages. Standard rates may apply. You can reply HELP at anytime or learn more. You may opt-out anytime by replying STOP.
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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!

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An awesome martial arts school that truly cares.

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

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We love the instructors and family atmosphere! Thank you!

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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
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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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Social Glue – Utilizing Oxytocin to Strengthen Connection

Oxytocin or the “love chemical” is released when we feel love. And while it is generally associated with the parent-child bond and more in-depth relationships, it also plays a significant role in making human connections. With all the stress and pressures of the world today, many children go through life feeling that they need to get better and better and that their efforts never seem to be enough. What they need, however, is to develop a healthy oxytocin response, which comes from feeling affection and attachment. This can come from the way important adults in their lives interact with them daily.

Although it is naturally occurring in the body, the release of oxytocin is not an automatic reaction. It is, instead, a learned response. Therefore, it’s vital for children to develop it and establish strong bonds in the early years of their life. When they don’t, the fight or flight response becomes the norm for them, which inhibits their release of oxytocin and decreases their ability to calm down. This is often why children who are abused or neglected have difficulty managing strong emotions. Oxytocin is essentially an anti-stress chemical and it has lasting benefits on children who receive love and trust from adults in their lives.

The positive feelings that come from the release of oxytocin help children to feel more secure, which leads to a more positive self-image and increased empathy towards others. And although oxytocin is most often related to more intimate relationships, teachers, coaches, and anyone else who works with children can also facilitate healthy oxytocin responses. By building rapport with each child and creating learning environments that are supportive and nurturing, we can focus on ways to increase children’s “social satisfaction.” This will ultimately create an upward spiral of positive social relationships.

As an innovative child development program, the Skillz methodology we utilize was developed after years of research in the areas of science and psychology. This game-based learning approach teaches with the brain in mind. Instructors are trained in these areas and certain techniques used in the classroom are specifically designed to improve the oxytocin response system in children. This helps to increase social skills and improve empathetic responses. A teaching tactic such as “Healthy Competition” creates a “tribe” feeling among students and reinforces trust in relationships. Gentle East also provides information to parents on the best methods for enhancing the parent-child bond.

As children grow, it’s beneficial for adults to be knowledgeable of the varying aspects of childhood development. And while the release of oxytocin is a learned response, the important thing to know is that our brains can develop this at any age. It can take patience and time, especially for children who have had fewer opportunities for healthy connections early in life, but the benefits will be enormous. By immersing children in environments that foster trust, this process will become easier. Even the smallest of friendly interactions such as warm smiles, fist bumps, and high fives can release oxytocin.