A common trait amongst children who are slow to develop is poor hand eye coordination. For many years in my practice I have taken many different approaches to help kids improve their hand eye coordination in a fun and engaging manner. A few months ago I started experimenting with a new method that has proven to be very effective. I was reading about a new toy that was becoming increasingly popular in American high schools called a kendama. Kids were putting down their electronics and playing with this ancient Japanese toy instead. Having tested this over the last few months I am now adding it to my syllabus due to it’s effectiveness.
Kendama comes from the japanese word けん玉. Ken (けん) meaning wooden spike and tama (玉) meaning ball. The ken has three cups and a spike which fits into a hole in the ball. Records of Kendama in Japan date back to the early 1700s when it was played by adults as a drinking game. Hatsukaichi City in Hiroshima Prefecture
To play with a kendama one holds the ken and flicks the ball up with the aim of getting it to land on one of the three cups or to get the hole in the ball to land on the spike. More advanced tricks include juggling the ball from side to side, or throwing up and catching the ken before finishing the trick by catching the ball on the spike. The japanese kendama association has a list of 101 tricks to master ranging from beginner level or 10 kyu all the way up to advanced. However thousands of tricks are possible and each trick can have multiple grip and stance variations. In the trick moshikame (もしかめ) for example, the ball is juggled between the cup at the top and bottom in a continuous motion, there is even a popular children’s song to help with the timing.
Competitions take place regularly in Japan and are becoming increasingly popular in the western world. When participating in a kendama competition you are given a list of tricks that will need to be completed in succession. You perform head to head against other players and the first competitor to fail a trick loses.
Kendama is becoming so popular in the United States now that there are multiple companies springing up to keep up with the increasing demand. As there are now so many options available it can be difficult to decide on which kendama is best for your child’s needs. We reached out to the website kendama guide for some advice and they had this to say:
“There are a huge number of kendama brands available on the market today, some are hand crafted and some are painstakingly crafted by hand over many hours. I think the most important thing to consider when buying a kendama for your child is the price to quality ratio. Cheap wooden kendamas can splinter and ware very badly over time. Going for a high end kendama is also not a good idea as you should be able to complete all 101 tricks prescribed by the japanese kendama association before going this route. Therefore the best kendama for a beginner is a mid range kendama from a brand such as Sweets. One of their entry level kendama is more than sufficient for a beginner and the build quality means it will last a long time. If your child becomes an enthusiast then getting a Mugen Musou or other expert kendama can be worth the price tag, but is still by no means necessary.
Another type of kendama that is becoming increasingly popular is the kendama pill from Terra kendama. It is very similar to the kendama but consists of two pill capsules and no ball. If you decide to buy a kendama pill then we suggest going with Terra kendama as they are the inventors of it.”
If you want to find a fun and enjoyable toy that will get your kids away from their electronics and improve the concentration and hand eye coordination then a kendama is a great option!
Acne is an incredibly common skin condition affecting 80 to 90% of teenagers to some degree. We often get questions from parents asking how to effectively maintain a good relationship with their kids during this tough time. As their bodies undergo changes during their teenage years, teenagers become a lot more self conscious. This can lead to some teenagers become more reclusive as they are scared of being judged by their peers. It is important as a parent to never make you child feel like acne is their fault. Acne a this age is almost entirely due to hormones so there is little that can be done. As a parent you should try to continuously encourage your kid to continue doing the things they enjoy such as sport to ensure that they take their focus off their looks and focus on other outlets. Constantly remind them that looks are not nearly as important as society would lead you to believe and that having a strong sense of self and a passion for something is far more important. Fortunately however, there are somethings that can be done to reduce the severity of hormonal acne for teenagers. We spoke to the expert Dermatologists from dermatology Ireland and asked them to give us some advice. Dr. O’Connell gave said the following: “I trained in America but have been a dermatologist in Dublin for over 10 years now. When we have patients come in the first thing we do is ask them to fill out a questionnaire so we can get a better understanding of not only their lifestyle, but also their environmental factors. Over the years we have noticed a few commonalities between our patients.
1. They often place a lot of emphasis on their education. This is great, but around exam time especially they become very stressed and this can lead to an increase in cortisol. This can cause fluctuations in their hormones an lead to worsening. We suggest that parents try to not put too much pressure on their kids around exam time and remind them that a bad grade isn’t the end of the world.
2. They often have poor diets or have long breaks between their meals. There is a clear link between acne and diet. Avoiding processed foods such as sugar and flour as well as limiting salt intake can significantly reduce acne. This means forgoing chocolate, fast food and carbonated drinks which can be difficult for some teenagers. Packing your child a healthy lunch and cooking healthy meals at home can help combat this problem.
3. They have poor personal hygiene. Ensuring that your child showers daily, change clothes regularly, shower after sport and change their towels and bed sheets regularly can also have a positive effect. Acne is a result of the body producing excess sebum from skin pores. When too much sebum builds up it gets infected and results in acne. By taking the above steps you can reduce this build up. Washing your face multiple times a day can also be beneficial.
Although the above steps can help reduce the acne counts in our patients, we often use topical medications such a retin-a and hydrocortisone. In some cases we also suggest that the patient take isotretinoin or accutane as it is commonly referred to. This medication has gotten a bad reputation due to poor dosing guidelines in America but is actually quite safe when used in low doses over a prolonged period of time. Standard dosing used to be 0.5mg to 1g per kg in America, at our dermatology clinic in Dublin we often put patients on 0.1mg per kg. This means that a 70kg person would take a daily dose of 7mg a day instead of 35mg – 70mg a day. We started using this dosing as standard after a study was done that showed that 0.1mg was as effective as 1g per kg when taken over a prolonged period of time. Duration is dependent of how long it takes for the skin to respond to the medication but courses generally last for 6 – 8 months. The literature suggests that patients get a cumulative dose of 120mg per kg although this can take a long time on such a low dose so we suggest taking a second 6 -8 month course if needed instead of taking one longer course.
▪ Is your child between 3 and 12 years old?
▪ Is the relationship between you and your child not to your liking?
▪ Does you child take their education for granted?
▪ Are unsure about whether your educational approach is right for your child?
▪ Do you feel that your child is not comfortable in their own skin? ▪ Does your child not listen to you?
▪ Do you find it difficult to enjoy the time you spend with your child?
What is the Solution?
Children are diagnosed with mental health conditions far more frequently than you might think. The question most parents have though is what does one actually do after this diagnosis? A Pedagogic Coach can help you go through the literature and discuss with you, to what extent and in what way it applies to you and your own situation.
A Pedagogic Coach can guide you:
Education Coaching is a way for pedagogic Coach to connect with parents and to get them to understand the needs and abilities of their child. This gives you you a clear view of where the problems are with your child. For optimal development and a good relationship between parent and child, it is especially important both parent and child to understand eachother. A pedagogic coach can help you find an educational approach that fits your own needs and the needs of the child. Another approach can break patterns and offer a solution to the problems you are experiencing.
Family 1: Guus would not go to bed.
Mrs. Verweij joined the pedagogic Coach asking for help in raising her son. Each night they had problems putting their 5 year old son Guus to bed. As soon as they put him to bed and left the room he would get up and run around again. During the observations we noticed several things: there was no set bedtime routine, and Mrs. Verweij never discussed what was going to happen with Guus. As a result she had no grip on the situation and she was regularly tense and stressed from the moment Guus had to go to bed. This was probably also felt by Guus. Following advice from the Parenting Coach Mrs. Verweij introduced activities that helped Guus wind down before going to bed, a fixed bedtime routine and introduced a reward system that encouraged Guus to show more desired behavior. This gave both Mrs. Verweij and Guus peace and clarity and there was less and less conflict. The reward scheme helped Mrs. Verweij reward Guus for appropriate behaviour. Some of these steps were also be applied to other aspects of Mrs. Verweij’s parenting routine.
Family 2: Tantrums – Where do they Come From?
Mr. and mrs. Laak came to the Parentig Coach to learn to deal with the tantrums that their 6-year-old Fleur was having. Fleur had been throwing tantrums a few times a day for the last few years and her parents had no idea why. Her parents had always hoped that Fleur would grow out of these tantrums as she got older but that was unfortunately not the case. Fleur regularly ruined the atmosphere for the entire family, including during trips and vacations. During tantrums Fleur would scream, stuff was destroyed or she would lash out at others. Her parents also said she would refuse to listen to them while these tantrums were happening. Penalties that her parents introduced did nothing to reduce the number of tantrums she had. Remarkably there were very few issues between Fleur and her peers at school. During observations we noticed that the tantrums usually occurred at moments of change. Tantrums happened mostly on weekends and on days when there was an unexpected visitor. Exciting times like holidays and birthdays were also a cause for extra tantrums. When Fleur was playing and had to come to the table for dinner there was often a huge battle between her and her parents.
Fleur was a restless and easily distracted. The parents were initially advised by the Parenting Coach to work with pictograms to make Fleur’s daily routine clear and predictable to her. Especially during weekends and holidays this gave Fleur a lot of overview and tranquility. If her parents inform her of the change 5 minutes before eating then there is less of an issue when Fleur has to sit down. If a tantrum occurs the parents have learned how to respond effectively.
Because the tantrums still occurred regularly, the parenting coach advised the parents to have Fleur examined. After extensive investigation Fleur was diagnosed with PDD-NOS and ADHD. With the help of the parenting coach the parents have learned about the limitations surrounding these conditions and we have created an approach to match the capabilities of Fleur. The insight into the behavior of Fleur has helped the parents to adjust their expectations and enjoy more positive moments.