Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

I was reading an article this morning about how the human brain rewards negative thinking. It explained that as a natural defense mechanism, our brains are wired to reward the negative thoughts with a rush of dopamine.

Paying attention to the negative is what has kept the human race alive. The article made the comparison of stopping to smell the roses or paying attention to the tiger stalking you behind the roses. The negative was rewarded in your brain as a feedback loop to keep you alive. The brain’s default position is negative. The article explained how happiness took effort. Happiness definitely is not the default setting of our brain. You have to get out and experience life. You have to make the effort to be a part of something.
I’ve learned just coasting through your day doing the things you have to do definitely doesn’t make you happy. You have to experience more of life than just working and going home and watching TV.

I am the father of two boys and have a wonderful wife. I feel like I owe it to them to give them life experiences. My oldest, eleven, is very active in sports and school. He also trains in jiu Jitsu with me. The little one is only three, but when we are training he is right there with us. Giving them experience also means preparing them for life. As a western society we tend to think our school system prepares our kids for life. It does only to a point, but it is up us to prepare them. Ok that is a topic for another day, but I want to get back to happiness. It is a simple formula. Happiness is doing.

The more I learn about how the brain operates, the more I believe happiness lies in the zero mind. If you are not familiar with the concept, the zero mind is what people refer to when you talk about someone being in the zone. Happiness is in the zone. Happiness is about doing activities that are fun and stimulating to your brain. Since the brain defaults to the negative, the only way to combat this is keep it busy. You turn off the negative by being in the moment. For me, this happens anytime I am working out or at jiu Jitsu class, or playing with my kids. Jiu Jitsu Class is a place of zero mind for me. It is a place I lose myself from the everyday. I am happy in the doing. My brain is shut off from the negative and the nowness of jiu Jitsu is the only thing that fills it. The doing is what shuts off the negative from your brain. Whatever your zero mind activity is get out there and do it. Get your wife, your girlfriend, and your kids out there doing something. You brain will thank you for it. You kids and your significant other will also. Don’t forget to get your family involved. Spend time doing. Shut of the negative and be in the zero.


I noticed something with my son this year during wrestling season. He was just not as strong as the other kids his size. I first chalked it up to him taking a year off from wrestling. Then I started to realize it just wasn’t the lay off from wrestling. It was his lay off of just about all sports and activities, since playing baseball at the beginning of last summer. To take it even further it was his new obsession with a video game called Minecraft and a couple of others. Which I understand the video game obsession I spent many a night hunting bad guys on, insert popular fps of the time. As much as I understand his video game obsession, I know too that he spends way too much time playing it. With school, homework, chores, and then videogames, he has stopped being physical. He stopped going outside and playing. As a parent I feel like I didn’t do my job and make him turn the game off and go out and play. I am not with his mother so he lives about 45 minutes away. This has made parenting so much more difficult. I don’t know if this is why I missed this or I just could hear my parents telling me turn off my Nintendo and go outside.
Now that I know what one of the issues is, I want to correct it. I don’t want to be one of those crazy parents that you see on some horrible reality show, pushing their kids to beyond reason, but I want to make a change for the better. Now how do I get my son to be competitive without enrolling him in boot camp. Time to start with some stealth parenting.
Here are some stealth ways to disconnect your kid from the TV, Xbox, or computer.
1. Get them out of the house. How you say. Take them to the park. I can’t tell you how good of a workout you can get by playing on a jungle gym. Climbing, running, jumping is about as athletic as you can get.
2. Play a sport with your kids. Get outside and play ball. It does not matter what sport with a ball. Baseball, football, basketball, it does not matter.
3. Go bike riding. This is one of our favorite things to do with the kids. I have mentioned my eleven year, but I have a three year old also who absolutely loves to ride on the back of a bike.
4. Go for a hike. Find a good nature trail and plan a day. Picnic, hike, have fun. Most state conservation websites give you all the info you need to find a great nature outing.
5. Go to the beach, a lake, or river. Swimming is a great exercise. See number 2. Play ball at the beach.

Ok these are just a few of the things you can do to get your kid in shape. The plus, if your are out there doing these things, you will also get the added bonus of getting in better shape. Now these all seem like warm weather activities, and yes for the most part they are. You just have to be more creative when the weather is bad. Locally we have a place with a warehouse full of bounce houses. Two or three hours and your kids will crash out as soon as they get home. You just have to find things that are fun and physical.
The biggest advice I can give, if you want to get your kids that edge in competition, is get out and play with them. Disconnect them from the Xbox and yourself from the TV or computer. Get outside and play, don’t just watch them. Play with them. If you don’t they will end up right back playing computer legos, while the other kids get stronger. Go play with your kids. I know I will be. Stealth is the key.

A glimpse into being a dad

Posted: March 15, 2013 in Kids
Tags: , , , , ,

    I get to do one of the things I enjoy the most in the world. I get to help coach my son’s wrestling team. This is one of the best and hardest things about being a dad. The thrill to help and guide one of your children is priceless. But it does come with a price tag. Instead of being able to twist in your seat from the bleachers, you now have a literal ringside seat. You don’t have any control on the outcome and you can now see it with a brutal closeness. The winning is great, but if he loses that is heartbreaking.

            My son has been a pretty good wrestler and just a pretty good athlete since he started playing pee wee sports. I have always been there to support him but never push him into any sport that he did not want to do. I was super excited when told me he wanted to wrestle again this year. He took last year off from wrestling. He is now eleven and had started wrestling at 5 years old. I was disappointed last year, but I understood. Wrestling is a hard sport. You have a team, but they don’t go on the mat with you. I have always thought wrestling is one of those sports that really teaches you good life lessons. It teaches you discipline how to handle adversity, respect, humility, and sportsmanship.  There is a level of comrade in wrestling unlike most sports. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “He who sheds his blood with me shall become my brother.” This is my all time favorite quote from Henry V.  Besides my son’s natural aptitude for the sport, I was glad he was a part of it just for those lessons. My son is a typical 11 year old; if he happens to lose a match it is the end of the world.  I always tell him two things anytime this happens. The first is no excuses. It happened, let’s learn from it and move on. The second I always ask, did he try his hardest? If he says he did I am just as proud as if he went out and pinned his guy.  The lessons are hammered in with the adversity. You always learn more from a loss than a win, and eventually everyone loses.

            I remember when I was growing up doing the same things my son is now doing. My dad was always there helping coach. Those are my fondest memories growing up. My dad always there for me win or lose. These are the things I want my son to have. I want him to grow up to be a good man, with a childhood of fond memories. I want him to look back and feel the love for me as I do for my dad. I never gave it much thought as I kid because I never knew it any other way, but my dad spending all that time right there was worth its weight in gold.  This is the advice I give to any dad, be apart of your kids activities. I remember my dad helping coach one of my little league soccer teams. He never even kicked a soccer ball before that, but I remember him studying soccer how to books so he would know.  That is something to be admired, now that I am a father. I understand the importance of those simple acts. I hope to give this to my son. To teach him to be a better man and be a great father someday.  I know I would not be where I am today if it hadn’t been for my dad to taking the time to be a part of it all.

The darkside of the force is very strong. My eleven year old son was competing in a wrestling match for his wrestling club, and course, I believe my son will be the next Cael Sanderson. Well I can hope but, he does have an affinity for wrestling. He has amassed a very good record over the last six years. He did take off last year from wrestling and is just a little rusty starting off this first competition. He goes out and wins his first match. Im now thinking alright he got back on the horse and he will breeze thru the night. Then he runs into his first hiccup. The second match is going great, he takes the kid down and manhandles him the whole first period. Second period, he comes out tries a takedown gets stuck under his opponent, gets turned, and gets pinned. Im ready for what comes next. Ive coached a lot of young kids wrestling. A loss is usually taken in one of two ways. Either they come off the mat like, oh well, they smile and go on their way. Or they come off the mat just how I expected my son to, like they just lost the Olympic gold medal match. As a competitor and coach I understand this feeling. You only get this in combat sports. There is something that bares you soul to everyone when you lose in one of these sports. There is no team only you on the mat. I expected him to be upset. Here is were I knew the turn was coming. I knew he had to wrestle again tonight. Which means as a coach I knew I had to get him ready to go back on the mat with the possibility of this pain happening again. He came to me in almost tears. “Dad my stomach hurts. I told you it hurt before the match.” He did tell me his stomach was bothering him, but I cut him off. I told him son losses happen, but we have to keep moving on to the next match. No excuses. He did his best that was ok with me. I knew he was scared to get back on the mat again. I knew he was scared after his first match, when he told me his stomach hurt. Ive seen the same thing in full grown fighters Ive coached. He was planting the seed of an excuse. His first match he won, but not the convincing way he was used to. He took a year off but the other wrestlers did not. I saw the doubt creep up in him. Fear is a super powerful motivator and demotivator. He was sitting at edge of the mat getting ready for his last match. I asked did that loss make him angry. He said yes. I could still hear the doubt and fear hanging at the corners of his voice. I told him use that anger, use that fear. I told him go out there put this kid on his back and stick him. I could tell this fired him up. He walked back on to mat with a swagger. The whistle blew, he locked up, threw the kid and pinned him in less than fifteen seconds.
I didn’t even think about what I had done until later that night. I had just assumed the role of Emperor Palpatine talking to a young Anakin Skywalker. I just told my son to use the dark side. To embrace his anger, let it fill him, let it make him strong. Ok that might be a little over the top, but I did try to turn his fear and anger into a tool he could use. Does that mean he would be angry for every match. No probably not. Does this type of motivation help or hurt someone his age. I think motivation has to be unique to the situation and to the person. This might not work the next time, but I will definitely be putting this Jedi trick in my tool box and embrace the darkside again when needed.