Are You Parenting ‘The Dolphin Way’?

Many of the prevalent parenting styles today describe parents that “take over.” Whether it is the Tiger parent pushing piano, the Helicopter parent hovering over homework, the Bubble Wrap parent over-protecting, or the Snow-Plough parent shoving all obstacles out of the way — all of these models create an environment of external control and thereby diminish a child’s sense of internal control and self-motivation. Thus, I call ALL these styles “Tiger parents” because they are all authoritarian in nature. Children of such authoritarian tiger parents are at higher risk of anxiety, depression, entitlement, poor decision making, and difficulty establishing healthy independence.

On the other extreme, permissive Jellyfish parents’ lack rules, discipline, and expectations. Children of Jellyfish parents may turn to peers for guidance and fail to develop self-control. They are at higher risk of poor social skills, risk-taking behaviors, and substance abuse. Many modern parents flip-flop between Tiger and Jellyfish leaving their child with no consistent message.

The Dolphin Way is an intuitive approach that uses role modelling, guiding, and a healthy lifestyle to help children develop internal control and self-motivation. The Dolphin Way has two distinct parts: 1) A balanced authoritative parent-child relationship and 2) a balanced lifestyle, including what many of today’s kids are missing-play and exploration, a sense of community and contribution, and the basics of regular sleep, exercise, and rest. The very basics of Dolphin POD technique and it’s life skill program. These are the things Dolphins do every day that keep them healthy, happy, and motivated!

We all feel more motivated when we have had some sleep vs. being sleep deprived, I still spend a lot of time prescribing sleep to kids and parents alike. Other intrinsic motivators like play, exploration, social bonding, and helping others may be less obvious but they are just as effective in bringing us that sense of well-being.

Parents must stop overscheduling, overprotecting, and being over-competitive to allow their children the time and space to activate their own intrinsic motivators.

The Dolphin Way is based on the neuroscience of how the human brain works so if you are a human, it is guaranteed to work! Here are some guiding principles.

The Seven Guiding Principles of the Dolphin Way:

1. All parents love their children, but not all are bonded to their children. Bonding means seeing and knowing children for who they really are as individuals. Dolphin parents know the most effective and powerful parenting tool.

2. Dolphin parents are not authoritarian pushing parents or hovering Tiger parents (who stifle internal motivation) nor are we permissive spineless Jellyfish (who fail to cultivate impulse control),we recognize we are authority figures and use guidance, role modelling, and a balanced lifestyle to ensure the development of internal motivation, impulse control, and independence.

3. Dolphin parents know that health always comes first and thus we make a balanced lifestyle a priority. We do not compromise balance for anything and we bring back the three things many of today’s kids are missing. These can be remembered through P.O.D. = free unstructured Play, a sense of connection and contribution to Others, and Downtime of rest and sleep.

4. Dolphin parents do not live in fear of modern day pressures and we do not over-gather, over-protect, and over-compete. We believe life is a journey through ever-changing waters and cultivate internal motivation and the ability to adapt to navigate the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing 21st century.

5. Dolphin parents value IQ, EQ and especially CQ. CQ is the integration of IQ and EQ and are the core 21st century skills of creativity, communication, collaboration, contribution and critical thinking — all needed to constantly adapt for lifelong health, happiness, and success. Dolphin POD focuses on the development of these 5 Consciousness quotient skills.

6. Dolphin parents are holistic in our parenting. We look inward towards our intuition for answers and we also we seek knowledge and learn from others. We make decisions that “feel right” for our families and not because of “what everyone else is doing”.

7. Dolphin parents have the highest of expectations for our children and intend to guide them towards health, happiness, and a balanced life with meaning and purpose.

Although The Dolphin Way is called a “parent’s guide,” any human can benefit from it. The metaphor of the overbearing Tiger, permissive Jellyfish, and collaborative Dolphin can be applied to any interpersonal interaction — including the workplace. The neuroscience of how the human brain is naturally motivated is something that anyone can benefit from, and is something I speak frequently about at corporations, banks, and businesses. In a fast paced, ultra-competitive, and globally connected 21st century world, The Dolphin Way provides us the tools to stay balanced and acquire creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking (CQ) – these skills are the key essentials for futuristic leaders. Dolphin POD works in collaboration to aim at a holistic development of kids and a guide to parents.

Downtime: Is your Child Getting Enough Real Downtime?

Children’s lives these days are fast-paced. With the increase in technology and various electronic gadgets, they no longer know how to give rest to their brain. Even in the free time, children of the 21st century indulge themselves with Xbox, mobiles, tablets or watching TV.
But where is the downtime? The time to just relax and enjoy their own company?

For most kids, life is far too fast-paced and overscheduled. They’re juggling homework, extracurricular activities, play dates and birthday parties.
And when a parent is told that their child needs downtime, the response usually is he is getting enough of it. He plays video games 2 hours or watches TV.
The surprise for most parents is, that this is not actually downtime. When a child is sitting in front of the screen or is indulged in games, he/she is still making optimum use of his critical thinking, problem solving and reasoning. The mind is still at work. This is one of the reasons that a child is unable to sleep properly or be attentive because scientifically brain needs time to be idle and kids are missing out on that aspect these days. The activity that they partake in are over exhausting rather than calming and the wavelength from them triggers the mind to stay active than retire.

Children these days are often bored easily because of their innate need to do something at all times. Practically proven that if a child is being asked to sit idle for 5mins that is the most difficult task to accomplish. Children need a little time with themselves in order to understand their emotions. Only when they understand it will they be able to comprehend and manage it.

Children nowadays are at higher risk of anxiety and depression due to lack of relaxation time. Kids – and especially teens – aren’t adept at regulating their own time, often sleeping too little and packing in too many activities. True downtime is an important opportunity to de-stress and relax.

Everything these days has become structured even the play. Kids have lost the sense of taking up tasks which has no instructions but are for the wellbeing. It is very important for the child to indulge in unstructured quiet times to understand their traits and nature in order for a brain development and emotional wellbeing.
If you see your child sleeping less, or having a lot of tantrums or is lazy, or moody, then it is time for you to re-evaluate his downtime to help him feel calm, happy and relaxed.

We at Dolphin POD, give immense focus on Downtime Activities which will help kids be successful, self-motivated with ease and no stress making them realize their potential to be great visionaries.

Want Successful Kids? Teach Them Gratitude

What are you grateful for today? This is the question I try to ask my three children before I tuck them into bed at night.

When I was younger, my mother established the same bedtime routine. Some nights I was more grateful than others, but the question always challenged me to think deeply about the positive aspects of my life. As the youngest of five children in a “non-privileged” immigrant family, everything I owned was a hand-me-down, so I learned to be grateful for other non-material things: a loving family, sincere friendships, inspiring siblings, helpful mentors and connection to my community. The powerful dialogue my mother and I generated about gratitude is among the keys to happiness and self-motivation. These discussions taught me how to count my blessings rather than add up to my problems.

Continuing with this bedtime tradition, my hope is to inspire my kids and the other kids at Dolphin POD centre the attitude for gratitude. I hope to teach them that gratitude is more than just saying “please” and “thank you.” Gratitude involves personal values, beliefs and the expression of appreciation toward others and the world we live in. Unfortunately many of today’s children do not grow up in environment that fosters important lessons about gratitude.

According to a national survey on gratitude commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation, gratitude levels are declining. A whopping 60 per cent of people are less likely to express gratitude than 100 years ago. Sadly, the national survey also indicates that 18- to 24-year-olds were less likely to express gratitude than any other age group and when they did display signs of appreciation, it was usually for self-serving reasons.

The Cisco Connected World Technology Report found one-third of college students were more grateful for their mobile devices than their access to food, shelter, or safety. When youth find value for their iPhones, MacBook Pros and GPS systems more than the necessities for survival, we can understand how the term “Generation Entitled” came to be.

Why are children becoming more entitled and less grateful? Perhaps, it’s because children are growing up without really knowing what gratitude is. In the national survey, 8-10 per cent of respondents indicated that no one has ever taught them the meaning of gratitude. Research shows that a child’s gratitude has its roots in a nurturing family environment. Given this, a good question for parents is: Is gratitude an attitude you are promoting for your child?

Let’s think of the perfectionistic “tiger” parent for a moment. I think it would be difficult to foster gratitude in an over-scheduled, over-competitive, and “#1 at all costs” tiger environment. Tiger parenting tendencies of building a child’s “outside” (i.e. external resume) take priority to developing the child’s “inside” (internal character and values). Can you imagine the tiger parent telling their child to not focus on the results of a task (i.e. winning the piano recital) but to have gratitude for the opportunity to learn to play music? As an adolescent psychiatrist, I’ve worked in sessions with countless kids who have achieved their cherished external goals, such as acceptance into a dance academy, sports team, or college of “their choice”– but whose lives are utterly devoid of internal joy. They tell me they feel that they’re just going through the motions of life for a fixed result, not living the journey of life. POD sessions help children understand that internal satisfaction is the most important aspect of life and with internal peace we lead a happier, successful and sustainable external living.

Throughout my new book, The Dolphin Way: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Self-Motivated Kids Without Turning Into a Tiger (Penguin Books), I show that instead of pushing towards “the best of everything,” let’s equip our children with the attributes they need to be self-motivated for health, happiness, and success. Time magazine did a comprehensive review of the subject of gratefulness and concluded that the scientifically proven benefits are many, such as better sleep, less depression, better ability to cope with stress and an improved sense of social relationships and happiness. At Dolphin POD centre, we use these tools for emotional wellbeing of the kids and to teach the kids importance of being grateful.

Create gratitude journals. A gratitude journal is a wonderful and scientifically proven way to guide your child towards health, happiness, and internal motivation. Kids proved me wrong and over the years, I have seen first-hand how a gratitude journal has been a consistently effective tool to shift kids thinking from negative to positive.

Role model and guide towards gratefulness. Remember the bedtime tradition I mentioned before? This is just one way to display and guide towards gratefulness. Discuss and share the things you are grateful for with your children. Write thank you cards, phone friends on their birthdays, and model other small acts of kindness in front of your children. Modelling gratitude will show your kids some of the ways gratitude can be expressed personally and towards others.

Serve others. A contribution to one’s community is a powerful tool for health, happiness, and self-motivation and I use it in my sessions. There is a reason why it feels so good to give. Connecting, sharing, and giving all stimulate happy hormones in our neural circuits.

Your role as a parent has a major impact on your child’s understanding of the word gratitude. Take the time to reflect on your own attitude of gratitude and how you project your views onto your children. If you think you are taking gratitude for granted, ask yourself the same question my mother asked me and I ask children: What are you grateful for today? Being grateful is one of the major aspect of POD sessions.