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Resilience: How It’s Developed in Kids and How It Can Affect Their Adult Lives Positively

Resilience is the ability to overcome difficulties and return to a homeostatic state, i.e. return to a state of balance, in the face of adversities – and it can be developed from childhood. In our adult life, resilience is important to overcome life’s obstacles in a clever and kind way to yourself. 

The story Fatima, from Truth and Tales, tells the life of Fatima, the main character who goes through many hurdles but always picks herself up and dusts herself off to continue on her path. The story doesn’t talk about resilience in itself, but it’s one of Fatima’s predominant traits, showing how she handles hard times, tragedies and frustrations while persisting to pursue her goals at the same time.

Let’s understand more about resilience? We have based our article on several materials from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child.

What Is Resilience

Resilience can be defined as “a good outcome in the face of adversity”. Linda C. Mayes is a professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology in the Yale School of Medicine. Linda defines resilience as the “ability or set of capacities for positive adaptation, allowing you to keep in balance”.

We are all born with the ability to be resilient, but since it’s a skill, it needs to be developed. Resilience is built over time just like our brain’s architecture is formed. It’s an individual skill, but it requires interaction between people and the child and the overall community. Resilience needs several factors in order to be developed: responsive relationships, safe community, qualified parents or legal guardians, healthy diets, etc. 

:: Read Also: School Adaptation: How to Prepare Kids and Parents ::

How It Is Developed 

To understand the development of resilience in a more precise way, let’s imagine a seesaw whose base, which is usually fixed in the center, can now move and slide to the left or to the right. On one side of the seesaw, there are protective experiences and skills to face challenges (which help us overcome periods of stress); on the other side, there are adversities. 

Resilience is evident when the child’s health and development tend to yield positive outcomes, even when a load of factors is piled on top of the adversities side of the seesaw. Over time, the cumulative positive impacts of our life experiences and our ability to face challenges are able to move the position of the seesaw’s base, which starts to slide closer to the adversity side, making it easier to reach positive outcomes. 

The most common factor for kids to develop resilience is by having at least one stable and committed relationship with their parents, caregivers or other adults. These relationships provide the base, protection and everything that is necessary to develop the responsive ability  according to the moment’s need. This alleviates the kids’ halt in development. 

They also build key abilities – such as to plan, monitor and regulate behaviors – which allow children to respond adaptively to adversities and, still, prosper. This combination of supportive relationships, the development of adaptive skills and positive experiences are the foundations of resilience. 

Kids who handle difficulties well are usually resilient to adversity and have strong relationships with important adults in their family and in the community where they live. Resilience is the outcome of a combination of protection factors. Alone, not even individual traits or social environments can guarantee positive outcomes for children who go through long periods of toxic stress. It’s the interaction between biology and the environment that builds the kids’ ability to handle adversity and overcome threats and guides them towards a healthy development. 

Is Resilience Just for Kids?

The abilities related to resilience can be strengthened at any age. The brain and other biological systems are more adaptable in the beginning of life. While its development establishes the bases for a wide range of resilient behaviors, it’s never too late to build resilience. 

Activities that promote health and are age appropriate can significantly improve the chances of recovery of an individual whose experiences are stress-inducing. 

For example, regular physical exercise, stress-reducing practices, and activities that actively build executive functioning and self-regulating skills improve both children and adults’ ability to handle, adapt to, and even prevent the adversities that can happen throughout life. 

Adults who strengthen these skills in themselves may even serve as role models and show healthy behaviors in a more effective way to their kids, thus improving the next generation’s resilience. 

Fatima’s Resilience

In the face of the mishaps that occurred throughout Fatima’s life – which is a character from one of the Truth and Tales’ stories – many people can interpret that she is a poor thing persecuted by bad luck and a victim of so many tragedies. However, Fatima demonstrates a lot of power and wisdom by facing and overcoming these obstacles. Her ability to bounce back from all the challenges, despite the pain, exhaustion and adversity, is the result of resilience. 

Stories that are filled with challenges and frustrations are important for kids to have contact with adversity without living them in their own skin. This helps to prepare them to face challenging situations in the context of their own lives. 

Text: Luisa Scherer

Translation: Mariana Gruber

References:

Resilence – Center on the Developing Child – Harvard University

In Brief: What is Resilience? – Center on the Developing CHild – Harvard University

Stress and Resilience: How Toxic Stress Affects Us, and What We Can Do About It – Center on the Developing Child – Harvard University

School Adaptation: How to Prepare Kids and Parents

Many things we go through during our childhood mark our memories, and the first day of school can be one of them, to the kids as well as to the parents.

The school adaptation stage involves not only knowledge related to education and relationship building but also lots of learning and development for the kids. 

Everything is new and, to many families, their kids’ going to school means the experience of living in a context different from before, which used to be formed only by the small nuclear family and friends. 

Considering all this transformation, it’s not just the kids that go through the process of adaptation. Parents also face emotions they hadn’t experienced before. 

In this article, we are going to share a few essential tips on how to prepare for the first time going to school. Keep reading!

Parents Preparation

The pedagogue Paula Strano, one of the founders of the platform Read the World (freely translated from “Ler o Mundo”), talked about the importance of also understanding the adult side of school adaptation (more specifically the mother’s) in an article published by the magazine IstoÉ.

“The process brings great expectations, mainly because of the mothers, who we should strive to understand and be welcoming so that it all runs smoothly, in the best possible way. I mean the best possible way because each adaptation process is unique, each child has their own time and this is the first important issue of this reflection.”

Family therapist and co-owner of Blueprint Mental Health, Michele Levin, in an interview to Healthline, also explained this process for the parents. 

“It’s normal for parents to have a tough time transitioning themselves when their kids begin kindergarten. For a lot of families, this is the first time experiencing losing some control.”

Therefore, the difficulties may be relative to their worries about their kids facing this new reality or to their insecurities about how this process is going to be. The therapist explains that some parents may need more support than others to adjust to the change. In this sense, if you’re a parent or caretaker who’s experiencing this situation and relates to it, the first and foremost thing to do is talk about this subject before anything else. 

Talking to other parents who are going through the same thing and understanding how the school dynamics work are some measures that can make parents feel safer and calmer at this moment. 

:: You may also like: Empathy: What it Is, How it Manifests and How to Recognize it in Kids ::

School Adaptation for Younger Kids

With young kids, it’s worth taking them to the school before the first day of class so that you can participate by showing them around the place, playing with them and getting to know some of the school employees without the pressure of having other kids around and classes about to begin. 

When classes in fact start, keep in mind that your kids may still not have developed their notion of time completely. Sentences like “mommy is right here, we’ll see each other later” may mean nothing to little kids, due to the simple fact that they don’t understand the meaning of “later”. They can only understand that their parents aren’t with them, and that scares them. 

According to Luiza Elena L. Ribeiro do Valle, who is a psychologist and Master in School and Educational Psychology, “early childhood education is a stage of great learning skills development because, in this period, the emergence of neural connections speeds up a lot, creating the personality that is going to ineradicably keep impressions… Which can be good, right? Little kids absorb changes easily and repeat behaviors like social mirrors. We hope they see humanism, collaboration and mutual support, including between parents and the school,” she explains

We must also remember that children only start to understand the sequence of week days clearly between the ages of 4 and 5. Therefore, if your kids are younger than that, it’s not worth talking to them about school before it happens, because they probably won’t understand it. It could cause unnecessary anxiety and do more harm than good. 

Going to school is a big change in younger children’s routines. New relationships are created with their classmates, teachers and other school employees, relationships that didn’t exist before. 

Kids also start living in a new environment with very different rules from the ones they were used to and this transition can be different according to each child. 

Cisele Ortiz, psychologist and coordinator of the Avisa Lá Institute, in São Paulo, in an interview to the Portal Nova Escola (freely translated to “New School Portal”), suggested that there isn’t a set amount of time for this transition. “Overall, the initial period of adaptation lasts between one or two weeks, but it depends on the kid, the family and their previous experiences related to the separations we face in life.” 

Saying Goodbye During School Adaptation 

Saying goodbye in school is usually hard, both for the kids and the parents. Many adults wait for the kid to be distracted before leaving the place, but this can cause the little ones a lot of discomfort. 

Cisele even explains that saying goodbye is fundamental to the adaptation: 

“As hard and painful as it is for both, building a relationship with your children based on trust and honesty is always better. The clarity of saying goodbye is healthy and necessary.” 

The younger kids’ adaptation to school varies according to each one, but parents need to know that, at first, it may be necessary for them to stay with their kids in the classroom. It could be the whole day or just half of it: this need is going to be determined by the child. You let your presence peter out as your kid starts to feel more and more confident. 

“In preschool, children are eager to make friends, they can communicate well and have more autonomy,” explains Cisele. Their adaptation is usually smoother and it can be done in small groups of two to three kids to make their integration easier. All the same, the presence of their families shouldn’t be dismissed. On the first few days, they can help the little ones acquaint themselves with the place and with the pace of the activities. 

Time to Say Goodbye

The ideal is finding the middle ground between saying goodbye like it’s a big event and sneaking out during the adaptation period.

Marcia Tosin is a psychologist who specializes in behavioral psychotherapy and the founder of the “Neuro-compatible” Movement, an activist movement for child development that gathers parents and professionals interested in the ideal conditions for the human brains to develop and function.

It’s based on science: Evolutionary Psychology, Anthropology and Neurobiology. In her Instagram, which has more than 800 thousand followers, Márcia says we don’t need to trick kids, but it’s also not necessary to perform a farewell ritual. 

“… The helplessness reaction felt by the children is due to a really old brain’s answer which destabilizes without the reference figure, and not because they weren’t “warned” that you would leave.” 

Marcia proposes an exercise to better understand how our brain works: imagine that you, an adult, is going to have an invasive surgery. Despite knowing that only 0,9% of the people who undergo this surgery die, your brain says that you are going to be a part of this statistic. This happens because our brain’s compass is always pointing at risks. Your doctor may flood you with useful information and tell you many things to try to calm you down, but the limbic system works alone and leads you towards the worst result. 

Another example is when we are alone at home and hear a noise. It may be completely riskless, but our brains warn us that it could be a predator. 

“It prepares you for the worst: it takes blood away from the extremities so that if the predator rips out your hand you don’t bleed to death; it raises your hairs so that you look bigger; it increases your blood flow in the regions that you need it to fight or flight; it secretes sweat so that you’re more slippery and in order to stabilize your temperature; you’ll get more breathless to increase your oxygen disposal. We have a body that acts before you think. 

The first couple of times kids stay in the school alone, this system is triggered – therefore they cry. This system works regardless of what parents say. School adaptation exists to calm this state of response. There isn’t only one model of school adaptation, but it’s necessary to know that this system exists. It’s not “whining” or lack of frustration.”

In terms of the parents’ nerves or anxiety being a hindrance to their kids’ adaptation to school, Marcia explains that it does not in fact get in the way – quite on the contrary, it protects it. “We have to believe that parents suffer from leaving their kids and there’s nothing wrong with that.” 

Mind the Signs During School Adaptation 

If kids cry constantly when it’s time to go to school, or if there are other signs of extreme anguish, parents need to be cautious. Marcia Tosin used her Instagram account to talk about this issue. 

“You shouldn’t attribute ‘problem’ causes to these behaviors. It would increase parents’ guilt. They are simply little people who need more time to form attachment and feel safe in this transition.” 

Pedagogue Ana Paula Yazbek, writer of UOL’s Portal Papo de Mãe column, also wrote about the subject. 

“Each kid and family experience this period in their own way. There are children who get very excited on the first few days and that, as they realize that being in school means being away from home, start to refuse to go and feel strange. Others may seem unaware of their surroundings, as if they’re only waiting for the time to go home. There are also kids who display an eagerness for new experiences and who pay very little attention to their family when they have to say goodbye. 

Dubiousness is inherent to the adaptation process. On the same day there could be progress and setbacks in the safety felt by both the kids and their parents; it’s up to the institutions to offer support so that the trust bond is established progressively.” 

When it comes to bigger kids, the adaptation may also require some care since they feel insecure and miss their parents the same as the younger ones. 

Reminding children that you can go back to school to pick them up or call them so they hear your voice are measures that can be reassuring and calming for them during this adaptation period. Bringing an object to school that smells like their parents for when kids are missing them can also be helpful. 

When questioning about your kids’ school day, pay attention to the answer, because they may point towards issues your children are facing during the adaptation. 

The period of school adaptation is laden with challenges since it’s extremely important for kids’ learning and development. Both the parents and the school are fundamental to this process and, in this sense, must be aligned with each other and in constant conversation. 

:: Also Read: Inclusive Play: How to Include All Kids During Play Time ::

The Importance of Communication 

Kids can be both extremely excited and anxious at the beginning of school. To help the little ones handle these emotions, our main tip is a lot of conversations (for children older than 4) about the new routine. 

These talks may arise in spontaneous moments such as during parent-child play times, for example. 

Another tip is that parents visit the school before the first day of class to get to know the environment and which activities and timetables will be planned for the first day. It’s also important to meet the school’s team and not just the teachers, since many employees will be able to offer support to the kids during the adaptation process. 

And about communicating with your kids, the Ministry of Education Portal shared some tips for parents to deal with the experience of the first few days of school: 

What family members can check with their kids about the care they received in kindergarten:

•    Ask the names of the teachers and other employees;

•    Ask the names of their closest friends;

•    Ask them what they enjoyed doing the most that day;

•    Encourage them to tell and narrate some situations they went through there;

•    Which songs did they sing or listen to;

•    What did they do on the play time;

•    Which paintings, drawings, sculptures did they make;

•    Which book did the teacher read;

•    Which story did the teacher tell;

•    What are they learning, among others. 

What family members can observe directly in the child about the care they received in kindergarten:

•    Note the kids’ behavior when they arrive at the institution (joy, shyness, crying). 

•    Note daily and carefully while you’re talking to the kids – their looks, their gestures, their speaking and their reactions may help to evaluate their physical and emotional states. 

•    Note the kids’ reactions to seeing their classmates, this may show how they’re getting along with their class. 

•    Note the productions and the materials they bring from the institution. 

Give Your Kids Comfort During School Adaptation

Talking about school and how important this childhood experience is may help kids feel more comfortable on the first day of school. Try telling them how your first time going to school was, talk about other kids who are close to them and have lived through this moment. 

If possible, take your kids to get to know the school before the first day of class, because that way your kids will already know a little of the new environment. Explain that feeling insecure and fearful before going to school is common. 

Allowing the kids to be a part of the process involved in going to school, such as taking them to buy school supplies, may also be useful in order for the little ones to have a pleasurable moment that’s related to school. 

Arriving early on the first day of school and taking the kids to the classroom conveys security. Also, reassure them that within a few hours you are going to be together again. 

Many things can happen throughout the adaptation process or even after that. And that’s okay, it’s normal! Something very common is for the kids to start crying and screaming by the school entrance, refusing to go to class, when they were already adapted. If this happens, talk to the teachers and, if necessary, restart the school adaptation process. This gives your kids more confidence. 

Text: Débora Nazário

Translation: Mariana Gruber

Jataka Buddhist Tales for Kids

Oral tradition is part of many cultures around the world. It was through tales, legends, fables and stories that information was spread in the past – and that remains true today. Among Buddhists, it isn’t different. Today we are going to talk about Jataka, the Buddhist tales originally from India that narrate the past lives of Buda Shakyamuni, who lived from 563 BC to 483 BC. 

Jataka Buddhist Tales

The Jataka tales are a collection of 547 Buddhist stories of morality in which Buddha tells about some of his past lives and the path to enlightenment. The term Jataka means “narrative of birth” in the Pali language. Despite being part of the Pali Canon, the sacred Buddhist book, the tales lean more towards folklore than religion. In the Jatakas, the Buddhist stories, the Bodhisattva (someone determined to become enlightened, like a student before becoming Buddha) is usually born as an animal and overcomes difficulties or solves problems in a creative and funny way. 

The stories represent directly or indirectly the tireless improvement of the Bodhisattva throughout their countless rebirths, over which they practiced the Ten Perfections: generosity, virtue, renunciation, determination, energy, patience, loving kindness, wisdom, truthfulness, and equanimity. 

Each Jataka represents one of Buddha’s rebirths in different realms of the cyclic existence called Samsara and shows how the law of cause and effect, also known as karma, works. 

Going beyond “once upon a time” stories, the Jatakas were used due to their moral and spiritual teachings. 

Inside Buddhist Culture: Who Is Buddha

Buddha is a title given in Buddhism to beings who become fully awake to the true nature of phenomena and share such discovery with others. 

Such awakening consists of the understanding that all phenomena are impermanent, unsatisfying and impersonal, and those that become Buddha become aware of this reality, thus living to the fullest and free from mental conditioning. 

Buddha can also refer to Siddhartha Gautama, a prince from a Nepal region who renounced his throne to dedicate himself to the search of eradicating the causes of suffering of all beings. In this search, Siddhartha Gautama found the path to enlightenment and became a master and spiritual teacher, founding Buddhism. 

Three Jataka Buddhist Tales for Kids: 

The King’s White Elephant

Once upon a time, there lived a herd of eighty thousand elephants at the bottom of the majestic Himalayas. Their leader was a majestic white elephant who was extremely kind-hearted. He dearly loved his old and blind mother and took great care of her.

Each day, the white elephant would go deep into the forest in search the best of wild fruit to offer his mother. He used to send fruits for his mother through his messengers. The messengers were a bunch of greedy elephants. They used to eat the fruits themselves and never gave anything to the white elephant’s old mother. The white elephant was completely disappointed with his herd.

Then one day, he decided to abandon the herd and go with his mother to Mount Candorana to live in a cave beside a beautiful lake that had lovely pink lotuses.

It so happened that one day, a forester from Banaras lost his way in the forest and was absolutely terrified to find himself alone in the thick woods. He was weeping bitterly and desperately looking to find some help. The white elephant took pity on the man and promised to help him. He knew every inch of that dense forest and showed him the way out to Banaras city. The forester thanked the white elephant and happily went home.

Then after some days, the forester got to hear the news that king Brahmadutta’s personal elephant had died and he was looking for a new elephant. The forester thought that if he would tell the king about the majestic white elephant that he had seen on Mount Candorana, he would certainly get a reward. So, he went and told the king about the white elephant. The king decided to go in the search of that white elephant the very next day.

The forester then led the king and his men to the place where the white elephant lived. When the white elephant saw the forester, he realized that it was he who had led the king’s men to him. He was very upset at the man’s selfishness and ingratitude. He decided not to put up a fight because it would have led to unnecessary bloodshed. So, the white elephant went along with the king and his men to the Banaras city.

That night when the white elephant did not return home, his mother was very worried. She had heard all the commotion outside and had guessed that the king’s men must have taken away her son. She just lay down in her cave and cried bitterly.

Meanwhile, the white elephant was led in to the beautiful city of Banaras where he was given a grand reception in the royal elephant shed. The keepers had laid out a feast for him and decorated the stable with fragrant flowers. But, the elephant neither touched the food nor seemed to be impressed with the beautiful and comfortable shed. He just sat there with a sad expression on his face.

The matter was reported to the king. The king came to visit the white elephant and find out what ailed him. On questioning, the white elephant told the king about his blind old mother. He expressed a desire to go back to her as in his absence she would not be able to sustain herself and die.

The compassionate king was touched by the elephant’s story and asked him to return to his blind, old mother and take care of her as he had been doing all along. The happy elephant went running home as fast as he could. His mother could immediately recognise the scent of her son and was overjoyed to have him back. She blessed the kind king with peace, prosperity and joy till the end of his days.

The white elephant took good care of his mother till the day she died. The king often used to come and visit him in the forest. And when the white elephant died himself, the king erected a statue of him by the side of the lake and held an annual elephant festival there in his memory.

:: You can also read: Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Learn More About the World’s Most Famous Children’s Stories ::

The Wise Goat and the Wolf

Once upon a time, hundreds of wild goats lived in a cave situated upon a hill. A wolf also lived with his wife in another cave nearby. Just like all the other wolves, the wolf couple also liked the taste of goat-meat. So they caught the goats, one after another, and ate them all. But, there was one wise goat who always managed to outsmart the wolf couple. No matter how hard the wolf couple tried to catch the wise goat, she somehow always outsmarted them.

One day the wolf said to his wife, “My dear, let us play a trick on that wise goat. You go alone to her cave and tell her that I am dead. Try to win over her sympathy by looking sad and then seek her help in burying my body. I am sure that the goat will feel sorry for you and agree to come here with you. When she will come near me, I will bite her in the neck and kill her. Both of us will enjoy her delicious meat then.”

The wolf then lay down, and his wife went to meet the goat, saying what she had been told to say. The wise goat heard the she-wolf’s story but kept sitting inside the cave and said, “”My dear, you and your late husband have killed all my relatives and friends. I do not think I am too safe out there with you.”

“Do not be afraid! I am mourning the death of my husband and thus I have decided not to kill any animal for one week,” said the wolf. “And my husband is dead now. So, what harm can a dead wolf do to you?”

The she-wolf managed to convince the goat to accompany her. The wise goat set out to the wolf’s cave but as she was still unsure of the she-wolf’s intentions, she asked the she-wolf to stay ahead of her.

Meanwhile the he-wolf who was pretending to be dead since a long time in front of his cave, started to get impatient. He was hungry and he raised up his head a little to see whether the goat was coming with his wife or not. The goat saw him raise his head, and ran back to her cave.

“Why did you have to raise your head? We almost had the wise goat in our clutches,” the she-wolf scolded her husband. He had no good answer. The she-wolf said, “Though your foolishness has spoiled everything, I will still try once again to bring the goat back to our cave.”

The she-wolf went back to the wise goat’s cave and said, “My friend, your presence is divine! The moment you came near my husband, he sprung back to life. He is now very much better. I am indeed very thankful to you. Let us be friends and have a good time together.”

The wise goat knew that the she-wolf was again trying to pull a trick on her. She said, “My friend, I am glad to hear the good news. We must share it with as many animals as we can. I will bring some of my friends also to your cave. Then we can all have a good time together.”

The she-wolf had no idea who these friends were, so she asked the goat, “Who are your friends? Tell me their names.” The wise goat said, “I will bring the two hounds, Old Gray and Young Tan and a big bull-dog called Four-Eyes. I will also ask them to bring their mates.”

The she-wolf was scared of the dogs and fled to her cave. She told her husband about the ferocious friends of the wise goat. The wolf couple took to their heels and the wise goat never saw either of them again.

The Ox Who Envied The Pig

Once, a farmer had two big and strong oxen by the names of Big Red and Little Red on his farm. He also owned a little pig that used to live with the oxen. The oxen used to work very hard in the farmer’s field. The pig did nothing and just idled around.

One day, the farmer fixed his daughter’s wedding. He ordered his men to fatten the pig for the wedding feast. And since that day, the farmer’s men started feeding a rich diet to the pig.

Seeing this, Little Red said to Big Red, “Brother, just look at the good fortune of this lazy pig! He is getting to eat all the delicious dishes without doing anything. Despite working so hard in the fields, we get to eat only some straws and grass.”

Big Red replied, “Dear brother, do not envy the pig. He is eating the food of death. He is being fattened up for the wedding feast. He would soon be slaughtered by the farmer. It is better to eat dry grass and straws and live long rather than have a rich feast and get killed.”

Sources:

Text: Luisa Scherer

Translation: Mariana Gruber

Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Learn More About the World’s Most Famous Children’s Stories

You’ve certainly already heard the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel and Thumbling. Many of them have become classical kids movies that charmed different generations and remain present in children’s lives. These stories, among many others, are part of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Since we have already talked about Aesop’s Fables, today we are going to discuss other popular kids stories: the Grimm’s Fairy Tales

What Are the Grimm’s Fairy Tales

The Grimm’s Fairy Tales are composed of fairy tales, fables and other stories published by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. There are 2 collections: the first, with 86 stories, was published in 1812; the second, with 70 stories, was published in 1814. Both collections had several editions and in each one some stories were added, while others were removed. In addition to these two volumes of short stories, the Brothers Grimm also published a small selection of 50 short kids stories in 1825. 

Initially, the Brothers Grimm published the stories with the intention of preserving the oral culture of the popular stories they heard in Germany, the country where they lived. Therefore, many stories weren’t appropriate for kids: there were evil characters, violence and sexual undertones. 

But all the stories were part of Germany’s collective imagination of the 19th Century and the oral culture that had survived until then. The stories helped people face challenges and transmitted the wisdom of that culture

The Brothers Grimm also recorded these stories with the purpose of organizing all the linguistic elements that would ground the philological studies of the German language. To sum it up, they wanted the German traditions, culture and language to be recorded and preserved, since back then the lands that today are part of Germany were constantly threatened by the Napoleonic wars. 

Moral of the Story

The most common tales that contain moral lessons are the Aesop’s Fables. The Grimm’s Fairy Tales don’t present moral lessons as openly, despite having something to teach. However, many adaptations of these stories add a moral lesson in order to make the teaching they are transmitting very clear.

As we explained in detail in the article about Greek Fables, we believe that giving a moral lesson to stories limits their teachings and what we can learn from them. After all, a story can yield countless interpretations and each person can see and absorb different wisdoms from the same tales. 

The Evolution of the Fairy Tales Over Time

Jacob and Wilhelm weren’t very concerned with the contents of the stories they were recording, after all, the purpose there was to keep the culture alive. It was common to find scenes of mutilation, mothers as villains, violent vengeances, terrorizing endings and a lot of tragedy. 

The problem is that the first edition was published in 1812 as “the Children’s and Household Tales”, and it wasn’t an immediate success – you can imagine why. In the last editions published by the brothers, they adapted and modified the plots in order to make the stories more appropriate for kids. 

The Grimm’s Fairy Tales Today

The Grimm’s Fairy Tales remained part of Germany’s cultural imagery and crossed borders by charming the whole world. Walt Disney’s classic films are adaptations of Grimm’s Fairy Tales; the theaters of many countries welcome plays and musicals based on the brothers’ stories, and many different books adapting or reinterpreting the stories were published. 

The fairy tales from today are different from the originals and even from the adapted versions created by the Brothers Grimm themselves. The stories underwent several changes over time in order to fit the historical and cultural context of each period and country. 

In spite of that, Jacob and Wilhem managed to accomplish their initial goal: that the German oral tradition continue alive through generations. 

Teaching Stories x Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Teaching Stories are also ancient tales, just like the ones from the Brothers Grimm. However, while Teaching Stories pass on wisdom from one culture and people, the Grimm’s Fairy Tales aimed to disseminate the social customs and rules. This isn’t the only difference between the Teaching Stories and the Grimm’s Fairy Tales – as they have many. 

The main one is the need to adapt. Teaching Stories travel through generations without needing major adaptations, since the wisdom transmitted is connected to the structure of the story. In the Teaching Stories, it’s possible to switch the characters’ genders and change the animals in the stories, for example, without it losing its essence. The Teaching Stories’ adaptation need is in the details, since the transmission of wisdom transcends the characters and narrative details, making them more adequate throughout generations. 

The Brothers Grimm’s Fairy Tales, on the other hand, need more and more adaptations in order to adjust to each generation. The need to adapt is becoming necessary increasingly fast due to the changes in paradigms regarding misogyny, racism, and the search for equality, for example. It’s difficult to find an old tale that doesn’t require any adaptation for today’s kids, but the Grimm’s Fairy Tales are structured in a way that they lose their meaning in the face of too many narrative changes.

Many elements of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales are tied: from the characters and their physical and personality traits to the narrative and its structure. This makes it harder for the main goal of the tales to remain after the necessary tweaks have been made to adjust them to future generations, since the social customs and rules have changed a lot since the publication of these stories.

The Truth and Tales app has Teaching Stories for kids! They’re offered in two formats: interactive stories and audio books. In the interactive stories, kids can listen and read the story at the same time – and even have fun with the interactive aspects and mini games; the audio books, by contrast, allows kids to only listen to the story, which can be used in moments that require more peace and quiet, such as before going to bed or during car trips.

Text: Luisa Scherer

Translation: Mariana Gruber

Inclusive Play: How to Include All Kids During Play Time

When kids are playing games or taking part in play activities they are learning, in addition to having fun and practicing empathy. These activities promote the development of skills, improve their perception of their surroundings and stimulate their creativity a lot. Inclusive play activities and games can be great allies in the inclusion of children with disabilities in school and in society in general. Learn more about inclusive play and games in this article. 

Raimundo A. Dinello is a PhD in Psychology with a specialization in Educational Orientation and is also a former Sociology of Education professor from the Free University of Brussels. He states that “games play a role in psychomotor development and in the kid’s social domain’s process of learning. It is possible to exercise mental processes, language development and social habits through games”.

All these benefits can also stimulate inclusion, both in the classroom and in other environments. By means of playing games, kids with disabilities can exercise their autonomy and have fun at the same time while also learning. 

When kids whose disabilities are motor, cognitive, visual, hearing, speech or language play games or participate in play activities, they are overcoming extremely relevant challenges to their development, which also impacts their mental health. 

Inclusive Play and Games Promote More Interaction Among Kids 

The Guia do Brincar Inclusivo (freely translated to “Guide to Inclusive Play”), developed by the Unicef’s Project “Incluir Brincando” by Meire Cavalcante, a master and PhD student in Education and Inclusion from Unicamp, points out that “people are different – and that is what makes the world so rich. What should be “equals”, in fact, are the opportunities to survive and develop, to learn, to grow up without violence and to play (…)”.

By planning activities, games and educational materials, you need to ask yourself a key question: does what I’m going to offer allow everyone to play together, regardless of each student’s characteristics? 

In order to promote games and play activities which are inclusive to all the kids, you need to pay attention to some details and, if necessary, make a few tweaks that will make all the difference

Meire Cavalcante also wrote for the website “Nova Escola” about the theme. “Kids and teenagers with mental disabilities usually struggle to focus for a long period of time. In order to keep their attention, dynamic activities that involve lots of colors are recommended.” 

Examples of Inclusive Play and Games 

The Guide to Inclusive Play presents a series of inclusive activities and also offers adjustments for the games you already have at home. 

“To make games more accessible, some simple and inexpensive adjustments can be made: creating raised marks with string or plastic paint; using materials such as velcro or magnets; changing the rules; creating bigger cards and dice to facilitate reading to those with low sight; using big pieces with straps for kids with physical disabilities; using signs and subtitles written in braille; or using textures and colors”

Memory Game

The memory game’s a childhood classic. It stimulates attention and concentration and trains kids’ memories and logical thinking. To make a memory game inclusive, you just need a few simple adjustments.

The outline of the game pieces can be marked with plastic paint, which will dry up and form a raised shape. This raised shape makes it easier for kids who have some visual impairments to perceive and identify the game pieces. Another possibility is to glue tiny objects such as buttons, glitter, sandpaper, cotton balls or wool – due to their different textures. 

The introduction of adjustments like that, which add texture on top of the smooth surfaces of game pieces or toys, are also beneficial from the psychomotor perspective. By touching these textures, kids with disabilities will develop motor, cognitive and sensory skills at the same time.

Dominoes Game 

You can adapt the game of dominoes in a very simple manner, by simply putting hot glue into the dots of each piece. This creates raised shapes in the pieces, which makes them easier to be handled and identified by kids with visual impairment. In this case, kids who aren’t visually impaired can cover their eyes with a cloth, in order to increase their interactions during the game.  

Uno

Uno is a game created in the seventies and that has since then gained many fans around the world. It is estimated that, to this day, 200 million copies of the game have already been sold. 

One of Uno’s remarkable traits is the color of the cards, since each turn is made according to the colors and numbers on the cards. 

In 2017, a colorblind-friendly version of the game was released. This version’s cards are marked with the iconographic symbols of universal color codes for the colorblind, or ColorADD

The symbols are located next to the number of each card. All the primary colors (red, blue and yellow) have different symbols that, combined, form a different color. 

How it works in practice: the combination of the yellow card dash and the blue card triangle form the symbol present on a green card.

In addition to the cards being different for having color symbols, they can also be recreated by joining two cards. The fact that the green symbol is the combination of the yellow and the blue symbols, for example, makes it easier for kids to identify which color is which.

Everyone can play!

The Guide to Inclusive Play also offered some tips so that everyone can play: 

  • Encourage kids to help those with reduced mobility and other difficulties;
  • Use balls with rattles and audible objects; 
  • Ensure the ground of the environment is smooth enough to allow the circulation of wheelchairs;
  • Respect kids who are hypersensitive to touch and sight (carry out activities in their rhythm); 
  • Create toys to explore figures, colors, smells, textures and sounds;
  • Always ask their family or health professional whether there are any restrictions to play time; 
  • Teach the activities and games to the families so they can play them at home with their kids;
  • In game cards, get a card holder for kids with physical disabilities;
  • Interfere when someone is excluded from the games;
  • Don’t allow unequal treatment in the group;
  • Offer play activities that go against gender prejudices;
  • Prioritize activities that value each kid’s strength (not their struggles). 

:: You can also read: Empathy: What it Is, How it Manifests and How to Recognize it in Kids ::

Online Inclusive Play and Games

The Laboratório de Objetos de Aprendizagem (LOA) (freely translated to “Laboratory of Learning Objects”) from the Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar), has been developing games for visually-impaired kids since 2012. 

To this day, 5 games have been created:

Within each of these games’ rules and gameplay, it is possible to exercise concepts of math, Portuguese, chemistry, music, and health notions. 

Game Filters

Nvidia Corporation, a tech company based in Santa Clara, California, created a filter tool in 2018 that can be incorporated into several computer games. 

In order to gain access to this tool, you need to install the most recent version of Game Ready Driver. After that, NVIDIA Freestyle will allow the game user to change the appearance of their chosen game, through color adjustments or post-processing filter application.

Within the filters categories, there is the colorblind mode, which allows colorblind players to identify colors more easily. 

Written by Débora Nazário

Translated by Mariana Gruber

EDITOR’S NOTE

Technology has become more and more of an ally to digital inclusion. Voice assistants, Alt Text on Instagram and other similar measures embrace more people. Some of them are more complex and require more sophisticated programs and technologies, but many simple things can be taken into account when creating inclusive content. 

We can mention a few facilitators in kids games and kids apps that make them more inclusive: 

  • Captions in the content;
  • Audiobooks;
  • Activities with a voice-over feature;
  • Use of shapes and patterns to help the colorblind

But inclusion goes beyond physical disabilities. The app Domlexia, for example, has games that help kids with dyslexia learn how to read. Fun interactive games plus phonological exercises help kids with dyslexia develop what they need in order to learn letters and phonemes, thus aiding their literacy process. 

Another application with inclusive aspects is Truth and Tales. Every Truth and Tales activity is narrated, therefore kids who haven’t learnt how to read yet can use the app without missing out on the experience. The app also has audio books – stories with audio only – that can be listened to by kids who are visually impaired.

In some mini games within the interactive stories, colors are used to differentiate between one object and another, but we also use different shapes and patterns so that colorblind people can complete the challenges. 

At last, Truth and Tales offers physical exercises that return people to their natural, homeostatic state, helping everyone – not only kids – to become calmer and return to their body and mind’s balanced state. Our homeostatic exercises can help kids with attention deficit, hyperactivity and anxiety. Download it and try it out

Empathy: What it Is, How it Manifests and How to Recognize it in Kids

The word empathy has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years and, because of this, you must have heard of this expression. However, despite its new-found popularity, have you ever wondered what it means? 

Have you ever questioned how is it possible to develop empathy and from which age does it start to manifest? 

We can feel empathy in several situations from an early age. When we come across completely different realities from ours, such as when we see someone being insulted by someone else or going through a situation that causes someone some kind of discomfort, we feel empathy. You can do this exercise and try to remember situations that made you feel empathy. 

What is Empathy 

According to the University of Cambridge’s dictionary definition of empathy, it is “the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation”

The Greater Good magazine, from the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) from Berkeley, published an article in which it pointed out that “emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling”.

When it Starts to Manifest

Feeling empathy is an emotional and cognitive experience. The emotional components of empathy are the first to emerge in the human being. Babies immediately start to reflect on the emotional states and the facial expressions of the people around them. Thanks to mirror neurons, babies as young as 18 hours usually show some response capacity regarding other babies in danger. We don’t teach babies how to do that; they are born programmed to map other people’s experiences onto their own brains and bodies. 

According to Lawrence Kutner, North-American child psychologist and author of six books, kids as young as 2 years old might see their mothers crying, for example, and move to offer her what they have in hand, such as a toy or food. However, in the face of this action, it isn’t clear whether the 2-year-old kid recognizes their mother’s feeling as she cries. 

The author writes, “By the time a child is about 4 years old, he begins to associate his emotions with the feelings of others. While one child says he has a stomachache, some 4-year-olds may come over and comfort him. Others, much to the bewilderment and horror of parents and teachers, will walk over to the child and punch him in the stomach.”

“Yet in each case the healthy child is demonstrating his empathy for the one who is ill. The aggressive child does not know what to do with the skill he’s been developing. The other child’s pain makes him feel uncomfortable. Instead of running away or rubbing his own stomach, as he might have done a year earlier, he feels frustrated and lashes out.”

How to Observe and Recognize Empathy in Kids

Making Caring Common, an initiative from the University of Harvard, posted some tips for cultivating empathy

1. “Empathize with your child and model empathy for others.”

Children learn empathy both from watching us and from experiencing our empathy for them. When we empathize with our children they develop trusting, secure attachments with us. 

Those attachments are key to their wanting to adopt our values and to model our behavior, and therefore to building their empathy for others.”

2. “Provide opportunities for children to practice empathy.

Children are born with the capacity for empathy, but it needs to be nurtured throughout their lives. Learning empathy is in certain respects like learning a language or a sport. It requires practice and guidance.

Regularly considering other people’s perspectives and circumstances helps make empathy a natural reflex and, through trial and error, helps children get better at tuning into others’ feelings and perspectives.”

3. “Expand your child’s circle of concern.”

As parents and caretakers, it’s not only important that we model appreciation for many types of people. It’s important that we guide children in understanding and caring for many kinds of people who are different from them and who may be facing challenges very different from their own challenges.”

4. “Help children develop self-control and manage feelings effectively.” Often when children don’t express empathy it’s not because they don’t have it. It’s because some feeling or image is blocking their empathy. Often the ability to care for others is overwhelmed, for example, by anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings. 

Helping children manage these negative feelings as well as stereotypes and prejudices about others is often what “releases” their empathy.” 

Different Types of Empathy

According to psychologist, researcher and author Daniel Goleman, who wrote to Harvard Business Review about the subject, there are three types of empathy

  • “Cognitive empathy—the ability to understand another person’s perspective;
  • Emotional empathy—the ability to feel what someone else feels;
  • Empathic concern—the ability to sense what another person needs from you.”

He reached these definitions based on research done by the Harvard Medical School. These studies also present the existence of a social brain, which can be explained as parts of the brains that interact in order for us to engage with one another. 

The psychologist explains that the social brain isn’t made of one small part of the human brain, since varied parts of the brain interact to perform the functions involved in social coexistence. The term “social brain” encompasses several active parts that cover the entire human brain. These active parts are implied in the actions we execute when we interact with other people. 

According to the researcher and author, these three types of empathy directly related to the social brain are paramount for communication in different types of environments, whether that’s at work, at home or in school. “When two people are in such a state, giving each other their full attention, it creates a feeling of well-being and makes space so that exchanges can happen, since they’re feeling safe and supported,” he states. 

The author reiterates that our ability to truly connect with people, regardless of the situation, is extremely important for us to understand what others are telling us and what they feel. In order to improve this connection you need to know how to listen to others and ask questions. 

Daniel Goleman states: “I literally feel your pain. My brain patterns match up with yours when I listen to you tell a gripping story.”

How empathy is developed

One study coordinated by Helen Riess together with other doctors from the Massachusetts General Hospital suggested that emotional empathy can be developed

To reach this conclusion, the doctor created a program that taught other doctors how to concentrate and breathe deeply through the diaphragm in order to observe interactions. “Suspending your own involvement to observe what is happening allows you to interact with “conscious awareness”, without being completely reactive”, affirmed Dr. Riess. 

She states in the research that if a doctor notices she is feeling annoyed, for example, it may be a sign that the patient is also feeling disturbed. 

:: Read Also: What is Homeostasis? ::

How empathy influences kids lives

Michelle Borba, an educator, parenting child expert and author of more than 20 books, in an interview to Revista Crescer explained that “the last scientific discoveries have shown that the ability to be empathetic positively affects healthy and finances, brings happiness and contributes to the satisfaction that relationships offer, in addition to increasing the ability to overcome adversities in the future. Empathy also prepares kids to live in a globalized world and provides them with a boost to do better career-wise.” 

In her book Unselfie, Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, the author dedicates an entire chapter to the importance of kids being in contact with literature. 

According to her, “Books have the power to transport kids to other worlds and transform their hearts. Books can be portals to understanding distinct universes and points of view, helping our kids to be more open to differences and to cultivate new perspectives. We always feel what the characters feel. It’s like walking in their skins – emotionally, at least – identifying ourselves with their discomforts and feeling their pains. (…) That is why we need to find time for kids to read and put them in contact with books.” 

By reading or listening to stories, kids can broaden their perceptions regarding their own lives and, therefore, experience empathy. Our app Truth and Tales also shares this vision since it encourages kids and adults to perceive themselves more and more. By doing so better, we can also see others more easily and, that way, be more empathetic. 

Written by Débora Nazário

Translated by Mariana Gruber

EDITOR’S NOTE 

Empathy is popular right now and we can see it being mentioned in several lectures of the most varied genres. People claim it’s the “skill of the future”. Despite many talking about empathy, however, in practice, most still confuse it with sympathy

As it was said in the article above, we feel empathy when we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes – when we are able to see the situation from someone else’s perspective. It’s the ability to experience the same feelings as others. 

Sympathy, on the other hand, isn’t a shared experience. Sympathy concerns our own feelings from our own judgment of a situation. To feel sympathy is to express that, despite not knowing what the other person is going through, you feel for them. 

For empathy to occur, a connection between two people is indispensable, whether they know each other or not. In a world where online connection is getting easier and easier, physical ones are getting lost. We advise, therefore, that you spend some quality time with your kids away from screens and the internet. 

Truth and Tales, our original app, develops empathy through interactive kids stories. This is done through the customization of the main characters, which allows kids to choose the character’s skin, eye and hair color, the hairstyle, the clothes, the accessories, etc. 

Kids could come up with the craziest combinations, but they usually put together characters whose physical traits are similar to themselves. That makes it easier for kids to put themselves in the character’s shoes, thus developing empathy. 

Fortnite Guide: Everything Kids Parents Need to Know About the Game

Many parents have probably already heard the game Fortnite be mentioned by their own kids or by others, just like Among Us and Roblox. Fortnite was created in 2011 and has since seen its number of players increase more and more. 

In August of this year, the game’s producer, Epic Games, stated that it had reached 500 million user accounts – while, last year, the number was 350 million. 

What is Fortnite? 

Fortnite is a multiplayer online game (i.e. it allows several players to play one match at the same time) of the battle royale genre, that is, it gathers a big group of players who stay in one place searching for weapons, wood and building tools. Of this starting group, only one player or team survives and wins the match

For this reason, whoever plays Fortnite gets very focused and tense during the match, since it’s not possible to pause. Aside from this Fortnite narrative, it’s possible to explore and discover map elements of the game, and, parallel to this, defeat enemies. In a simplified way, we can say that the last player wins – in other words, the one who survived all the battles and managed to escape other players. 

What is the Game’s Goal?

The main goal within the game is to be the last one surviving, usually by winning combats against other players. In order to do that, users can play in solo mode, in pairs or in teams of four participants maximum. 

Those who better explore the map, win resources, acquire items and/or establish their bases have an advantage in combat. Knowing the map is extremely important since this keeps players alert during moments of combat. 

Is Fortnite Free? 

The game is free and can be played on a PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android. To download the game in the computer, you need to access Fortnite’s main page, select the option “play free now” and then select PC/Mac. 

The next step is to create an Epic Games account, which is the platform that hosts the game, similar to a game store. Some data are requested, such as country, full name, user name, email address and password. The game also offers the possibility of creating an account with your Facebook or Gmail logins. After filling out this information, the user must choose a destination folder where the game will be saved in the computer. 

:: Read also: DISCORD PARENT’S GUIDE: How to Keep Your Kids Safe ::

Starting a Fortnite Game

Once the process of installation and user and password creation is complete, it’s time to start playing. In order to do that, you need to select the Battle Royale mode, which appears on the home screen. 

Game mode: 

After selecting the character and their skin, there are a few game mode options for the user to choose from: solo, duos and squads – i.e. the player can choose to play alone, with another player or in a team. 

The game starts as soon as these steps are completed. The player starts the match on a hot air balloon or flying bus in the sky from where they’re airdropped, landing right on the game’s map. 

Issues that Deserve Parents Attention    

Monetization within Fortnite

We know games and apps have a few ways to monetize their creations, i.e. to “make money” from them, as explained in this article.

Fortnite is free to download and play – and it’s free of advertising. Then how does it make money? Through in-game purchases. Fortnite sells some items that you can use inside the game. 

In the item shop inside Fortnite, it’s possible to buy Skins (character clothes), weapons and accessories to customize your character and even improve your performance in battles. The game’s currency is V-Bucks. As of when this article was written, you can buy 1,000 V-Bucks for $7.99; 2,800 V-Bucks for $19.99 and so on and so forth. 

Besides the items already mentioned, loot boxes can also be bought in the store. Loot boxes are boxes with random items to customize your character. These items are sold separately in the shop, but users are attracted to loot boxes due to the possibility of finding rare items there. Loot boxes use the same mechanic used in casinos and they can be harmful to kids

In the United States, purchases made inside Fortnite have become an issue for many kids, who are being bullied for having “default” characters – i.e. whoever plays with the character skin that they started the game with, without customizing them with items sold in the shop, is derogatorily called “default”

This social pressure to customize characters generates a false need for consumption among kids, if only to protect themselves from being bullied in school or inside the game.

 In other words, kids are not even safe and protected at home, where they’re attacked online through the Fortnite chat. This needless consumption encouraged by the game is one of the main causes of concern with respect to kids

Ratings: 

As we have mentioned, the player who’s the last one standing at the end of the match wins. Therefore, in addition to having to think about defense strategies, you need to shoot enemies so that they’re destroyed, which implies violent scenes. 

Despite all the shootings and players “dying”, the game isn’t very realistic. The game graphic doesn’t show blood and then a player dies, what appears on the screen is the items such player was keeping and which are now available for the other player to collect. 

In Brazil, the game matches were rated for people over 12 years old. In the United States, on the other hand, the recommended age is 13 years old, which is the same age that Epic Games, the company that created the game, suggested. 

Open chat during the game: 

Similar to Among Us, Fortnite has a chat feature during the game, where it’s possible for players to talk during matches. In this case, however, it’s possible to silence the chat in the following manner: 

  1. Select the menu icon and then click on settings. 
  2. There you’ll find the audio page. To deactivate it, you simply need to click on turn on/off the voice chat and manage notifications. 
    • It is important to emphasize that this is going to impact your kid’s ability to play. 

The most important tip that encompasses not only Fortnite but many other games is to have constant, open dialogues with your kids. Communication builds trust in the little ones and it will make it easier for them to talk about any type of situation that happens in the game that seems unusual. 

Written by Débora Nazário

Translated by Mariana Gruber

EDITOR’S NOTE 

We can’t say that Fortnite is a violence-free game, because it’s not. There are weapons, shootings, and the game winner is the one who survives. Therefore, we reinforce that it is necessary for parents and kids to have conversations about the game. 

Being interested in what your kids like and even playing with them is something that brings you closer and makes them comfortable enough to seek adult help if they feel the need. 

Chat and violence

It’s important to always be attentive when it comes to the chat feature in case it isn’t silenced, even if your kids aren’t showing any concerning signs. Asking what they talk about and agreeing with them that you’re going to check it once in a while are very important in order to protect them from ill-intentioned people. 

Talking about what your kids think about that violence is also worth it, since the game tries masking this issue by giving it an air of fantasy. Many kids don’t even notice the violence and henceforth don’t treat it as such. 

Consumerism and Bullying

But violence isn’t the game’s most fragile issue. How it monetizes – in other words, how Fortnite makes money – is what parents should always be concerned about.

Therefore, our stance regarding Fortnite is that kids under 10 don’t play the game, since they don’t understand how the monetization works, i.e. that each item actually costs real money. They’re not prepared yet for this type of game model. 

For older kids, talking about this issue and establishing limits are paramount. Agreements like these will change according to each family’s reality, but it’s important that they understand clearly that each item bought is worth money. 

It’s also important to talk about how this affects your kids’ social lives. We’ve seen many who are bullied in school for using the “default” character in the game. Keep an eye out for this, talk about this issue and be attentive to how your kids seem before and after playing Fortnite. Many kids become anxious and only play it because they “need” to be in the same environment that everyone else is. 

Positive aspects

In spite of all this, there’s no denying that Fortnite helps to develop certain skills.

Shooting games in general develop spatial vision, since the game’s point of view is usually first-person and you need to pay a lot of attention to all the elements around you in order to shoot and hide. Agility is also developed, as well as global and focal attention, since you need to focus on one target and search for a secure place at the same time. 

There’s one more thing that even Fortnite itselfs awards: buildings. The user can collect wood, rocks, ropes and tools in the game to build fortresses – hiding places that assist you in the game – and the player profits from each building. Similar to Minecraft and Roblox, this “Sandbox” type of game that allows kids to build things is very beneficial to both their spatial vision and creativity. We’ve talked about spatial vision in games here

DISCORD PARENT’S GUIDE: How to Keep Your Kids Safe

If your kids are starting to play computer games, it is possible that soon you’re going to hear about Discord. Here is some important information about Discord for you to know what kids are doing to play online

Discord is a chat app. It’s quite popular within the gaming community, but it has gained popularity within other niches as well since many companies and schools have adopted the program for remote work and teaching.

Discord allows users to communicate over text, voice and/or video, through channels, groups, or private chats

The app became popular among gamers for being a good meeting point option: it is possible to play online and talk to people on a Discord voice channel at the same time. In addition, there is the streaming option, which is when someone streams their computer screen live so that other people can see their game. 

Another strength is the communities Discord forms. There are servers of the most varied themes, where users can discuss news, ask questions, give out advice and even find other players to play together. 

How Discord works

To better understand how it works, we are first going to explain its structure. If your kids are on Discord, it is important to know the following details. 

  • Server: Servers are spaces on Discord. They’re like cities in a country, created by specific communities or friend groups. According to Discord, most servers are small-sized and only for guests – in other words, they’re private and you need an authorization to be a part of them. Some servers are public. Any user can create a new server for free and invite their friends to be a part of it. 
  • Channel: Servers are organized by voice and text channels. Many servers organize channels over specific topics and may have different rules. On text channels, users can post messages, upload files, and share messages with other users. On voice channels, users can connect through voice or video calls in real time, in addition to being able to stream their screen for their friends to see. It’s also possible to send private messages to other users and create private group chats with up to 10 participants, to which access is only by invitation. It’s also possible to create private channels with fewer users – in this case, only the participants of such a channel can see the messages posted there. 

Is Discord for kids?

According to Discord’s Terms of Service, it requires that users are at least 13 years old to access the app or the website. This is done by date of birth confirmation during the registration that gives access to Discord. If the user is under 13 years of age, the account is blocked. Of course, many kids know this and type in another date of birth so that they can create an account, just like in many other websites and apps. 

Discord takes some precautions to make their user’s experience safer, regardless of age: 

  • As we explained, most Discord groups are private and only guests are allowed in. 
  • All chats are optional; that is, each user chooses who can add them as a friend, who can send them messages and what kind of content they can receive. 
  • Discord doesn’t share personal information, including contact information and private chats. The app doesn’t ask for a real name when you create an account and it doesn’t sell their users’ data to advertisers. 

If your kid is younger than 13 and is already on Discord, be aware that this is not in accordance with the platform’s rules. Maybe you can both reach an agreement to migrate to another platform where kids are allowed, but we know this may be a challenging task. If they don’t budge and you decide not to forbid your kid from playing with their friends on Discord, you need to pay attention to the following issues

:: Read Also: ROBLOX: How to keep kids safe in the game ::

Set to increase safety 

Discord doesn’t have parental controls, but there are some settings that can make your kids safer there. In order to do that, open Discord and search the navigation menu for User Settings, which has a gear icon, and then click on Privacy and Security. There are many options there that you can either turn on or off. Here are some tips:

  • Safe and Direct Message: For underage users, it’s recommended that the option Keep me Safe is activated, so that it’s possible to analyze direct messages from everyone. 
  • Who can friend you: Here it’s advised that only the option Friends of Friends, in order to have more control over who can add your kids as friends, but without trimming their friends circle completely. If you prefer that only server members are allowed to add your kids, that’s also possible, but remember: there are game servers with a lot of users. You may even choose to select none of these options. In this case, your kids won’t receive any friend requests, but they can still send them to other people. 
  • Blocking other users: if there’s someone bothering your kids, it’s possible to block them. Blocking users prevents them from sending you messages and removes them from your friends list. In addition, it hides the messages sent by this person in any server you two have in common. To do that, you only need to right click on @username and select Block. 

How to report issues on Discord

If you or your kids see hate messages, threats, or any act that goes against Discord’s rules, it’s possible to report it. In order to do that, you need to copy the message link. You can get this link by right clicking on the message, selecting the option “copy message link” and pasting the message over DM (Direct Message, when you send a message directly to Discord) or over the Discord server, both within the platform. 

It’s also possible to send an email by filling out a form that describes what happened. Here, in the option What we can help you?, select the option Trust & Safety. We recommend attaching screenshots of the chat and saving all the message links. The message should be written in English. 

Written by Luisa Scherer

Translated by Mariana Gruber

EDITOR’S NOTE 

Discord was created for people over 13 years old. At this age, teenagers are mature enough to deal with subjects like bullying, they notice more easily when they’re being tricked and they are aware that anyone could be on the other side of the screen. Kids under 13 don’t have the necessary skills yet to notice some of these warnings.

Despite that, Discord is a great platform to play online with friends, and we know it’s one of kids and teenagers’ favorites. If your kids are younger than the minimum age and use it either way, it’s up to each parent to decide whether or not your kids are allowed to be on Discord

We believe it’s possible to keep kids on the platform so long as you’re very attentive. Therefore, make sure your kids know all their Discord friends from real life or make sure that they’re all the same age. It’s also worth asking your kids if you can arrange to talk to their virtual friends’ parents one day, in order to ensure that the kids are, in fact, the same age and that all parents from “both sides” are on the same page. 

If your kids are under 13, we suggest they don’t use headphones when they’re on Discord. It’s easier for you to be attentive this way and notice what is being said in the channels and servers they are a part of. 

Keep an open and recurring dialogue over your kids’ games and the experiences on Discord. Talk to them, be interested in what they play. This makes it all easier when they need your help. Always mention some precautions they should take, such as not accepting friend requests from people they don’t know, asking for your help when they stumble across something unusual and this type of thing. 

Remember that your kids and their friends can also create servers. We recommend reading this to learn how to create a safe Discord server.

ROBLOX: How to keep kids safe in the game

Roblox is a virtual platform that makes many possibilities available to users, from creating new games to playing other users’ productions

According to a report published by Roblox Corporation this year in August, the platform has reached the mark of having 48 million active users playing daily. This number is expressive not only in terms of the quantity of players, but also in the hours that players spend connected to the platform: more than 4 billion hours were spent playing during the analyzed period. 

This universe of possibilities has attracted many kids – as well as parents’ attention. We have already written a complete guide for parents to help them pay attention to certain aspects of Roblox when their kids are playing it. 

In this article, we are going to talk about how to make your kid’s experience safer and understand a little more about how the platform works. 

How parental control is done on Roblox  

Roblox offers some parental control possibilities, such as limiting chat functions, account restrictions (so that the user can access only Roblox’s curated content) and age visibility, which determines the settings for kids. 

Activating account restrictions:

Click on the security option within settings. Next to account restrictions, switch the button position to activate the restrictions. The button will turn green and the following message will appear on the screen: “Account restrictions are currently enabled”. This means you have successfully enabled account restrictions. 

By doing so, no other user can send you messages, either in the Roblox app or in the game, in addition to preventing the account from being found by its phone number. All these settings can be adjusted individually, as soon as the restrictions are activated. 

Blocking users: 

Blocking users is very simple: you must simply open the profile of the user you wish to block and click on the three dots on the top right corner where there is the username and friends information. A menu of options will appear on screen and among them there will be the option to “block user”. By selecting it, you block the user.  

How to block users within a game: 

There is also the option of blocking users inside the games. In the list in the top right corner of the game screen there is a list of players, select the profile you wish to block and a menu will be displayed on the screen. After that, choose the option: block user. It is also possible to report abuse directly in the same menu, by clicking on report abuse

It’s necessary to report abuse through this button when some user uses inappropriate language or addresses other players in a threatening or intimidating way. 

Activate settings through account PIN: 

Roblox offers kids parents another safety possibility: the creation of a PIN number associated with the guardian’s email address to block user settings. To activate it, you need to click on the gear icon on Roblox’s home page and then choose settings

After doing so, type the guardian’s email address and the kid’s account password in the corresponding fields. Then, click on add email. A confirmation email will be sent to the given email address. After the confirmation process is complete, you need to refresh the settings page to activate the PIN number. Then, to activate it, click on account PIN. Once it’s activated, every setup in the future will be activated only after the password is typed in. The settings are now blocked by the PIN number.

:: You can also read: The importance of make-believe, lies and imagination in childhood ::

How Roblox works 

Now that you already know how to keep your kids safe on Roblox, we are going to explain how the game works, so that you can talk to your kids and be a part of their online life as well. 

How does game creation happen on Roblox?

Before anything else you need to create an account on Roblox’s main page. After that, you will already have access to your main profile, where you can change your personal information, send and receive messages, change your profile picture and create your own games. 

Install Roblox Studio: 

To start creating games, you need to download the program Roblox Studio. This program is what makes it possible to create games with the available objects and map models, which later can be published in your profile within Roblox. 

Map choice: 

Once Roblox Studio is downloaded, in the creation start menu there are the map options, where it is also possible to choose a theme or gameplay map. Players who are new to the platform can choose the gameplay option, since the game’s visuals and rules will already be established. The gameplay mode offers seven available models: Racing, Obby, Line Runner, Infinite Runner, Capture The Flag, Team/FFA Arena and Combat. Some edits are allowed, such as changing objects, switching the background between day and night and customizing the avatar. In the lateral tab, located in the left part of the screen, there are buttons to create a new map or visualize already existing ones. 

How to change elements within the game:  

After selecting the game option, it is possible to change elements within the game, such as objects and the avatar, by clicking on the “toolbox”. At this stage, it’s possible to style the game according to how the player had pictured it. To do so, the user must enable the toolbox on the left part of the screen. With it, the player can add objects and choose where to place them. If you want to alter the object surface or add effects, you must simply click on “model”. 

Create games with an existing terrain: 

In the theme option, the user can create a game from already existing terrains, with the following available themes: Baseplate, Flat Terrain, Village, Castle, Suburban and Racing

By selecting this option, the elements of each terrain are filled automatically according to their own traits. Despite that, the elements can also be altered. 

Create a game from scratch: 

To those who have previous knowledge of game creation, Roblox Studio also offers the option to create a game from scratch. To do so, you should choose the base plate map, which is a blank map mode. After selecting this mode, the user can choose a terrain and, then, select the game’s objects, characters, visual and sound effects, and rules. This mode also allows the player to create gameplay mechanics with programming, especially HTML. There is the plugins tab, which offers a system to those familiar with programming and makes a more autonomous creation possible. 

Kids who have learnt or are learning programming and coding can benefit a lot from this Roblox mode. 

Test the created game: 

Testing the game created on Roblox Studio is an extremely important part of the creation process. In order to do that, click on the top of the Roblox Studio window and open the toolbar called testing and then play. Now it’s possible to walk with your character through the map, observing the game from a wider point of view. To leave player mode you need to simply click on stop. By doing so, the user will go back to editing mode. 

Evaluate the in-game experience, seek errors: 

Putting objects in non-strategic places – which hinder movement within the game – is one of the most frequent errors. That is why testing the game is extremely important, since that is the only way such errors can be fixed. 

Don’t forget to save the game: 

After following these steps, it’s time to save the game. And, similarly to other types of work that use programs, saving a copy is key. To do that, you need to click on file and then save.

Publish the game you created on Roblox:

Now that a copy has been saved, it’s time to publish the game. On the top menu, on the file tab, the user must click on the option “publish to Roblox”. The next screen will ask you to choose a genre for the game, whether it will be private or public, and other details such as the name and the devices it will be available to play. After that, you can simply click on create for the game to go online! 

Written by Débora Nazário

Translated by Mariana Gruber

EDITOR’S NOTE

Roblox is an amazing tool and it can be very beneficial for kids. We can start by considering it’s an active activity in which kids can create new things instead of only consuming content passively (of which watching a video is a good example). 

With Roblox, kids have access to games created by other users, which is an incentive for them to create their own games. The game creation process involves much more than programming. You need to think about the goal of the game, its format, characters, rules, all of its visuals, and, of course, in the technical aspects of it, which is programming in itself. All of this requires organization and focus. 

By building a simple game, kids develop many skills like planning, organization, and storytelling skills; and the ability to see a project from a broader point of view and, right afterward, move on to an activity in which they need to focus in only one aspect (we call this global and focal attention) – in addition to a lot of creativity. 

However, it’s a platform to which many people have simultaneous online access – and there’s a chat feature. All the games and platforms that have chats and kids using them must trigger a warning light on a parent’s mind. This is because ill-intentioned people can make contact with kids and try to take advantage of them somehow. 

Therefore, read about Roblox (and all the games and apps your kids have), understand how it works and keep yourself informed about parental controls in order to activate whatever is necessary to protect them within the platform. 

Music helps premature babies’ brain development

The information that classical music is good for babies has circled the web and parents’ group chats. But are the benefits real? We do not know whether it is classical music specifically. However, a study by the Geneva University Hospitals has proved premature infants have better brain development when they listen to a specific type of music.  

Premature babies who were exposed to music in intensive care units developed their brain networks more effectively, leading to a functional brain architecture more similar to term newborn babies. 

The impact in the development of the brain 

In some areas of infant brains exposed to music, larger development was detected. This had an impact on sensory perception, on attention mechanisms which are helpful to the learning process related to cognitive and perceptive development, on affective and emotional processing, and on cognitive and behavioral responses

The study was developed by researchers from the University of Geneva and published in June 2019 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), one of the world’s most-cited scientific journals. 

Overall, 45 babies participated in the research: 16 term newborn babies (i.e. babies who were not born prematurely) and 29 preterm infants, newly born in the ICU environments of the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG). 

Of 29 premature babies, 15 were in the control group which had no music intervention and 14 were in the one which had. 

According to the article “Music in premature infants enhances high-level cognitive brain networks”, written based on the study’s results, premature babies exposed to a certain type of music had significant enhancement in the development of their brain networks in relation to the preterm babies who had no contact with the music. 

The brains of premature babies are not fully developed yet because of their shorter pregnancy period. For this reason, babies need to spend some time in an ICU incubator to continue developing. 

Despite simulating the environment of the uterus, incubators are found lacking in terms of development. According to Petra Huppi, the professor leading the UNIGE’s Faculty of Medicine’s research and head of HUG’s Development and Growth Division, “The brain’s immaturity, combined with a disturbing sensory environment, explains why the neural networks do not develop properly.” 

:: You can also read: The benefits of rhymes when learning to read ::

The Music

The premature babies from the study had contact with music composed exclusively for them. The specific instruments that were used, such as a harp, bells, and a pungi, had already produced brain and behavioral responses in premature newborns in a previous study. 

The music was divided into three tracks in order to adapt to the babies’ vigilance state: one that helped awake the babies; another which interacted with them while they were alert; and a third one that helped put them to sleep. 

Written by Luisa Scherer

Translated by Mariana Gruber