Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Whether parenting or working with a large group of students, it is important we look at our own behaviour and the impact it has on our children’s actions. Although we may have the best of intentions, we inadvertently influence our children’s poor behaviour or negative choices. When dealing with a child who is misbehaving, it is easy to blame their environment, parents, friends or even nature. But by doing so, we are relinquishing all responsibility thus disabling us from making a difference. By owning the behaviour we are looking in a mirror and asking “What can I do to change the behaviour?”. Let’s look at 3 simple rules I like to remember when
working with children.

The first rule is “Set children up to succeed”. Imagine asking a child not to jump while standing on a trampoline or sit a group of children at a table for long period of time and ask them not to talk. Although children do have to learn to follow rules and “respect their elders”, they do have limits. Evaluating the likelihood of success before acting will create a more positive environment and prevent negative behaviour. By helping children to succeed, they learn success is possible and experience the intrinsic benefits which will leave them wanting more.

The second rule is “Be positive”. It may sound simple and perhaps obvious, but all too often we focus too much on negative behaviour rather than positive behaviour. Speaking negatively toward a child or

labeling a child will encourage the behaviour. Similarly, focusing on positive behaviour will encourage the behaviour to continue.

The third and final rule is “Connect with the child”. A relationship built on control will likely not give you

the results you seek. Nobody likes to be forced to do something. Have you ever tried to strap a child into a
car seat against their will? Connect with a child, build trust and respect and they will be willing to learn. By owning the behaviour we have the power to change the behaviour. Although it’s not easy, it’s amazing what we are capable of achieving. What are your rules?

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Other important life skills that can be developed from Teamwork.

The piece of tape hung in the air, three feet from the ground. The small group of children stared at it.
“We have to get all of us over that? Without touching it!?” they exclaimed. All at once they burst into a number of conversations, each trying to speak over the other. The smallest among them stepped into the circle and quietly said to the rest; “I know how we could do this; but I need your help.” Slowly and patiently, he explained how it might work. Another child contributed her ideas and soon enough, they were all helping one another over the tape.
            Teamwork has always been an important social skill for children. As educational systems are adapting to include a larger component of group work, mirroring the work environment of today’s economy, now more than ever, children need exposure to team-building skills at a young age.
            Team-building and teamwork are integral life skills. Children stand to benefit from acquiring these skills; by learning how to work in a team they develop self-confidence and improve their communication skills. Working in a team setting, whether competitive (team sports) or recreational (after school programs, birthday parties etc.), children benefit from experiential learning by having a platform in which they can interact positively with one another. These benefits include:
  • Learning about leadership abilities
  • Practicing decision making processes
  • Improving communication skills
  • Developing conflict resolution methods
            Collective challenges are a great setting for bringing a group of children together by encouraging them to work together. A popular challenge for young children (that’s safe and fun to do at home) is to have a number of children stand on top of a durable fabric (a tarp, or old towel). There should be very little extra room around their feet. The challenge: flip the fabric onto its other side, without letting anyone’s feet touch the ground. Hint: Holding hands help. 

Written by: Gabriel Gosselin, Children’s Recreational Programmer

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Picture taken from Google Images, source:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The 3 C’s of Education

Educational institutions around the world are seeing higher instances of bullying, aggression, hyperactivity and many other behavioural problems. In acknowledging these issues and remembering that we are preparing children for their future in society, is education that focuses heavily on academic subjects really substantial?
Looking at Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence, we see that the curriculum develops and caters to most of Gardner’s proposed realms of intelligence, be it Verbal, Mathematical and even Kinetic. Only what Gardner called Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligence is neglected (Gardner, 2011). These two realms of intellectual capability may be the key to preparing youth for a sound future. The 3 R’s, though not obsolete, need to be taught hand in hand with the 3 C’s: Character, Community and Choice. Educators
and parents alike should focus on building people of strong moral and ethical character, developing a sense of community and teaching the ability to make good choices.

Character—Encouraging children to question themselves, consider the consequences of their actions and understand certain universal values creates greater self-awareness, a greater awareness of others and more pro-social behaviour (Noddings, 2006). In today’s race to eradicate bullying, character education as a preventative measure operates under the philosophy that people with an awareness of their behaviour and the consequences of it will not take part in or tolerate behaviour like bullying.

Community—Instilling a “Social Spirit” is critical to creating active members, who feel a strong attachment to their community and understand the needs to contributing and building social structures (Montessori, 1914). Fostering collective ideals and giving students a chance to participate in the governance of their community not only provides them the ability to apply moral ideals and logical thinking, but empowers students to shape their world.

Choice—Children who feel like they can make choices will be more apt to engage in solving problems, rather than turning to learned helplessness. Giving children the ability to make choices about their own lives actually empowers them to step up and take responsibility. From this point, guidance can be given to help children make good choices. In other words, give them the forum while providing them with proper tools and the results will be positive.

The 3 C’s, Character, Community, and Choice, are not the only subject matter needed, but they should indeed be at the heart of the curriculum to produce children with just that; heart.

Sources Consulted
Gardner, H. (2011). Frames of Mind The theory of multiple intelligences. Philadelphia: Basic Books (original work published 1983)
Montessori, M. (1914). Dr. Montessori's own handbook. Frederick A. Stokes Company. Retrieved from
Noddings, Nel. (2006). Critical Lessons: What Our Schools Might Teach But Do Not. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 29 November 2011, from

Written by Amanda Preston, Dynamix Teambuilding Professional.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Redefining Success: Wobbling Towards Excellence

Being a facilitator at Dynamix is a unique privilege.  First of all, it’s my job to play games all day.  It’s hard to beat that.  But my favourite part of facilitating is the lessons that come out of the games.  On the best days, the kids take home something new, and so do I. 

Let me share a story:

It’s about a team of accomplished teenage leaders.  They had cooperated solidly for the majority of our three-day retreat.  Their challenge, with me, was to make the Oreo, a humongous tire attached to yellow ropes, walk forwards.  They discovered a strategy in a matter of minutes.  Most groups had needed several rounds of trial and error.  I was extremely impressed.
But then, something happened.  The students noticed the wobbling of the tire, how it wasn't moving in a straight line, how it tilted slightly. They began to nit-pick, to adjust small things, trying to move the tire perfectly.  Within seconds, the team’s cohesion dissolved.  They criticized each other’s methods, barked orders at one another.  They even yelled at each other for not communicating properly.  I stopped the group. 
“Talk to me,” I said calmly.  “What’s going on?”
They began to list their mistakes:  Not enough listening. Not enough strategy.  Not enough using our resources.  Not enough.
And then, being experienced in the ways of leadership education, they preempted my next question: What do we do differently next time? There was no shortage of ideas for improvements. 
The team was in consensus: The Oreo challenge had been a flop.  But that’s not how it looked to an outside observer, like me.
“What did we do well?” I asked them.  No answers.
“How many of you think that we were successful today?” No hands.
“Does anyone remember what the goal of the challenge was?” Silence. 
Then, one student answered: “To get the Oreo to move.” 
“Exactly,” I said.  “And was the Oreo moving?”
A chorus of yes’s.
“Then were we successful?”
Some tentative nods.
“We did what we set out to do,” I reminded them.  “Can we take a moment to give ourselves a round applause for that?”
The conversation that followed was about the importance of celebrating our successes, however small.  It’s important to work towards excellence, but that doesn’t mean forgetting to acknowledge the fact that we’ve accomplished something.  The road to an optimal solution can be fraught with struggle and setbacks – these are good things, they help us learn.  But they can also be frustrating.  That’s why we have to stop to say, Was the oreo moving? To remind ourselves that, yes, it was.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Photo taken from Google Images, source: