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It’s science: How your child’s social skills set the stage for success

Achievement is driven by both cognitive ability and non-cognitive characteristics, like emotion regulation.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

As parents, we want our children to succeed in school and in life, and we worry about that. Navigating both is a solo endeavor, and requires us to help them learn to recognize, feel and honor their emotions without being controlled by them.

Life is full of moments that can overwhelm us, especially if we are little. Keeping it all together, whether you're a mama or a tot, means having the tools to properly react to events.

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The key? Emotion regulation—the ability to understand and manage our behavior and reactions to feelings and things happening in our environment.

Research has found that your child's social skills in kindergarten are more important than academics when it comes to long-term success. Those social skills, like playing well with others, problem-solving, recognizing feelings, being helpful and controlling impulses require healthy emotion regulation.

Cognitive and behavioral scientists say that achievement is driven by both cognitive ability (measured by IQ and test scores) and non-cognitive characteristics, like emotion regulation.

Learning how to regulate emotions can facilitate the development of a positive student-teacher relationship, too—it's been found to increase cognitive processing and independent learning behavior. How? By helping us focus our attention on the tasks at hand and suppress inappropriate behavior in the classroom. This has led to more productivity and increased standardized early literacy and math achievement scores.

So the skills that build success on the playground also make our kids successful with teachers in the classroom, no matter how "smart" they are from an intellectual standpoint. Ensuring we teach awareness and mastery of our emotions at home can go a long way to provide our kids with both halves of the equation necessary for them to succeed when they are out of the home.

Bottom line: The emotion regulation that underscores social competence in kindergarten can be the foundation for *lifelong* success with peers, teachers and beyond.

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    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

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    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

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    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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