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  • Simple Ways to Bring out the Grit in Your Child

    “Do not ask your children what they want to be when they grow up. Instead, ask them what problems they would like to solve, if they could.” I want my kids to know that they can do anything. They don’t have to be an employee. They can be their own boss. They can create. They don’t have to be typecast into a role in their lives, just based on something they’re good at. They can do whatever they want! I want my kids to have that spunk. The spark. The GRIT. What are some SIMPLE things we can do to inspire grit in our kids?! There are so many things we can do, but these are incredibly simple things that we can do in our adult world, to tweak the kid experience in their world. Assign household jobs… it encourages pride in what kids do. Allow kids to make mistakes… it means they’re learning. Teach good manners… it encourages them to be respectful to others. Give heartfelt compliments… kids need to know when they’re on the right path, and when they’re doing an awesome job. Allow kids to make decisions… it boosts confidence. Remain positive…it’s contagious. Encourage kids’ interests… find something they’re good at and help them thrive. Promote thinking and problem solving… with every problem solved on their own, their confidence is boosted. Allow kids to spend quality time among adults… seeing the behavior of adults and observing the adult world helps kids to interact with grown-ups in addition to their parents and teachers. Volunteer with your kids… it teaches selflessness. Be friendly to new people you meet and introduce your kids… be the example that you would like your kids to follow. Give your kids the opportunity to get some GRIT!

  • 8 Ways to be a Successful Ninja!

    There is so much more to our Ninjas than being strong, healthy, and having the ability to flip off the wall like a boss. Our Ninjas are polite. They are respectful. They are focused. How are NinjaZone Ninjas successful? They do 8 key things. Whether you’re a parent, coach, or NINJA, take heed: 1. Ninjas listen. In class, at home, and at school. 2. Ninjas embrace the hard stuff. They aren’t afraid to fail, and if they do, they dust themselves off and try again. 3. Ninjas are focused. Whatever a Ninja does, he starts at 100%, and works his way UP. Ninjas never give up. 4. Ninjas are respectful to each other and adults. They know the value of friendships and understand their role in relationships with the adults in their life. 5. Ninjas separate work vs. play. They know when they’re in school, it’s time to focus. When it’s time for recess, it’s time to play. They do this while still continuing to embrace items 1-4 on this list. 6. Ninjas don’t take themselves too seriously. NINJAS. HAVE. FUN. 7. Ninjas help each other succeed. They support each other and lift each other up. 8. Ninjas have manners. They are polite and set a great example for others. Why are we so proud of our Ninjas? This list is why. We are literally TURNING ENERGY INTO AMBITION…ONE AWESOME KID AT A TIME. Here at NZ Corporate, we are proud of the work we do, the accomplishments that our Ninja kids are turning out, and the fact that we can rest our heads at night knowing that we are changing the world. We thank our club owners, trainers, parents, and most importantly: the kids.

  • Appreciating Your Child’s Energy: Redirecting Liveliness Into a Positive Drive

    “Man. I wish I had just an ounce of his energy.” How many times have we said that about kids? I know I’ve said it a million times, and that’s just about my own kids! Kids have lots of energy, and that’s just how it is! Often, their parents can’t even keep up. There’s nothing better for energetic kids than to allow them to give into their desire to run, jump, and play. However, there seems to be a bit of a stigma when it comes to high-energy kids. They don’t always get the best reputation by adults, because it’s assumed that they can’t sit still, and they will ‘just run around and destroy things.’ If kids witness these comments from adults, eventually they could fall into that category, and that could definitely cause disciplinary issues down the road. It’s so important that kids are given an outlet to channel their energy. It’s important because it does more than let them run the wiggles out. It also: Gives them confidence. If kids are put in a situation where they can safely run and jump, while testing the abilities of their own body, their desire to try new things is almost immediately stimulated. Encourages group sport participation. Most kids feed off the energy of others around them. If your child is on a soccer team, for instance, they will be able to focus their energy on the common goal, and when they see other kids reaching to achieve this goal as well, they are successful and have a sense of accomplishment. Reinforces setting limits. High-energy kids can get excited easily, and may need some redirection to encourage them to focus. Setting limits early on will teach them that there is a time and a place for running wild, and it will encourage good behavior based on rewards. Setting up deals (or pacts, as they’re called in my house) with them can work well, if you promise to take them to the playground as a reward for being awesome during the trip to the mall. Other rewards that could excite them may be a trip to the splash pad, a family bike ride, Friday night open gym, or other ways for them to expel some of their energy. Whatever you decide to do, always follow through on your promise. High-energy kids are AWESOME kids. They entertain themselves. They have active imaginations, they love challenging themselves, and they never fail to keep US entertained, as well. Kids with a lot of energy function best being themselves—letting that energy fly. Keep them focused, give them a place to redirect their energy, and give them lots of love. Fight the desire to try to reign them in, and remember that they’re still kids. Remember to cherish every high-strung, crazy, absolutely precious moment while they’re still young enough to hug us so hard and fast that they practically knock us over.

  • Motor Skill Development Through Climbing and Gymnastics

    Here at NinjaZone, one of the most important concepts that we can see in action everyday is when kids gain and USE transferable core skills. If you’ve been around us for a little bit, you’ve likely heard that term. What exactly are “transferable core skills?” They are basic, deeply rooted motor skills that will carry kids through other sports, challenging movements, and…well, life. We always go back to the story of the kid that nearly trips and falls, but catches himself and immediately goes into a forward roll. THAT is what we mean by a transferable core skill (and it’s also a true story of one of our Ninjas!). Climbing and gymnastics are not only a blast for kids, but those particular activities are helping kids develop core motor skills. What skills are we talking? Observe. Balance. This is important for fairly obvious reasons. Jumping and landing on different surfaces. This helps the body adapt to an ever-changing environment. Core arm and leg strengthening. Coordination. I can easily trip walking up stairs. I’m thirtyskfjdfhhhh…and my 5 year old is more coordinated than me. I can easily attribute that directly to her gymnastics and dance training. As for climbing, it can be a scary activity for parents to watch! But, I promise that kids are learning as they climb. What are they learning? Balance. Again, obvious, but something as simple as using opposite feet to climb does wonders for a child’s balance. Coordination. There’s that word again. Moving hands in different places, while mastering foot movement, are instilling a fine motor skill that will follow kids throughout their lives. Body, spacial, and directional awareness. This is HUGE, and allows kids to understand what their bodies can do, and how they can make their bodies more proficient. Kids are also learning how much space their body takes up, and how much available space is around them. At the root of the concept of transferable core skills, children are learning through fine motor skills. They are learning how to develop whole body movement, which involves the large core muscles, to successfully perform everyday functions. Climbing and gymnastics allow kids to fine-tune their learned gymnastic skills, as well as some very important life skills. These skills include: walking, running, sitting upright, kicking, throwing, and catching. So, the next time your toddler decides to scale the bunk beds, be there. Be there not just to catch if he falls, but to support his curiosity. Be there to witness his instinctual ability to find places to put his hands and feet. Be there for the huge smile that he will have on his face when he reaches the top. Most importantly, be there knowing that even if your heart is in your throat, you’re both coming out stronger in the end.

  • Ninja Nutrition: Nachos!

    Ninja Nik’s favorite pastime? Being a Ninja. His second favorite? Eating. Here are some delicious recipes that Nik came up with himself, and are a great opportunity for kids to join adults in the kitchen! Have the kids pull a stool up to the counter if they need it, and enjoy a Ninja Nutrition Party! Just try not to eat it all as you go…Nik’s stealthy sneaky-food-grabbing Ninja moves keep mom on her toes! Hii-yah! Nik’s Baked Nachos 40 or so baked tortilla chips (this is a great place to go organic!) 1 cup drained black beans 1 lb ground turkey 1 taco seasoning packet ½ cup salsa or taco sauce 2 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese ½ cup black olives–sliced 1 diced avocado 2 diced roma tomatoes Shredded lettuce Fat free sour cream Sliced lime, if desired Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Spray cooking spray on a 9×13 pan or deep cookie sheet. Set aside. Brown turkey (kids, let the adults handle this part!), and follow instructions on seasoning packet to season the turkey well. Spread out the tortilla chips in a single layer. Top with turkey, beans, olives, and cheese. Bake just until cheese is melted, approximately 5 minutes. Get all the toppings ready while the nachos are getting cheesy and gooey in the oven. Serve nachos immediately and top with preferred toppings. Turn dinner into a nacho bar to put a festive spin on it! Ninjas, EAT!

  • Starting Early in Teaching Goal Achievement Builds Perseverance in Kids

    “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a deadline.” –Harvey Mackay As adults, we understand the importance of a goal. We understand that we are in charge of our happiness. Oftentimes, it is more fulfilling to trudge through a difficult journey, than to reach the goal itself. Once the goal is reached, BULLSEYE. Celebrate for a moment, then on to the next goal. Are we teaching our kids this? It is SO important for kids to witness adults setting goals, and reaching them. It teaches hard work, persistence, and the importance of having a positive mindset. So, once kids have a goal set, how are we helping them to reach their goals? I have a lovely woman in my life, who is also a highly motivated entrepreneur. She always has the end goal in sight, but takes realistic steps in achieving those goals. One of the quotes that she has taught me to live by is, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” This is important, especially in teaching kids, because it teaches them to dream big, but succeed slowly. If your only goal in life is to be rich, you’ll never make it. You need a PLAN. Kids need a plan. When a young child says they want to be a doctor, our response is always: “Well, get good grades and stay in school.” To a kid, they’re probably thinking that adults must have some kind of secret code that requires them to say that to all the kids that want to be doctors. This is our inherent response because we know that successful kids grow into successful adults. Kids have to be taught this behavior. Here’s how to help kids reach their goals: Set realistic goals. Develop a step-by-step action plan. Reflect on the journey with them. Allow them to see how far they’ve come. This is the simplest way to help kids see and understand their goals.  It doesn’t matter if it’s at home, in school, sports, or the gym. The results are the same. Make it fun. Construct a poster board with them. Create a celebratory ritual every time a step is accomplished. No matter how you help kids achieve their goals, don’t ever forget: THEY ARE STILL KIDS. It’s an amazing thing to raise a child that has an appreciation for goals, but you may have to check yourself on occasion. If so, hold yourself accountable, take a step back, and remind yourself and your kid to HAVE FUN. Life is short, goals are important, and love and nurturing should never be forgotten, no matter the lesson. *Note: No elephants were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

  • Thoughts on Self-Confidence, How to Cultivate Successful Adults, and…Dr. Seuss?

    “OH! THE PLACES YOU’LL GO You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights. You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.” I’m sure you have all seen or heard this classic from Dr. Seuss. This has always been one of my favorite kids’ books, because it’s so inspirational, and it’s a reminder to kids that they must believe in themselves. When it comes down to it, they’re the driver of the bus for their life. It’s up to them to make strides. It’s up to them to stand up for themselves, and ultimately, to succeed. One of the most interesting aspects about this book is that it is timeless, and applies to ALL walks of life. This book is given to kids at pre-school graduation. It’s quoted at high school and college graduations. The reason that the book can stick with kids all the way through adulthood is because it teaches them to BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES. We’re not saying one little book has changed the world. What we ARE saying, is that a child’s home, play, and sports realities play a HUGE part in deciding how our kids are gaining self-confidence. In the gym, if a small child sees his or her friend successfully perform a forward roll for the first time, their thoughts lead them to believe that they can do it too. In school, teachers challenge their thoughts. The first time a child gets a math problem correct in front of the entire class, they are set up to know how it feels to get a boost of confidence.  The more kids are given the chance to succeed, the better their self-confidence becomes. We are not wanting to build boastful or conceited humans. Our goal is to raise confident kids, who grow into successful adults. The recipe is simple: challenges + positive reinforcement = confident kids. Now, why are you still reading this? “YOUR MOUNTAIN IS WAITING.  SO… GET ON YOUR WAY!”

  • Encouraging Talent Is Important, But Is It Enough To Motivate Kids?

    Child stars. They have amazing talent, and their parents are the sole responsible party for encouraging that talent. But, what happens when they’re pushed too far? I could name names of figure skaters that go crazy on their competition, or the endless cases of kids that grow up to make questionable life choices, but you all know what I mean.  Obviously, this isn’t the case with all kids, or all parents. The reason I bring it up is because oftentimes, these kids are encouraged solely based on their talent. My point is this: encouraging kids based on talent is not a bad thing, but is it ENOUGH? Encouraging kids happens in three core places in their lives. Home, school, and in extra-curricular activities. At home, as a parent, I try to encourage my kids in all facets of life: manners, tying shoes, bike riding skills, etc. At school, encouragement is mostly based on grades and discipline. In sports and extra-curricular activities, kids are often encouraged based on their talent and strengths. Encouraging kids through their talents gives them a broader range of confidence, and makes them feel good about themselves. But, what happens if the star football player was never taught instinctual safety, and is constantly getting hurt? What if a swimmer that has 15 practices a week, starts to feel as if he’s just competing because he’s good at it? What good does it do if the catcher on the baseball team can’t run bases? These kids were encouraged based on their strengths, and other areas of learning were overlooked. The reason that NinjaZone is so successful is because the curriculum is based on more than just defining the talents of strong kids. It’s meant to build kids up, in all areas of themselves, not just physically. Building character is not done overnight, and there’s much more to it than encouraging a runner to keep running. Let’s say you work in banking. You are SO GOOD at counting money. At the root of your job, that’s a highly valued skill, right? However, what if you constantly make customers happy and close on loans consistently, but all your boss ever tells you is that you are the best darn money counter in the West? Pretty frustrating. That’s why it is important to not overlook the small stuff, which in reality, is the big stuff. It’s the stuff that builds confidence and discipline. The stuff that motivates. I’ll leave you with a quote from NZ founder, Casey. It’s a good one, and I think it really pertains to the topic at hand today. The skill is not the success. We use the skills to build confidence, and the confidence is the success. -Casey Wright

  • How Extra Curricular Activities Build Grit and Perseverance

    Extracurricular activities expand well beyond sports. Extracurricular could be the likes of chess club, art guild, community theatre, 4-H, and tons of other types of opportunities for kids to socialize. There is much more happening beneath the surface of these activities. Of course, when we think of clubs and activities outside of the classroom, sports always falls into this category. Activities that keep our kids active and social are at the foundation of who they are, and the goal is to allow these activities to help them thrive. We teach follow-through and perseverance when we allow kids to choose an activity that interests them, and carry through with their actions. The notion of practicing something over and over, leads to learning the value of delayed gratification. One of the greatest purposes of extracurricular activities is to allow kids to experience the same types of goals and tasks as their required curriculum in school, but in a different setting. Just as getting a bad grade on a paper will cause children to reevaluate their study habits, losing a wrestling match allows for the same reflection. "What could I have done to change my performance, to alter my consequence?” It’s the intermittent feedback from a coach, teacher, or trainer is exactly what children need to to see the end of the next challenge. PERSEVERANCE. DRIVE. GRIT. This is how it happens. When this drive, or ambition is present, grit follows. These kids are learning that disappointment can happen, but they don’t let it get them down. They allow their experiences to help them grow. Through guidance from parents and coaches, they set the bar high for themselves, and succeed. Whether they lose a chess match, forget a line on stage during a play, or turn the wrong way in a dance recital, they don’t let it get them down. These kids are full of strength, courage, independence, perseverance, and determination. Just by accomplishing one key element, they are developing their character and setting the bar higher for not just the next performance, but for the rest of their lives.

  • 7 Ways Gritty, Smart, Strong Kids are Built with NinjaZone

    “So, NinjaZone is just a fancy gym class, right?” NOPE! At least, not from where we sit. We have consistently witnessed kids emerging from NinjaZone with an empowered sense of self. It is not just a gym class. Kids, parents, and coaches agree that NinjaZone is a unique opportunity for kids to develop into unbelievably strong and confident individuals. Important characteristics of successful Ninja Kids start here: 1. CONFIDENCE On the first day of NinjaZone class, kids don’t know what to expect. Within weeks, they are doing flips, spins, and rolls, which they have never done before. With each passing day, they are gaining more confidence in themselves. They are understanding what it means to believe in themselves, which is laying an important foundation in their lives. 2. STRENGTH NinjaZone combines rolls, spins, flips, kicks, jumps, obstacle courses, dance, martial-arts, gymnastics, and cross-training. (In my best Chandler Bing) “Could these kids BE any stronger?!” 3. PERSEVERANCE Ninja Zone is meant to allow kids to fall off balance and push themselves. Our program teaches kids that the slightest zig when they’re zagging is normal. If kids are convinced that they will never properly execute a flip, they become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Ninja Zone is there to help kids to revise their thinking, so feelings of self-doubt will not get the best of these amazing kids! 4. FOCUS The Ninja Mantra gets kids IN THE ZONE. It’s a reminder that they are there for a purpose, and that during their time in class, they will focus and succeed. The NinjaZone program allows kids to transfer their energy into a purpose, and that purpose molds kids in Ninja class, school, and at home. 5. PASSION NinjaZone allows kids to excel. If they have a passion for a certain facet of the Ninja program, we want them to shine. We want kids to outwardly display their passion, and we give them the platform to exhibit their strengths. 6. BALANCE (And not the kind you find on a balance beam) Refocusing energy does more than allow kids to run off steam in a controlled environment. It helps kids to practice impulse control, and provides them with a sense of emotional balance. This is a trait that carries over well beyond Ninja Zone. 7. GRIT NinjaZone builds gritty kids. These kids are confident, strong, balanced, and have a strong sense of self. How does this happen? See above. 🙂

  • The Importance of Failure and Encouraging Persistence in Kids

    Failure is the key to success. Seriously. We’ve all lived it. Small business owners have lived it. Parents have lived it. If we didn’t fall off the swings as a kid, we would have never understood the importance of hanging on. Actually, isn’t that the perfect metaphor for life? Just sayin’. Anyway, one of the toughest things to watch as a coach and parent is seeing a kid fail. Parents, especially, have the gut instinct kick in that says: “Go help!” But, as history shows, one of the best ways for kids to understand their achievements is to learn implicitly through failure. Did you “get it” the first time you attempted a somersault? Probably not. You probably failed. Gah! There’s that word again. It sounds so horrible. After all, if you get an “F” on your paper, that’s it. Adios. You’re toast. So why should we encourage kids to fail? It forces PERSISTENCE. It empowers TENACITY. It builds GRIT. It makes kids CONFIDENT. The look on a kid’s face the first time he successfully completes an obstacle course without any errors is PURE BLISS. That’s why we do this. That’s what NinjaZone is about. That is our ultimate objective. We LOVE to see our kids succeed. To be able to succeed, most will fail. This builds an ultimate drive and persistence in kids that is worth its weight in gold. Failure is vital to learning. The kid who really focuses learns more from his failures than his successes. Allowing kids to fail, take in feedback, and dust themselves off is imperative to ultimate success. Don’t let the lack of success bring your kids down. It’s building them up, and making them awesome people. After all, it worked for you, didn’t it?

  • Coaches are the Key to Unlocking Grit in Children

    As a parent, there’s always that recurring thought: “Am I doing it right?” Well, we all know the answer to that: there is no right and wrong! As kids get older, it becomes increasingly more difficult to try to wrangle them, and the best we can do is hope that the influences in their lives are guiding them in a ‘good’ direction. Everyone has their own idea of what a ‘good’ direction is, but I think that most of us can agree that we want our kids to grow up to be productive members of society, who are also kind and confident. The sad part? Parents can only do so much. We all have that one teacher. The one that, as kids, we thought was put on this Earth to torture us. Yeah, you’re picturing them, aren’t you? In many cases, that one teacher is also the one that had the heaviest influence on us as adults. Mr. Smith may have been a bear in class, but thanks to him, you now understand the importance of a strong handshake. The same goes for coaches. The coaches in our children’s lives are one of the biggest influences that they may ever encounter. Why is this? Think about it. Coach isn’t mom or dad. Coach isn’t brother or sister. Coach is not grading papers. Coach is there to challenge. To encourage. To nurture when necessary, and lay down the gauntlet when there is no other way out. COACH is instilling confidence. COACH is challenging these kids. COACH is a soft place to fall, if it was a bad day. Most importantly, COACH is there to remind our kids that they CAN DO IT. Parents can only do so much. Parents can love their kids through almost anything, but coaches—they’re a special kind human. They not only love kids through it, but they won’t allow kids to beat themselves up, and they are often the first person to high five our kids when they overcome a hurdle. Coaches are instilling grit in our kids, and we owe them one. Next time you see your child’s coach, thank them for what they do. They are a direct extension of the parents. Coaches, parents salute you.


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