Tag Archive: personality development program for kids

Music, Brain Development & Personality

In the first few years of life, each child’s brain develops complex network of brain structures and schemas that lay the foundation of more mature processes such as emotional development, facilitate decision making and shape the persona. Experiences of children during preadolescence and adolescence greatly impact their later lives,  affected by the architecture of their brains. This also impacts their future learning skills and capacities.

According to a major research by Janet DiPietro (2000), during the years between 9-13, a child’s brain starts a process during which it eliminates unnecessary neural connections and schemas and starts focussing on the maintenance of the associations that it uses. These associations are made very rapidly based on the child’s environment and even small stimuli that a child comes in contact with.Music and Personality development

The importance of music and its role in a child’s brain development and personality development is an important debate in education psychology today. Music is universal and cross-cultural studies show that all children who are given exposuree to music have faster brain development with stronger neural connection and better emotional development. Brain reacts to music to de-stress thus leading to better stress management capabilities and reduces cases of depression and anxiety. Music therapy is an upcoming concept becoming more and more popular and successful in helping children cope with stress and anxiety.

Music and language have always been used as modes of expression. There is music to express any kind of emotion and feelings. Music has the capability to encourage creativity and intellectual development of a child.

Music also activates the right hemisphere of the brain, thus impacting right side processes such as creativity, artistic expression, musical intelligence, intuition, expression of emotions, reading/recognizing other’s emotions, recognizing faces and color etc. Thus, it becomes imperative to add music to children’s routine activities and life, stimulating their brains and intellectual development.

At Smart Shrubs, music, dramatics and aesthetics module focuses on training participants make use of music and aesthetics to cope with stress, stimulate creativity and make it a part of their routine perception, thus shaping their personalities and decision making capabilities.


Culture and Child Development

Culture is most commonly defined as set of ideas, behaviours, values, beliefs, traditions and attitudes that exist and are followed by large group of people usually living in a similar society, in a given time frame and coming in contact with similar circumstances. ‘ Cultural Values’ as we refer to it are usually passed on from generation to generation. They become the typical means in which we give upbringing to our children.

Any society undergoes a cultural shift from time to time, specially with changes in technology and mobilisation of parents. For example, you may have noticed that parents who have moved out of the country because of their jobs or have chosen to immigrate, their children usually follow the cultural norms of the adopted country/city but at home they are taught the same values as their parents have been. With internet being accessible, smart phones, play stations etc. one can notice that the playing behaviour of children has changed over time and just over one generation; and because of the exposure, children are ‘growing up faster’, and by that I mean they are becoming more mature in some ways and losing out on learning on others. Thus culture and child development are closely related.Culture

Cultural bearings also have an important effect on the communication skills and communication patterns of children. By this, we don’t only refer to the language they speak, but also the non verbal language and the nuances and acceptable and unacceptable behaviours and words. The intrinsic attitude that is imbibed during communication with others is loaded with the culture the speaker has learnt. The interpretation by the receiver is also unconsciously affected by the cultural background. Thus there will always be some loss of message unless we form strict rules or become part of the same organization and learn the new ‘sub-culture’.

It becomes important to have preadolescents and adolescents become aware about how culture affects their self concept. There is an important link between self and culture. It plays an important role in formation of self identity and attributes. Children are born with no culture at all. It is when they come in contact with the social surroundings as they grow up, they learn to define their world, and thus culture and place themselves in this world, forming their self concept and identity.

Culture comprises of a lot of symbols–like language, traditions etc. Culture, its meaning and understanding–the immediate environment, the geographical and then the concepts that are taken as universal are pivotal and affect development of emotions, behaviour patterns, thought patterns, decision making capabilities leadership skills and  long term visions and trajectories as well as self esteem and formation of self.

At Smart Shrubs, we understand how important this is in a child’s development. Thus we focus on the overall theme of culture and help our participants understand the essence and fundamentals so that their mind becomes free of the shackles and they reach a stage of self development from where they can make fair choices.

The Little Scientists : Personality Development

Personality Development “Children think differently than adults”–its a famous quote by Jean Piaget, who mostly influenced the modern thought in cognitive and developmental psychology.

According to Piaget, children go through four key process or changes which spans into adulthood and greatly shapes their cognitive thoughts and thus helps in personality development. Children actively explore the world and environment around them. Therefore, they are little scientists on a voyage of observation and assimilation.

The Sensorimotor stage (from infancy to 2 years): The environment is explored and knowledge is gained by infants through their sensory experiences and manipulation of objects around them.

The Preoperational stage ( from 2 years to 7 years):  At this stage, children learn through ‘free play’. They are aware of the rules of the game but struggle with logical explanations for changing rules and being open to the idea that others can have a different point of view or different opinions

The Concrete Operational stage (from 7 years to 11 years): At this stage, continuing from the previous stage, children find it difficult to change the rules and methodologies. But at the same time, they begin to understand that there are different logical explanations to same experience. The understanding of the abstract and hypothetical starts.

The Formal Operational stage (from adolescence to adulthood): Logic is assimilated and given as an explanation to events and experiences. Children begin to understand the hypothetical and gain the abilities to understand deductive reasonings understanding of abstracts ideas.

Children also acquire important adaptive and cognitive concepts such as schemas, assimilation, accommodation. 

Schemas refer to categories that children form of knowledge and information that help them interpret the environment, objects, people and events. It includes both category of knowledge and process of acquisition of knowledge.

Assimilation is a process taking or adding new information to the set schemas. It is subjective in nature because children modify the information or experience to fit in the already existing schemas.

Accommodation is the process in which children modify or alter the existing schemas because they have received some new/very different information which does not fit any existing schemas.

Equilibration –all children aim to acquire a balance between the process of assimilation and accommodation.

Equilibration is an important concept since children want to strike a balance between using existing knowledge, acquiring new knowledge and forming new schemas. It is the state of equilibration that helps them move from one stage to another.

All children go through these stages naturally. But when given the right training and exposure to right concepts, the schemas they form are more facilitative and broader in quality. This helps enhance their problem solving skills, becoming more creative as well as attaining a higher understanding of logic.

Parents play an important role in this process. A facilitative environment by parents is a must in appropriate acquisition of these stages.

The journey so far!

SmartShrubs is a wonderful journey that the I and the participants take together.

When I start the day with my first batch and meet kids, they are full of enthusiasm and ready for imbibing more skills. Can you ever stop children from learning more and more? The answer is never.  Gradually, they are becoming more aware about their environment. Through tasks that require them to observe, assume and interpret, they are getting to know the world better. Every second of the day, first consciously and then unconsciously, they are absorbing.

It is so satisfactory to see them grow. To be able to make a contribution and see how they are evolving. The first day when they came for the very first class, to the loud laughter and fun they have, and deep down inside they know that they are gaining something and becoming more skilled. The difference I see in their communication patterns between the first day and end of the second week is remarkable! For honesty sakes, I never imagined that they would imbibe so fast.

A mix of exercises–role plays, discussions, debates over topics that would just push them to imagine and create, the rewards to keep them motivated–these are sessions that they look forward to!

Children are much aware nowadays in comparisons to previous generations. Every day, they decide for themselves, from the given choices, what would they like to learn today! And wow! the list is both amazing and satisfactory!

The best part–when participants just never look at their watches and just want the sessions to go on and on and in the end when they ask me to extend the time! This is when I know, that they are following the rule “Never make classes boring” and they truly are enjoying what they are learning.




Communication-Transaction Analysis

The model of Transaction Analysis was first given by Eric Berne–a theory for analyzing the interaction between human behavior and communication. While many would believe that its most important implication lies in professional life, but nevertheless, pre-adolescents and -adolescents already show a preference to one kind or way of communication over another.

The assumptions behind the model are:

  • Everyone is both OK
  • Each person should be accepted as they are
  • People take responsibility of self
  • People modify their behavior to seek physical and emotional nurturing from others

According to the PAC model, based on the childhood experiences and role models, personality can have three ego states (ego states are one of the sources of behavior):

  • Parent Ego state (Nurturing Parent Ego State & Critical Parent Ego State)
  • Adult Ego State (Objective, Ethical in character)
  • Child Ego State ( Free Child/Natural Child Ego state & Adaptive Ego State)

Transaction Analysis takes into account the interaction between different ego states in people. There can be multiple ways or types of interactions that determine the behavior.

It is not only verbal, but non verbal or body language (known as ‘strokes’) also that form a part of interaction or communication.

An individual always works from different ego states in a lifespan or in different situations. Being aware about ego states. both of one’s own as well as others, helps determines the relevant mode of ego state communication/interaction to attain the final purpose of communication.


journey so far copyRobert J. Sternberg, a cognitive psychologist, defined creativity as “…the process of producing something that is both original and worthwhile.” Creativity is a built-in perspective of approaching problems and situations in a novel way. This novelty is not abstract but applicable to solving problems. Thus, creativity is an important aspect of problem solving skills.

While in a group, the goal might be same, but creativity involves reaching the goal in most efficient and different manner. For example, all students may be required to write an essay on same topic, but they may have different approach to do their research work about the topic, like different points, elaborate on different areas and finally each one will write a different essay. But the student who will write a concise, concrete essay with most relevant information will be awarded the maximum marks.

Creativity can be developed.  It is a concept, a habit, a perspective that can be learned. Unlike the common belief that creativity lies in the abstract, it involves a detailed methodology behind any behavior. One needs to be thorough with the problem at hand, well researched, as well as work towards becoming an expert. An expertise is essential since it gives one all the relevant information required in order to reach the most efficient solution in least time.

Appropriate levels of risk taking behavior is also a part of creativity. This is what is referred to “thinking out of the box”. Taking the minimalist risk of moving out of the comfort zone and thinking innovative enhances creativity. Of course, one may not always be correct, therefore, chances of learning from past mistakes/failures should be given and leveraged upon.

Training oneself in creativity is one of the best means to develop it. Engaging regularly in creative decisions, projects, assignments, approaches (even it means a trial and error method) helps build confidence in oneself and enhances creative skills.

Most importantly, it is of utmost importance to think positively and approach situations, people and problems with an optimistic approach. Focusing on giving oneself a chance/opportunity to be creative helps is more efficient decisions and negative moods hamper creative thinking. Therefore, being in positive/good mood is the key ingredient of creativity.

Emotional Intelligence

“IQ and emotional intelligence are not opposing competencies, but rather separate ones…. All of us mix IQ and emotional intelligence in varying degrees.” Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence. 

Emotional Intelligence has four fundamentals–Self awareness (the ability to identify your own emotions and their impact); self management (the ability to manage, control your emotions and behavior); social awareness (the ability to recognize and understand other’s emotions and react appropriately),  relationship management (the ability to influence and contact others).brain-20424_640

Emotional Intelligence is a personality trait that can be developed over time with right learning. Recent research shows that higher Emotional Intelligence (EI) is associated with better transition from school to University and improved graduate employability.

Emotional Intelligence is also important in order to have frank discussions and come up with new insights as well as dealing with everyday problems creatively. Researches have found out that people high in EI are better leaders since they are sensitive towards the emotionality of the environment and can communicate their messages accordingly for most apt understanding. A skillful use of EI involves both feelings and thinking.

Emotional Intelligence also plays a role in moral reasoning. Researchers have also found that people with drug abuse and addictions have very low EIs and are less emotionally healthy in comparison to those who are not.

Because of the direct (and indirect) influences of EI on different personality traits such as team work, leadership etc, and the role it plays in problem solving and being in situations dealing with people ( or even self), EI becomes an important part of one’s development. The good news is that unlike IQ which is mostly innate, EI can be developed over time with right training.



Communication definition in its simplest form is transmission of a message from sender to the receiver via a medium. Your message may be affected by large noise during transmission (usually referred to as attenuation), making it imperative to make that the medium for the message is chosen appropriately. Also, for effective communication, it is important that the sender understands the receiver or audience; this is to ensure that the message is understood to the best of capacity and with least distortions or changes in the meaning.Communication

As we all know, communication can be both verbal  and non verbal. Only 30% of our communication is verbal while 70% is non verbal. Thus, if you are verbally giving someone a message which is happy, but the tone is sad or the body language and expressions are some depicting some other feeling/emotion (this by the ways is extremely difficult to do), a person would most likely decipher the message as your non verbal expression/emotion.

Usually 8 Cs are referred to for effective verbal communication.

  • Clear.
  • Concise.
  • Concrete.
  • Correct.
  • Coherent.
  • Complete.
  • Credible
  • Creative

For your message, it is extremely important that the information is well researched, correct, concise and is remembered. A creative medium chosen to transmit the message will also help to remember it.

It is also extremely important to practice and master controlling non verbal communication. Most people only think of it as body language, but it also includes, expressions such as the tone, pitch, voice modulation etc. Scientific research on nonverbal communication and behavior began with the 1872 publication of Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.  Since then, there has been ample research on non verbal communication. Mostly, there are 8 ways through which we communicate non verbally

  • Facial Expression
  • Gestures
  • Paralinguistics
  • Body Language and Posture
  • Proxemics (Personal space)
  • Eye Gaze
  • Haptics (communication through touch)
  • Appearance

A closely related area, Emotions, was studied by Paul Ekman in the 60s, He identified six facial expressions that are identified universally–happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise.

To be able to deliver the full impact of message, effective communication skills are important. While it is affected by many factors, communication skills can be improved through learning and practice.