How to Talk to Kids about Big Feelings and Calming Down | Gracie PAC MMA
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My wife and I were looking for a friendly, family oriented MMA classes for our son (10) and daughter (12). They love martial arts and have been doing it for years, in an after school program (TKD). Well, after looking around, we joined Gracie PAC MMA. Let me tell you, this place is perfect. Their staff and coaches are incredible; friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and experience on everything MMA. Professor Cris Rodriguez is great with kids, amazing teacher. We are extremely happy with Gracie MMA, their staff is great, they are very organize and their curriculum (bjj, muay thai, kick boxing, etc....) has everything we were looking for. Great place for the entire family.

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Come train with the BEST! This is NOT your normal after school karate class. We were amazed at the amount of technique even the youngest students pick up after just a few classes. Coach Cris is awesome with the kids. She expects more then just good fighting from them. She stays involved with how they are doing in school and at home, giving her students the incentive to be the best at everything they do.

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I have been looking for a great exercise program to get involved in and finally found it here. I have learned so much in the two months I have been here and can't wait to continue to get stronger. Love This place!! Coach Cris is the best at making me not want to give up.

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PAC MMA is fitness for the whole family. Kids programs, adult classes and even the best woman's fitness and self defense around, this is the place to go. Make your family a part of the PAC family.

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Best place ever! My daughter attends the after school program there and she loves it. I just started taking the kickboxing class & it's the best class I have ever taken. Everyone there is awesome.

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I can't say enough about how much I love this place! My son is learning so much and he LOVES going to class. There's something so rewarding in watching your child learn and grow so quickly :) Coach Chris, Coach Dan and Coach Rich have all been amazing! I couldn't ask for a better environment for my son. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and so much of yourself - we truly appreciate it!

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Heard thru word of mouth. Then checked it out and noticed great character in their students and the attentive staff. The coach had noticeable rapport with the kids in the class. My daughter loved it. She can't wait to get back. She even cleaned her room! Huge plus.

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Gracie PAC MMA has been one of, if not the best, mixed martial arts gym I have been a part of. The kids program/instruction is second to none, and offers world class BJJ instruction for adults as well as one of the most promising striking programs in the US, Bang Muay Thai. Countless kids and adults have competed at the highest level under the GPAC banner, with even more discovering what martial arts can do for them. Whether you want to compete or get in great shape, this facility has the program for you

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Our family has been coming to Gracie PAC Tampa for nearly two years. We began sending our son first. Our main goals were for him to experience the physical and mental benefits derived from regular physical exercise. Instantly we realized how special this place is, and how amazing Coach Cris is with the kids, as well as adults. She is fair but firm, and as she commands respect, she encourages these kids to rise to their full potential, also providing valuable discussions on character, sportsmanship, and leadership, as part of her curriculum.

My husband takes some of the adult jiu jitsu and kickboxing classes, from which he has benefitted greatly, and I truly enjoy being a member of the ladies' bootcamp group. These ladies represent a wide range of fitness levels and ages. Each class, we all get together to kick butt, do our best, and encourage each other in a true team environment. I never leave this class disappointed.
Gracie PAC Tampa MMA - best place EVER for your anyone in your family to train at.

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Well it's about time I write a review! My boys joined Gracie PAC as little Ninjas about 4 months ago. They absolutely love it! Professor Cris is an amazing teacher! She's very enthusiastic about teaching and she is very patient. My boys love going to class. They are 4 &7 . They never want to miss a class. They have learned so much and continue to learn with each class. They love earning strips on their belt. This is a really great positive atmosphere for kids and families. I'm very satisfied with our experience.

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I took Jiu Jitsu a few years back at another facility and decided to give this one a try. I took my first lesson last night and could not believe the content. Very structured and professional. Easy to learn and everyone was eager to assist me being the new guy. Other places teach you a couple of moves. Each involving many steps and you still won't understand it. Garcia PAC teaches you a technique and teaches you other techniques that involve some of the same steps. It made me confident that if I try something and am not able to secure the submission, then I can roll into another technique just as easy and It gives you options and makes you think. I liked that approach rather than what I was given in the past. A+ school and is 100% legit. I am confident this time around I will take it all the way with my training. When you find a place like this you take advantage of the opportunity to train there.

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We love it at Gracie PAC! They focus on fitness, strength, form, and most importantly they work hard every lesson to help teach my children how to effectively defend themselves against bullies and other attacks. It's easy to see this group of educators clearly loves kids and have a passion for sharing their vast knowledge with their students! Best MMA in the Bay for kids!

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I took my first class tonight. As soon as you enter, you are greeted by smiling faces who are just as excited to have you there as you are to be there. The coaches there were phenomenal. They were so incredibly encouraging and patient, it was a breeze picking it up because there was no pressure. Great job at creating such an inviting atmosphere.

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How to Talk to Kids about Big Feelings and Calming Down

As a parent, teacher or martial arts instructor, you might have had moments where children experience overwhelming feelings such as anger, anxiety or agitation leading to fitful moments, tantrums and melt-downs. Who hasn’t? Statistics tell us that 20% of young children have tantrums daily—this is normal. And as children get older, some still have trouble dealing with over-the-top feelings. And let’s be honest- at times these feelings don’t only challenge children—but they challenge us, as adults, as well.

Important Messages:

    • Research over the past 10 years or so the body of research on the importance of self-regulation in early childhood has grown. We now see self-regulation skills including the ability to attend to the words and action of others, think through our actions and manage our emotions and impulses as foundational skills. These skills underlie our ability to learn, behave and socialize.
    • In Bloom, Musical Thinking and 70 Play Activities, Lynne Kenney and her colleagues provide direct instruction to children about how their brain is built and how it works. They identify The Thinker, Caveman and Boots as integral parts of our brain and they teach children how to use their cognitive skills or executive functions to coach their brains into more adaptive thoughts, words and actions.
    • When we teach children, it is the process of how they think and not only the content they learn that makes them better prepared to succeed in school, sports and life, we take the mystery out of thinking and self-regulation empowering eh children to build mastery, and confidence as they become more skillful.
    • Planning previewing, practicing a better end to the story the next time. “Remember, you said you’d put your special dinosaurs on the other side of the room, and the dinosaurs your brother could play with on this side of the room…”
    • The vagal, vestibular and auditory systems are underutilized as tools for calming and self-regulation. While every child is different, often tapping into these systems can calm a child in anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.
    • Children co-regulate with us. If we are calm, children are more likely to stay calm.
    • Activate the thinker and calm the caveman: If you haven’t planned, practiced and prepared for the escalation, then everyone will get triggered and flip over the mountain.
    • Self-regulation is your ability to manage your energy state in a specific circumstance when things are going well or NOT going well. Self-regulation is energy management!
    • Teach children about “swaddle.” It doesn’t have to be a weighted blanket- it could be socks, hat over the ears, provide them a play where they can “go inward.” An older child can simply close their eyes and go within.
    • Sway: May I hold your hand? (You don’t always need to say; “I see you,” you can turn it around to “I feel me.” “I feel stressed, could we sway together?” Go slowly! “Can you lead me?” You can mirror without touch.
    • Sing: Just start singing. When things aren’t working, just start singing.
    • Best moment is when the kids start using these strategies with friends.
    • Mantra: My child isn’t trying to make me angry. I’m trying to get calm so my child can get calm.
    • Don’t have to consequence in the moment- think about getting calm first!
    • Change your physical level with your child- shows your child they are no longer threatened. Sit on the floor.
    • Use these skills to calm your children:
      • Empathy and Action: Your feelings look really BIG, may I hold them for you.
      • Movement: Bounce a ball
      • Cognitive-Motor: Do a switch task, hold this, now may I hold it, now can you hold it in your left hand, now can you pass it to my right hand.
      • Vagal: Hum, sing, chant, deep breaths
      • Vestibular: Rock, sway, swing, bounce and rock (the rocking V)
      • Olfaction: Pleasing smells, essential oils
      • The Music Carpet Ride
      • Wrap like a burrito
      • Music such as The Listening Program – fully orchestrated music
      • Anger mountain 

Notable Quotables:

  • “When our brain is young or developing, often we have really powerful wants, needs and expectations. And often when we are 
  • young…we don’t have the cognitive capacity to recognize that we are having a want, need or expectation. So we think the world is just going to respond to us as we expect. And then when it doesn’t, we actually experience physiologically, a sense of loss or grief.” ~Dr. Lynne Kenney
  • “We want to be connected and calm. We want to be liked. Children are not wishing to have a tantrum and throw themselves on the floor. They want to know what to do in the moment so they can feel better themselves.” ~Dr. Lynne Kenney
  • “When a child is having a tantrum or a fit or being cognitively inflexible or really difficult, that is not a choice. That is a biological, physiologically response.” ~Dr. Lynne Kenney
  • “We all have big feelings. The thing is, we want to have the skills to cope with our big feelings in a way that continues to keep us calm and connected with ourselves and with others.” ~ Dr. Lynne Kenney
  • When a child doesn’t have the skills yet: “Come over here with me and let’s get quiet together.” ~Dr. Lynne Kenney
  • “When things are not working, start singing!” ~Dr. Lynne Kenney
  • “If you are out of control, sit down and just breathe.” ~Dr. Lynne Kenney
  • When a child needed to get calm; “would you like to close your eyes and go within?”
  • “Your cognitive thoughts and mantras will drive your behavior.”
  • “Don’t feel like you always have to change or punish or consequence in the moment, think about getting calm first.”
  • “It’s important to get in there and have the conversation with your child to prepare for the next time to put an ending and a closure on what just happened [the tantrum, the escalation] so that they learn from it and then they can move forward and start at a point that is different from where they started this time.” ~Dr. Robyn Silverman