Radical Candor – it’s not just entertaining
A bodybuilder is standing in the dog park on Grape Street with his bulldog who is frolicking in the shade of the nearby picnic table. From a distance, I see my son Mikey, walking – laser focused – toward the pair. I know what’s coming. I walk over as fast as I can to intervene and explain my very large 11-year-old. I hear:
Mikey: “Why are your muscles so puffy and big? Is it because it makes you look more like your very cute dog?”
Body-Builder (looking up at my son – and clearly guessing from the cadence that he is… different): “I build my muscles out to be like this because it makes me feel happy. I really like the way they look.”
Mikey: “Oh, ok.” (gently pats the stranger’s arm) “May I pat your dog?”
(you see we worked on “may I pat your dog”, not “may I pat you”… sigh.)
Not everyone is good with so much candor. The bodybuilder was fine. The beautifully dressed young woman with acne scars was less ok with his candid questions. The thing is., he’s not trying to be mean. In fact, if he thinks it’s mean he will, with great physical effort, hold the comment for later.
If your child is a blurter, you may have tried many different things to control that urge to wiggle, jump, call out and seek input, touch strangers, tell secrets. And they’ve probably all failed.
Impulse Control and Executive Function
The problem isn’t that they want more of your attention. The problem is impulse control, self regulation and… executive function. Executive function is something that comes more easily to some of us than others.
It is like learning to do a cartwheel. Some children do it very naturally. Others require a lot of guidance and practice to get it right. And a few of us feel like it is nearly impossible. However, nearly every child is capable of doing it with the right support, guidance and practice.
The good news is that the underlying skills of executive function and attention can be trained. The Attention Arcade trains attention skills. One of those skills is inhibitory control – the ability to stay on task even when there is a distraction. Distractions can be external (squirrel!), or they can also be internal — the desire to share something that just occurred to you, to ask a question, whatever the consequences.
Attention training can help students realize when it is not appropriate to blurt something out in class (and in life). With training, they might be able to write down a question and ask it later. What an improvement that would be for the student (learning self control), the teacher (spending more time on teaching), and the rest of the class (not being distracted by students blurting out answers) and the people who we meet every day who should not have to explain acne scars, puffy muscles or other differences.
Managing Candor, Improving Self-Control
While radical candor can be entertaining (I did have a really hysterical laugh that evening telling my BFF), it definitely inhibits relationships. When we can improve self-control and manage the flow of radical candor, everyone benefits, from school to life to relationships.
Help your child improve attention skills, including executive function and inhibitory control with the Attention Arcade. It is a fun way to improve attention skills and help manage that radical candor.