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A tough world for adults and children

QuestionsIn the world that we live in today – all adults are facing the questions

  • Why do people discriminate against others?
  • How do I stand up against injustice?
  • How do I help or stand up for myself when I am being disrespected?
  • If I see someone else being humiliated, what should I do?

These are questions that adults are struggling with in their communities and trying to figure out how to deal with on an international scale.

If though we look at our children – they are going through the same questions – just on their scale.  In their groups they may be trying to figure out:

  • Why some kids are forming cliques that others they do not know are not allowed to be a part of?
  • Just because I am from a different country or have a different color skin – why do others make fun of me?
  • Why do some people tell me I can’t be friends with someone else?
  • How do I handle it when your best friend is really mean to others?
  • Will I always be the outsider and seen as a loser?

Sometimes we think that our young children do not see the injustices and the unfairness that is taking place in parts of their community or the world.  In fact, many of those same unfair behaviors and meanness is showing up in very young children.  Our children are facing an increasingly difficult environment – that assumes they are ready to understand and deal with all of the miscues of their own making along with the ones their friends make.

If you think your child is telling you everything that is going on in her life, that is not a good assumption.  They are dealing with very complicated social problems that are very confusing to them.  It is happening at younger and younger ages too.

Why is this the case?  Could it be that we the parents are pushing them to ‘grow up’ faster, by allowing them to do more adult activities, dress in more adult ways, permitting them to watch and imitate older media stars – who may or may not be such great examples?  Are we adults being influenced by the sophisticated marketing aimed at creating mini adults out of children with the latest in clothing, hair and attitude?

The prevention of bullying in both boys and girls starts with giving our children:

  • Purpose (family and personal mission)
  • Code of values
  • Optimism
  • Gratitude

Along with these 4 key skills and knowledge, they must also be given strategies to deal with the questions and battles that they face everyday, the same way us adults have to struggle with the questions that face us.  Balanced Life Skills is working to help families and individual children protect themselves and build a culture of peace and kindness in their family, community and the world.

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What would you do if..there is someone at the door?

What would you do if you were playing in the living room and someone knocked on your door, but your mom was busy?

answering-door7Today we suggested to our younger students that answering the door, even when they think they know who is at the door, is not their responsibility and that it is always the responsibility of the adult in the house.  The fact is that for a child to get into the ‘habit’ of answering the door can be a safety issue for the entire family.

Even as children get older they should learn some safety tips that we will discuss in the next section of this article.  How can we be sure that our children get into the ‘habit’ of telling mom and dad that someone is at the door?  I would suggest that even when you are standing right there, that you the parent opens the door, and you do not allow your child to do it for you.  It is too easy for the child to get used to opening the door and then forget when you are not in the room.

Even as adults the habits we get into are the ones we do when we are running on automatic.  I will tell the story of the police officer who was practicing gun disarms with fellow officers.  Wanting to get as many reps in as possible his partner would point the gun, the other officer would do the disarm, and then hand the gun back to his partner.  Over and over they went through this exercise.  Then one day the real deal took place.  The bad guy pointed a gun at the officer, he quickly disarmed the assailant and just as quickly handed the gun back to the bad guy.

If we do not want our child to open the door – then we must not practice opening the door with them.  Instead, randomly get your neighbor or friend to come over, knock on the door and see if your child responds the way you have been teaching them – to come and get you to answer the door.   You always practice what you want to do in the most stressful situation – not what you want to avoid.

Answering the door for teens and adults should also always be done using great care, no matter where you live. Here are self defense tips for everyone.

  • Think:
    • Am I expecting anyone?
    • Am I alone?
    • Do I recognize the vehicle? Is it marked properly?
  • Ask:
    • For identification
    • Call the company and check on the person (look the number up – do not use a number they give you.)
    • Take your phone with you to the door with your finger on the 911 speed dial
  • Don’t Be Afraid:
    • Take a photo of the visitor and their car. Tell them it is a precaution
    • Leave the house if you feel uncomfortable
    • Go to a neighbor or call police
    • Not to answer the door if you feel vulnerable

Self defense is not just about kicking and punching.  It is about protecting ourselves in all kinds of situations and knowing how to teach our children safety skills they can use for life.

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Fairness and our personal responsibility

fairnessIn a world where it seems that every child is awarded a trophy for just being on the team, for showing up – or because “he tried real hard”, the question comes up: Is it always fair for everyone to be in the same class, learning the same material at the exact same time and rate?  Is it fair for everyone to get everything in life equally without regard to the effort they put forth or the results they achieve?

Could it be that one child has more talent at this given time, has put forth more effort, spent more time practicing, and therefore is just better than another person who has put forth little effort and just expects that they will be awarded with a prize for showing up.

On the other side of that question – is it possible that there has been favoritism shown for some over others, they have been given preferable time to practice or the team has been built with only the best players.   Fairness is not just giving the same amount or same thing to everyone.  While it is important to give to all what they need and deserve, it is also important that when given that opportunity and what appears to be ‘more’ than others that we show appreciation by our own actions.
How disgraceful it would be, to be given the extra time and attention – and then not put forth the effort to improve, or to take for granted and just expect that we should always get that attention no matter what our own efforts and actions are.  Getting what we need, deserve and is appropriate comes with the responsibility to use it and put forth our own efforts to reach our goals.

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What is fair? Helping young people learn about fairness

its-not-fairWhat is fair?  When we are young the answer to that question may seem easier to answer than when we get older.  From a young person I can hear them saying – “Hey he got more than me – that’s not fair”, or “I wanted the red ones – that’s not fair”, or “I wanted to go first – that’s not fair”.  Then as a parent we are left to settle this situation.

Fairness is seen from the eye of the beholder.  When a particular need is not met, or if they do not get what they wanted, or feel like they have been slighted it may be seen as not being FAIR.  Being fair does not mean that everything will always be totally equal though, or that we will get everything that we want.  There are other factors that play into the question of fairness and it can get quite complicated and even messy.

Is this a fair division of the pie?

Is this a fair division of the pie?

For example, How would you divide a pie up if you had to serve eight people?  First reaction is divide the pie into 8 equal pieces and serve them equally.  When you learn that two of the eight were below the age of 3, two were teenage boys, and the rest were adults – would that change your answer?  Of course it would, as a 2 year old does not need as much as a teenage boy, in fact it would not be good for them.  What if one of the boys had an allergy to gluten, and would be sick from eating this pie?  Would that change what was fair then?  Should you even serve pie at all, is it fair for the others to forgo eating pie because of the allergy of one.

Your answers are most likely going to be based on your personal experiences and possibly on the influence of others who are with you at that moment.  In our discussions about fairness with our students, one of the big lessons learned was the need to listen to the thoughts of others.  When there is a dilemma of fairness, hearing many points of view and the arguments of others will help us formulate an answer to fairness.  

Helping our children to understand the guiding principles of fairness and then learn to combine them with other character skills like empathy and kindness, will create more peaceful relationships in our homes, classrooms and community.  This month we are discussing fairness with all of our students.  Their comments and viewpoints have been very interesting.

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Reduce anger by stress guarding your life

relaxThere is an interesting thought about stress and that is that stress is not bad for us.  Stress does not mess us up.  Our body’s reaction to the stress is the problem.  In the time period when ‘humans’ had to be aware of attacks from wild animals the stress was brief and acute.

But in today’s world we do not have to generally contend with lion attacks.  Instead of the stress being brief and acute though – the stress we deal with today is more mental and comes from worrying about things.  Our bodies are not designed to contend with that continuous, month after month, year after year of destructive overload of stress.  It is this kind of stress that produces all sorts of long lasting negative effects.   Not the least of which results in ANGER.

We were not built to deal with continuous acute stress – raising our blood pressure, building plaque in our arteries and leading to heart attacks.  How can you stress guard your life?  While these steps are simple and while there is really no way to completely eliminate stress nor would you really want to do that – you can take some steps to reduce your stress and promote peace in your life.

  1. Exercise – Walking, running, martial arts, yoga are all simple ways of staying active.
  2. Diet – A healthy diet with reduced sugar intake and affect your mood and coping ability.
  3. Sleep – Not enough sleep or having it interrupted at the wrong times can make you feel more stressed and irritable.
  4. Relaxation / Meditation – Simple deep breathing both when you are feeling stress and just as a practice can help you cope with the daily issues that are facing you.

Managing anger begins with taking care of ourselves and managing stress.  Just knowing that we are doing the right things for ourselves puts us on the right path.

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