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Ready, Set, Get Tough!

In 13 (short) weeks, I will be competing — and I use that term loosely — with a team in the Mid-Atlantic Tough Mudder Event. To give an overview of the obstacles I am committed to overcoming, I will submerge and swim through an ice tank, crawl through narrow, sloping pipes leading into frigid mud, slither under low-hanging live wires waiting to electrocute, leap over 4-foot high hurdles of kerosene flames, and so, so much more across the distance of 12 miles!


Why go through with this? Besides wanting to challenge myself and test my physical limits, the Tough Mudder raises awareness and funds for theWounded Warrior Project. This project is focused on reintegrating injured soldiers into society, and active lifestyles, with their programs.

If you are interested and able, please support me in the Tough Mudder event, on September 8th, by donating online here. The proceeds raised will assist many individuals and families struggling to deal with the injuries received in the line of duty. You contribution is greatly appreciated!



Life Skills: Courage To Stand Up To Peer Pressure

Teaching character and life skills to students

Having the courage to stand up to others and especially our friends may be one of the hardest things we may ever feel the need to do. It can by scary to do what we believe and know to be right when our friends are disagreeing with us. We do not want to lose the friends – but we don’t want to have those bad feelings inside ourselves for doing something that is not in line with our own values. Let alone the idea that we may as a child get in trouble with our parents.

Sometimes a young person will do something that they know is not right, does not fit the values and morals of their family, because their friends are doing it and they want to be like their friends. When that happens they have succumb to peer pressure. As an adult we must also remember what it was like to be a young person, trying to find their way and we should remember times that we did the same – caved in to peer pressure. In fact, even as an adult we still have peer pressure to deal with and it can be difficult for us too.

Every child should be taught by their parents, what I call “THE SECRET” to showing courage. You must decide and practice ahead of time what you will say and do for all situations that may come up in the future, prior to the time that our fear and emotions set in. You can be assured that all of our children will be approached at a very young age and encouraged by someone to smoke, steal something, cheat on a test or take drugs.

Practicing with our child what they will say and do will be how they have the courage to stand up to those tests. Without the practice we are sending our children out to the world with no skills or tools and we are just hoping that those long lectures we gave them will come back to them and they will do the right thing. By role-playing and practice we help them to know that they can do and say the right thing, “because it is the right thing to do”.


Life Skills: Courage to Get Uncomfortable

Teaching character and life skills to students

Courage is all about facing our fears and challenges with determination.  One of the biggest challenges we all face is going outside our comfort zone, trying something new or pushing past what we believe we are able to do.  It is very easy for us, especially adults, to get comfortable with what we are doing, and when faced with the opportunity to try something new – we may be intrigued – but not enough to give it full effort.

I love this quote – “The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” When we challenge ourselves we will find ourselves becoming better, more informed and more accomplished than we can even imagine.  Setting this example for our children and students is part of our responsibility to them.  We certainly do not want to see them going through life practicing mediocrity.



Life Skills: Teaching Courage and Empathy to Children

Teaching character and life skills to students

When we are scared all kinds of things happen to our body and mind.  Our teeth may get clinched, shoulders raised, wobbly voice or a very quiet one.  The look on our face changes and our heart begins to beat in a pattern that we feel it every time.  If we are scared by something startling us it may feel like all the blood is rushing out of our bodies.  Being scared affects everyone a little different, but I am sure you can identify what happens to you.

So when we have a child, what scares them may not seems so scary for us, but this is an opportunity to teach a couple of things.  First recognize the feelings that the child is having and help them to see you empathize with them, without validating that they should be afraid in this situation, unless it is an unsafe situation.  When they see us empathize, later they will be able to use this skill with others.

Then if the situation or the ‘scary thing’ really is safe, we want to reassure them that we are there for them and that that this is safe and it would be OK for them to try.  You may want to demonstrate for them, or be with them as they try.  The child needs to know that you believe it is safe and it is OK to try.  Once they have given it a try, praise them for their courage and explain that with courage we will accomplish things that we may otherwise pass by and miss the experience.



Showing Courage in Our Body Language

Teaching character and life skills to students

When we are scared, all of us have individual reactions. For some it may be that our hands get clinched into a fist, or it is our breathing that changes. It could be visible in our face or voice. Then there will be where we feel it inside our bodies. Is it in your chest, legs, shoulders or do your eyes get closed and you turn away.

What is interesting is that being brave or showing courage has a physiology too. When we are brave we stand tall, shoulders are back, chin is up and eyes are looking straight ahead and our voice is strong. The thoughts going through our head are more clear and not racing.

How do you act when you are scared? How do you feel when you are showing courage and being brave? The simple act of changing our physiology can affect how we are thinking and feeling. Helping our children see that when we let them know that a situation or activity is safe, they can change their physical bodies and feel brave. This will be followed by them being brave and having the courage to do what may have been scary to them.