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Life Skills: Loyalty – Keeping Secrets – Should I Tell?

Teaching character and life skills to students

Our children are met with so many confusing messages for them and keeping secrets is one of them.  We want our children to know how to keep a secret, how to be loyal to a friend who has entrusted them with a personal thought or feeling.  At the same time as adults we know that they can be asked to keep things secret that they really need to talk to an adult about.  It may be about one of their friends who is considering doing something that is not safe, fair or even lawful.  Even more so, some adults may tell a child not to tell anyone about something that we know they should report to us, so we can keep them safe.  Here are some questions we can teach our children to use to decide if they should keep the secret or if they should tell their mom and dad, teacher or principle, or some other trusted adult.

 

If the child is under the age of 5 we will give them two questions:

1. How does it feel? If it makes you feel happy – this is a secret you can and should keep. (like a surprise birthday party)  If it makes you uncomfortable, if you get a funny feeling inside your stomach and you don’t think it is a good idea or is right – then you must tell an adult.  If you are not sure it is always OK to tell an adult.

 

2. Will it hurt someone? Explain to your child that if the secret they have been asked to keep may hurt someone or someone may get hurt if they do what they say they are going to do, then they need to tell an adult.

 

If your child is 5 or 6 years old teach them questions one and two and then add this question to their decision making process.

3.  Will I be proud of the choice I made? This is a great question for anyone to consider in making any decision.  How will I feel if someone gets hurt?  If I don’t tell, will I be proud of myself?

 

If your child is 7 or older teach them all of the above questions and then add this question to their decision making process.

4.  Am I reporting to get help or to get someone in trouble? No child wants to get labeled as untrustworthy or not loyal to keeping a secret.  They also do not want to be called a tattle-tale.  So they need to consider why they are telling.  Do they see that if they don’t tell, someone might get hurt or that something is being done that is wrong?  They must feel comfortable in asking for help and being able to tell the difference in – just trying to get someone in trouble or getting help in solving a bad situation.

 

Parents: Children should never keep secrets about touching.  If you are interested in how to talk to your children about ‘good touch / bad touch’ , Balanced Life Skills would be happy to present a workshop for parents on this subject.  I know this seems hard to do.  But we will break it down for you to make it easier.  Just contact us for more information.

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Teaching character and life skills to students

Today we asked in regard to loyalty – What if some one was being mean to another student?  What would you do?  Virtually all students said they would ask them to stop, take the target away from the mean person or tell a teacher.  Unfortunately research shows that not to be true.  Most children will internalize the event and be very concerned about being the next target.
Loyalty to your friend is difficult during a time like this.  If we talk to our children about loyalty, and role play with them what they could do, or be comfortable doing they will be more likely to be able to muster the courage to stand up for their friend.
The most important thing they can do though is to stand with or stick with their friend – not abandoning them when others are being mean.  Just saying to their friend, I am still your friend, I believe in you, lets go sit over here and eat with these friends will help the target not feel so ostracized.

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Life Skills: Loyalty to our Community

Teaching character and life skills to students

Today we asked an interesting question to our students about loyalty in the classroom and their schools.  What if you saw someone writing in a library book or on the walls in your school?  What would you do?  The comments went from telling them to stop it, asking them to stop and then be more firm about it, to telling the teacher.  The courage it takes to speak up for what is the right thing to do can only be taught from their own personal sense of right and wrong.  How and why they stand up is just as important.  So we discussed the difference of tattling and reporting to the teacher.  One student stated that tattling is with the hope to get the other student in trouble, while reporting is doing what is right.

Loyalty to our school and community would encourage us to keep the library books clean and available to everyone else.   Showing respect for our environment, both the green one and our surroundings, encourages us to be loyal to the value of keeping things neat and clean for everyone.   So we would tell an authority if we need to about any crossing of that line.

What communities do each of us belong to that we can show loyalty and how do we show loyalty?  Discussing this with our children will give them the courage to stand up for and be loyal to all of their communities that support them.  I believe it is our communities that help to strengthen us and our children into being better citizens.

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Life Skills: Loyalty in the Family

Teaching character and life skills to students

We first learn about loyalty from our family.  Our family is the closest relationships we will ever have, and so we can understand that if there is a breakdown in the relationships, a break of loyalty, that we can be affected for a very long time – not knowing who we can trust.  Our children will learn in the family what it means to always be there for someone and how to stick up for someone who needs a friend by the way they are treated in the family.

Each member of the family, by keeping their promises, by not sharing others secrets or personal thoughts is both teaching and learning about loyalty.  But loyalty needs to go both ways though.  While it is the responsibility of parents to be loyal to their children, children must also demonstrate loyalty to the family and each member of the family.

They learn this by making and keeping promises and tying those promises back into the idea of loyalty.  If a child promises to help their family out by keeping their room clean or picking up their toys in the family room – they need to keep those promises as an act of loyalty.  When promises are kept we have the opportunity to praise our children for showing loyalty.  As they understand this better they will also learn to stand up for their brothers and sisters if they are the target of mean words or worse.

 

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Life Skills: Loyalty – How To Be Loyal To Our Values

Teaching character and life skills to students

Loyalty is another one of those qualities that we hope that we see in our children, loyal to their family, friends, and teammates – but at the same time loyal to morals, values and ethics that they have been taught by us as parents and teachers.  This can be tough for adults and children though.   What if our friend is making what we believe are bad choices, is it OK to speak up or is that tattling?  What if the culture in our school seems to be allowing bullying?  How can we speak up to our teachers and classmates and still be loyal to them?

Loyalty infers that we will be responsible and dependable.  Loyalty asks us to be trustworthy and faithful.  If there is a situation where bullying is overlooked we would be showing responsibility if we spoke up and said, “In our school we should treat each other with respect!”   We would not do this in a complaining manner.  If we see a problem we can acknowledge the issue, but in being true to our values we will also want to offer ideas for a solution.  It may not be the final answer, but we could start a conversation with all parties involved – students, teachers and parents – to improve the culture of the school.  Now we are being loyal to our friends and our school while standing up for the values that we believe in.

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