The number one rule to build self-reliance in kids

word of month character

Self-reliance is the goal of parents for their children so that when they get older and out on their own they can function and accomplish the day to day tasks of life. There are several virtues needed to attain this life skill of self-reliance. Our child will be building their confidence, independence, dependability, patience, flexibility, and trust – self-trust.

When our child is very young, just a baby, they depend on us for everything. We feed them, dress them, and get them from one place to another. Later they learn to crawl and walk, start using eating utensils and dressing while becoming self-reliant. They start making choices about what they will wear, who they want to be friends with, and make judgments about what is right and wrong, fair or unfair. While we are excited to see them growing up it can be difficult too. As they take on these new areas of life, they are building their self-reliance.

From the parents perspective helping our children grow their self-reliance requires us also to be confident, patient, flexible and trusting. The number one rule in building self-reliance is not to do for a child what they can do for themselves. What we know as an adult is that every new thing we try may not come quickly at first. With practice though, a few mess ups and coaching we can improve.

When helping our child develop their self-reliance, we will give them the opportunities without judgment to try new things, practice, mess up while we coach them through the process. Setting our expectations at a developmentally appropriate scale and allowing mistakes and imperfections as learning experiences will build their confidence. Even while the child is learning to make judgment calls, we can coach them through the process of decision making and allow them to deal with the consequences that come up so they learn to make choices that will be the best for them.

Building self-reliance can be a bit messy while in the middle of the process. However, the result of seeing our child making choices that are best for them, taking care of household chores on their own, getting up in the morning by themselves and other things without prompting from us the parents is worth celebrating. Self-reliance is about depending on ourselves and trusting our choices. Parenting is about educating, guiding, correcting in a way, so our children grow up with self-reliance.

Loyalty is faithfulness, integrity and trustworthiness

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We have spent some time discussing loyalty from the viewpoint of how others treat us, but just as important is how we show devotion to our family, values, morals and what we believe. Loyalty is intimately connected to faithfulness, integrity, and trustworthiness.

When I think about faithfulness to my family, I want to be sure to speak up for them, not speak poorly of them, giving them the respect they deserve as a family member. This is true for how we talk about our friends, community, schools, teams and other groups or organizations to which we belong. If there is a need to make corrections with them or to guide them in a different direction doing so in a manner that is disrespectful is not showing loyalty to them or our higher self.

Our integrity to our beliefs will keep us loyal to living our best selves in both public and private ways. How duplicitous it would be to be one kind of person at school and another at home. Or what if we supported a friend to their face and talked about them when they were not around? Keeping the integrity of our morals, values, and ethics no matter where we are or who we are with may take courage at times but is the practice of loyalty.

Trustworthiness grows when everyone knows who we are, what we stand for, and that we keep our word and commitments when we make them to a person, place or cause. Staying loyal to ourselves strengthens our courage to stand up for what is right. Living our life based on the principles we believe in grows our trust in ourselves and that of others around us.

With loyalty, our first commitment is to the truth.

Loyalty to aging parents sets example for our children

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Loyalty is about our commitment to a person, place or a cause that we stick up for and stay with through thick and thin, good times and bad. When a person is loyal to us, we know we can depend on them to be there for us, that their promises will be kept. We have faith in them, and we trust them to help us when things are not going well.

All of us have people in our lives that we know will be there for us when we are sick, worried, upset or even scared. Unfortunately, we also have most likely experienced the loss of relationships due to a lack of loyalty, which leads us to believe they are not trustworthy. In any event, loyalty is what we find first and most of the time in the family though even that can change over time.

Loyalty inside the family is where most of us learn our lessons about loyalty and so helping our children appreciate that we are a team that must stick together to get our mission accomplished and supports each other even in the worst of times. I often think about this generation today that finds themselves between their parents and their children and how to balance those loyalties when they become time-consuming.

Caring for aging parents while raising our children is a problematic situation that needs balance along with understanding and empathy. What I do know is the way we talk about dealing with our parents as they get older and need our loyalty more than ever before in their life with and front of our children will be one of the ways they learn to view loyalty. I often think about dealing with elderly parents and the example it sets for our children. I believe that later in life, the way we viewed and carried out these responsibilities will be how our children treat us as we age.

We learn about loyalty and what it looks like much the same as we learn how our family views and values other virtues. Setting that example may determine how our children respond to difficult circumstances in the future.

Gifts of Character: Self-Reliance – The Definition

word of month character

Each month we will discuss one life skill with all of our students. This month’s skill is Self-Reliance. This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students:  “I can do it by myself!”

Older students: Self-trust, relying on your own judgments, powers or abilities to get things done.

We are not your typical after school activity, in fact, we are an education center, working with students on physical self-defense skills while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts. We believe every child has 52 gifts in them already. They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life. Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers, and students to reach that goal.

 Get the list of 52 Gifts of Character / Virtues!


Should I keep a secret? Teaching children about secrets

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The telling and having secrets that we share with that special someone is a part of childhood that can be fun, exciting and a part of growing up. However, as adults, we know that a child could be frightened into keeping something to themselves and not telling an adult when it is most important. It is difficult for them to comprehend when to keep a secret and when they should tell.

The simple rule to start your child with is if you are not sure then you should ask your parents what they think. Asking your parents about a secret is always going to be the go-to answer, but beyond that we want them to begin honing their conscious too so their intuition guides them when fear might be overtaking them.

The fun part of keeping a secret is when you might be planning a surprise party for a family member, or you have another special event coming up that we are waiting to tell everyone about, we want to keep it a secret. The questionable choices come when a child or adult is told something by a close friend, and they have sworn them to secrecy. What are the rules or line of reasoning we can give our kids to help them choose between keeping the secret or telling an adult?

Rule 1. How does it make you feel? If you feel bad about what someone has told you or what they have demanded you keep secret makes you uncomfortable then you must ask a parent or another adult if that is something you should keep secret. If someone has touched you in places that a swimsuit is typically worn and then tells you that it is just our secret – you will want to tell a parent or a caring adult.

Rule 2. Will it hurt someone? Have you been told something that either may not be safe or will get someone hurt, either the teller of the secret or anyone else? If someone is liable to get hurt this is a secret that needs to be given the light of day. So if someone is going to run away, hurt another person, bring something to school that might hurt them or others – if anyone could get hurt, you need to tell a parent or another caring adult. The hurt may be physical, or it may be an emotional hurt as in gossiping, either way, if someone is going to be hurt we must tell an adult.

Rule 3. Will I be proud of the choice I make? If the person goes through with what they tell you – will you be happy and proud that you did not mention it to anyone? It is easy to see that a surprise birthday party secret kept would make you proud as it may not be easy to do. Whereas if your friend was going to run away if something went wrong you would not be proud.

As a parent, you can use these three questions to work out with your child a way of determining if they should keep a secret or not. In fact, these questions may help them to make other choices about talking to an adult about before coming to their conclusion. Our job as a parent is not to tell our children what to do, but to help them learn to make responsible choices. Guide them, so they come to their conclusions.
I must say that these three questions or rules of decision making are suitable for adults too. All of us at times need to speak out loud so we can hear for ourselves what is right for us to do. It is great when you have a trusted and loyal companion that we can talk to as we come to decisions about our life. Loyal friends are a gift that we appreciate by being loyal back to them.


The practice of loyalty is shown in multiple ways

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The virtue of loyalty is appreciated by all and is shown in so many different ways. We can show devotion to a friend by keeping our promises and commitments. If we promise to spend time with them, we maintain that commitment. Reliability does not always need a spoken promise. If we are friends, there is an unspoken expectation that we will spend time on a regular basis with each other, sharing stories, experiences, and thoughts. We would treat each other the same way no matter who may be present in the group of friends. We would not be one way when alone and another when we are with other people.

Loyalty to a team has specific requirements that may be spoken or may be expected even in a volunteer capacity. We would support the team by showing up for games, practices, meetings and other organized events if at all possible. Raising money and different supportive ways to help keep the mission of the team going strong is loyalty. The same would be true whether it is a sports team, community civics group, or a group supporting a cause that we would like to help.

Loyalty would also be a factor for an owner of a pet. We show dedication to our responsibility and promise we have made to care for this animal in a manner that would keep them healthy, safe and happy. Just because the pet doesn’t complain or stop giving us their love and attention is not an excuse to forget our responsibility to care for them.

On a much larger scale, each of us has the opportunity to show loyalty to the Universe, the environment and humans across the world by the way we care for the earth. When we are sensitive to not littering, the quality of the air and water and the ways we can contribute to the environment, we are showing loyalty to a much higher cause.

Each day the choices we make show our commitment to the virtue of loyalty by the way we maintain integrity in our relationships and causes. Doing what we say and standing up for what is right and best for all is the practice of loyalty.