Self control: using manners

word of month character

For us adults it may seem to be a silly subject to bring up about using manners requiring the use of self control.  I have found though that listening very deeply is very hard to do. What I mean by that is that as our child, spouse, workmate or someone trying to help us in the store is trying to tell us something, that many times we are thinking about the point we want to make or what we want to say – while they are talking.  This may lead right into interrupting them or finishing their sentence – so we can get our thoughts in to the conversation.  Now while we correct our children for interrupting us while we are on the phone or speaking to another adult, they are watching us do the same to others.  Oh how funny it is that the things that bother us about our children the most are the very habits and attitudes that we see in ourselves.

So here are a few things to remember when we may need to interrupt a conversation.  Lets use an example of mom talking to a teacher with her child beside her.  Lets say the child wants to ask a question of mom.  (so many times the questions they want to ask are not about the conversation but rather about what they want to do now or later in the day)  Of course it would not be self control to whine or just to blurt something out while tugging on the sleeve of mom.  In fact as the child gets older they would want to learn what was appropriate to question at this time and what should wait. 

The self controlled way of dealing with this is to (1) wait for a break in the conversation; (2) say “excuse me” and (3) ask nicely (one time, not whining or demanding)  Now their may be times that waiting is notnecessary , and that would be in the case of an emergency.  As our children get a little older we can help them to appreciate what asking nicely includes.  Things like tone of voice, facial expressions and the words we say.

In my mind though it all begins with respect for the other persons thoughts and rights to express them.  It begins with our being interested in how the other person feels about a subject and our willingness to ‘listen deeply’ to be sure we understand how they feel, with an emphasis on others.

Teamwork equals success

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teamworkAll of us have been on good and bad teams. When we are on a good team we can really feel the spirit of cooperation, there are individuals with good attitudes and the character of the individuals create a winning attitude. Even if it is not a sports team, the attitude is about getting the job done while making the best of the situation – maybe even having fun. Not all great teams win all of the time. But one thing that all great teams and teammates do is play fair and divide the tasks fairly, so that all the responsibility does not fall on any one person. When things are going well for the team, it is not surprising that they are successful in the task at hand. Sometimes though the team is just not working. One thing I have learned in teaching is that when things are not going as you would like to see, the first place to look is at your self. If you are on a team and it just is not working out – we may want to look first at ourselves and see if we are being a good teammate. Examine our attitude, the responsibilities we have taken from the leader and examine what we can do become a successful team. It may require that we have a team meeting and refocus on the goals of the team, making sure everyone is on board. What can we do to contribute to the success of the team? Using “I” messages is a good way of expressing our concerns without pointing fingers or making others feel rejected. “I need help in this matter or that” is a good way of being sure everyone on the team knows how they can be more effective teammates. If you have been on a good team or bad tell us about it here. What did you do to have the best experience possible?

Tolerance: Confronting our own prejudices

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In every characteristic we discuss we always end up with the thought that we as parents and role models must model the behavior that we would like to see in our children.  But with tolerance we will begin with that concept.  Our very first step is to examine our own prejudices and stereotyping beliefs.  None of us have grown up without being affected by this.
Even if we are not aware of them, in some way our children see through all of that and can see these communicated attitudes. (usually quite unintentionally)   To begin with don’t try to determine your own prejudice, examine what you saw as a child in your parents.  What were some of your parents prejudices?  Now when we have that list, examine yourself – Do any of these remain with you today?
Take time to reflect on how you may be projecting them to your children.  Then take the steps of tempering them so that they do not become your children’s prejudice.

Teaching Compassion

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We have started our conversation with our students about compassion with a review of the word ’empathy’.  All of us need to be understanding and sensitive to people’s feeling and that really is empathy.  If we take that a step further with compassion when we don’t just recognize the feeling, but care deeply about their discomfort and take steps to reduce their suffering.
Our children are exposed to highly competitive environment and way too many acts of violence on TV and quite frankly in their own life.  They are very sensitive to the attitudes and actions of those around them and recognize violence in its simplest forms.  They like ourselves can become jaded to these acts and so that makes teaching compassion that much more important in todays world.
So this week coming up we will discuss how what we do and say can affect how others feel.  Take some time this month to point our when we see compassion in action and praise our children for showing compassion to others.