Avoiding retaliation with courage

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There will be situations that come up in our life that require courage and we may not be in a good frame of mind to make that decision. What would happen if someone said something to us that was rude or mean? For many, our first reaction is to retaliate – to say something back. We might try to out-do their meanness or it may be sarcastic. Our choice may lead to consequences that we did not expect or desire.

mark-twain-courageIn order to make the best choice in our response we need to first find our calm self. Everyone has a different way of calming down. Some are able to take a few deep breaths, others need to step away to collect themselves, and others may want to talk to someone (like a trusted adult). If we can calm down though, then our trained mind will allow us to find and use our courage to make the somewhat difficult decision not to fight back. We will find a way of answering the person in an assertive manner that demonstrates our purposefulness to be peaceful.

Is this hard? YES! It takes a great deal of courage to not retaliate. To be the bigger person we can use all of our tools for dealing with stressful situations and that will help us be courageous in the face of challenges.

Develop Courage in Children to Attempt New Activities

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It takes courage to try something that is new for us.  Even if we have seen others perform the task previously, the “Evidence that Appears as Reality” to us is so real that we may find ourselves convinced that we do not want to attempt or learn.

As a young person, what seems so simple to adults, like learning to ride a bike, swim, roller coaster, go to a circus (clowns) can present tough tasks for the younger ones.   Even walking into a new classroom or tasting a new food for the first time may be incomprehensible for some.

The only way we will know how we really feel about an activity, food, or situation is if we try it.  Everything we do at this moment was new for us at one time.  Using our courage, facing our fears, looking at challenges with the attitude of being brave, will help us grow our our “comfort zone”.

As a parent our encouragement for this kind of bravery is part of the key to growing courage in our children.  Not over protecting or reacting in catastrophic manner will help to keep a child calm also.   In all of this, one of the biggest fears that some children and adults have about new activities is that someone will laugh at them.  When working with our child – be very careful about sarcasm, jokes etc… when they are attempting new activities.

Can you ask your child to work on doing one new TOUGH task this week?  Share with them your experience with that task or one that is similar.  Then let them see how brave they are.  When the task is complete, honor them by saying to them, “I celebrate your courage when you practiced on the monkey bars today.  How was it for you?”

Gifts of Character: Courage – The Definition

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Each month we will discuss one gift of character with all of our students. This month the word is Courage. This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students: Courage means: I am brave!

Older students: Courage is the willingness to face fears and challenges with determination.

Children only need to learn to grow and use their 52 Gifts of Character they have inside of them!

If you would like to see Joe Van Deuren and Balanced Life Skills at work, TRY CLASSES FOR FREE for 2 weeks.

What do you have the courage to do when you see bullying?

This week in our self defense class we are working on the question,

“What would you do if… You see someone being bullied?

There are many ways that you could react – but the real question is what do you have the courage to do?

  • Do you have the courage to avoid joining in with the name calling or laughing at the target of the aggressive behavior?  Or is it easier and feel safer to be a part of the crowd?
  • Do you have the courage to report to an adult?  Or are you afraid of being called a snitch?
  • Do you have the courage to tell the bully to STOP!  Or are you afraid of being turned on and becoming the target?
  • Do you have the courage to request your friends to stand up to the aggressor?  Or are you afraid of being made fun of not going along with the group?
  • Do you have the courage to support and befriend the target or victim of the bullying? Or are you afraid of losing other friends?friendship

All of these actions require different levels of courage.  All of the parent’s or teacher’s we must remember that, all of these actions are doable if there is a culture in the classroom and school or in the family and community that requires kindness be shown to each other.

Balanced Life Skills  is teaching our students to say:

“STOP! In our school we do not treat each other like that!”

We could also say, “In our family” or “in our community”, or “on our team we do not……”

The practice of kindness, the recognition of the value of each other is what respect is built on.  Respect is the ability to see and celebrate the VALUE in ourselves and others and behave accordingly.  We should not be demanding “behaviors” if we are not also helping all in our community and families to see and celebrate the value of all people.

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”.