In the world that we live in today – all adults are facing the questions
Why do people discriminate against others?
How do I stand up against injustice?
How do I help or stand up for myself when I am being disrespected?
If I see someone else being humiliated, what should I do?
These are questions that adults are struggling with in their communities and trying to figure out how to deal with on an international scale.
If though we look at our children – they are going through the same questions – just on their scale. In their groups they may be trying to figure out:
Why some kids are forming cliques that others they do not know are not allowed to be a part of?
Just because I am from a different country or have a different color skin – why do others make fun of me?
Why do some people tell me I can’t be friends with someone else?
How do I handle it when your best friend is really mean to others?
Will I always be the outsider and seen as a loser?
Sometimes we think that our young children do not see the injustices and the unfairness that is taking place in parts of their community or the world. In fact, many of those same unfair behaviors and meanness is showing up in very young children. Our children are facing an increasingly difficult environment – that assumes they are ready to understand and deal with all of the miscues of their own making along with the ones their friends make.
If you think your child is telling you everything that is going on in her life, that is not a good assumption. They are dealing with very complicated social problems that are very confusing to them. It is happening at younger and younger ages too.
Why is this the case? Could it be that we the parents are pushing them to ‘grow up’ faster, by allowing them to do more adult activities, dress in more adult ways, permitting them to watch and imitate older media stars – who may or may not be such great examples? Are we adults being influenced by the sophisticated marketing aimed at creating mini adults out of children with the latest in clothing, hair and attitude?
The prevention of bullying in both boys and girls starts with giving our children:
Purpose (family and personal mission)
Code of values
Along with these 4 key skills and knowledge, they must also be given strategies to deal with the questions and battles that they face everyday, the same way us adults have to struggle with the questions that face us. Balanced Life Skills is working to help families and individual children protect themselves and build a culture of peace and kindness in their family, community and the world.
This can be a difficult subject to talk to your kids about without scaring them into thinking that every stranger is out to get them. On the other side, studies have shown that many, in fact the majority of children, even though their parents have talked about this will put themselves into a dangerous situation when faced with this situation.
Here is what you want your children to know:
It is OK to say NO to an adult
Adults should go to other adults for help, not children.
Never go towards or near a car when it is someone you do not know
Always turn and run back into your house and tell an adult right away
The child may fear that they have done something wrong. They may have been further out in the yard than you generally allow them to be. Reassure them during their training that they are not in trouble if they tell you their story.
To give your children the best chance to know what to do and the courage to do it remember this quote:
“Tell me and I forget, Teach me and I may remember, Involve me and I learn.”
The most important part of this kind of training is role playing it is involving them in the training. Have the child pretend with you different scenarios, role play different questions with them.
“would you like to see my puppy?”
“can you help me find my puppy?”
“do you want a piece of candy?”
“can you help me carry these packages to the door?”
Depending on the age, limit the amount of time on each session you are teaching your children. It is better to schedule a self defense day with the family on a regular basis. Some days it may cover this subject or many others like the ones we talk about at Balanced Life Skills. Consistent short trainings are far more effective than a one hour class that you take one time.
As we have come to the end of the month and our discussions on Teamwork it was gratifying to see the use of teamwork in the families here at our school. Our students really got a special opportunity to display teamwork this week with our brush with Irene, the hurricane.
Some of the parents in the school started using the term Team “Last Name” as they told the stories of their family cleaning up after the storm or dealing in their own way with the inconveniences or even emergencies that they faced in the wake of the storm.
When the students returned to class we gave all the students the opportunity to tell their hurricane story, and reminded them that when they helped with work that needed to be done in or around the house they were practicing teamwork. We also reminded them that every team member has a special skill and or responsibility to fulfill on the team, and how thankful they could be that their parents had kept them safe during this emergency. They could rely on the team, just as the team relied on them.
While having an earthquake and hurricane in the same week was a bit disconcerting, we did get to practice teamwork – and even some of our word of the month in September; Self Reliance.
Each one of us bring something special to the team that we are on. Even on our most important team, the family, not all of us are going to be good at all things. On every team there will those who play the role of encourager, compromiser, leader, clarifier, idea person, evaluator and recorder.
On small teams like your family, some may take on several roles as the team works towards a goal. But the point is that one person should not need to take on all of the roles, because everyone can contribute something. As a brief review let’s look at the different roles that can be played out on a team.
Encourager is the person who cheers the group on and finds ways to energize the group when motivation gets low. Compromiser works on keeping the group harmonized. They make sure that many in the group are heard and understood. Leaders who must be careful not to dominate the group, while at the same time keeping them focused and on track to reach the goals of the group. Clarifier is the person who can summarize where the group is at this time and looks to make sure the group reaches a consensus. Idea person sees the big picture and is full of creative ways of getting there, while they may not be too good on the details. Evaluator is the person who likes to think things over and does not reach a quick decision. They will suggest and encourage looking at goals and solutions from different viewpoints. Recorder is the person who loves to take the notes at a meeting and helps keep things moving, on time and schedule.
How can you contribute with your best? Can you take on greater responsibility on a team? In the family we can train our children to take on different roles as they work on seeing what they are the best at and how to use all of these skills. It may start with simple day to day plans and later as they get older, having them help with vacation plans and other family goals.
Being on a team is important to our children feeling like they belong. Belonging to a group is key to building their confidence which in turn will affect their ability to lead. They will be less likely to succumb to bullying behavior and to stand up for others who are being picked on. Teaching teamwork at home builds happy family units, stronger students and future adults.
“A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others.” –Norman Shidle
I thought this was an interesting quote, especially when dealing with the family unit. If we want our family to work as a team, there are steps to take first to ensure that everyone can be sure of themselves and the role that they play in the task at hand.
First, all members of the family need to have a clear vision of the end result and to see how it will benefit them and the rest of the ‘team’. Then they must realize that the part they have been asked to perform or they have accepted to do is an integral part of the whole picture. Helping them to believe that they are important and responsible for a key part of the big picture.
Being sure that each team member is capable of or been trained for their task will help to keep them focused and not get discouraged prior to the completion of the task. Especially with children, we may believe that they know something that they have not mastered yet, and they may get discouraged.
Make sure the whole team knows what the end results will look like and keep them on track by developing a spirit of cooperation. It may be that you will work together on a portion of the project – and be willing to praise the younger member for the contribution they are making. If there are any complaints, be sure to address them quickly and work to keep the mood light and encouraging the entire time. In the end reward your ‘team’ with praise for a job well done and with a special treat of something that they consider ‘great’.
These steps will help us for work that needs to be done in the garden or in the house. They will help the entire family focus on what is important to your family in education, spirituality, vacations or work in the community.
Henry Ford said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
In our society even our youngest of children end up on teams involving sports or other activity. Too often the question we ask is, “How did you do?” or we say, “You did really well today!” If we want to teach our children about teamwork though we may want to change the words we use, and start very early teaching them about teams and how we can accomplish much bigger goals together than we can as just one person.
All of us including children have been on teams. Our most important team is our family. When we teach our children that the family is the most important team we are on, we will be helping them to see things from others point of view, empathy. When they go to school they will start to see relationships as not just about themselves, but also get to feel what others might be feeling. When we take them into the community and there are cleanup projects or feeding the less fortunate, they will begin to understand how together we can make a difference far beyond what we can do as individuals.
What would happen if at home we all made a mess? Do we expect that one person would be responsible for picking up and cleaning the mess? If we as a family work together to get things cleaned up, we are teaching our children that teamwork is an important characteristic to our family. Yes sometimes it takes more time than doing it ourselves, but the lesson of teamwork, empathy, fairness and learning how to share responsibility is a valuable lesson for later in life.