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.
It makes sense that if our child is experiencing aggressive behavior at school that they would also experience more anxiety than others might be experiencing. If our child starts behaving anxiously, we will want to determine if there is bullying taking place somewhere in there life. Bullying is not the only reason for anxiety, but certainly it can affect our children. In fact some say that that if a child is dealing with anxiety they are at greater risk of becoming a target of bullying.
There have been studies that have shown that those who have been bullied, both overtly and relationally, have shown higher levels of anxiety. This would be those who are threatened with or experienced physical harm or those that have experienced threats regarding peer relationships. In both male and female students – both have heightened anxiety levels.
Of all of the different ways that students victimize or target others the one behavior – name calling – that has the strongest affect on young men (teens) is being called “gay”. The use of this term – continually, with intent to harm, and with a difference in power – has the most dramatic affect on young men in creating anxiety for them in life.
On the other side of this, those that receive moderate support from their peers also seem to fair better when it comes to anxiety and dealing with aggression. My take on this is the need we have as a society – a culture – is to make it not acceptable to call names, not acceptable to act aggressively towards others, to be KIND. What if when someone in a school called a classmate a name, others stood up for them saying, “in our school – we do not treat others like that”.
Balanced Life Skills is working at creating a culture of peace for our students, families, schools and community. Join us if you believe in the practice of respect for each other.
No matter the age of our children, we must as parents always be preparing them and ourselves for the future. On Friday morning I had the privilege of attending a program put on by Southern High School, on substance abuse. Chris Herren, a one time NBA star, spoke about the “first day” and the abuse of alcohol and drugs and where it leads. A very strong program that I wish that not just the kids had heard – even the parents.
The night prior to that I gave a presentation to the Mayo Kiwanis Club on understanding suicide prevention. It was also a powerful presentation that spoke on a subject that is heavy and sometimes hard to talk about. Again though, one that every parent must understand – no matter the age of their children. On May 3 at 10 AM Balanced Life Skills will host a “Gatekeeper” training. In just 90 minutes you will learn what each of us needs to know to protect our children and all of our loved ones from self harm. I encourage every parent, grandparent, and high school student to attend.
This Wednesday night at 5:30 at Balanced Life Skills I will personally present on the subject of Creating a Mission Statement for our Families. This 30 minute presentation will cover why this is critical to resilience in our children and how to go about doing it with the involvement of all in the family.
Why is Balanced Life Skills so involved in presentations like this for families? It truly is our mission to help parents to have more peace in their lives. Please join us as we create a culture of peace in ourselves, families, schools and community.
My personal mission is to “Teach Peace”. Balanced Life Skills is a martial arts school and education center with the goal of creating a culture of peace through the martial arts. When I express that goal to some – it comes with a look of disbelief, and a lot of reasons why we “can’t do that”. In fact that is an automatic response. Very few individuals or organizations believe that there is the possibility of peace in our world today.
However I would ask everyone in lieu of giving all the reasons that we “can’t” – to answer the question, “How can we?” History is filled with situations that many have responded automatically with a long list of reasons of “why we can’t!” But it wasn’t that long ago when the personal computer, internet, video Skype calls or even cell phones were considered not possible.
It seems though that humans put a great deal of effort into creating things, and much less effort into such an “impossible task” like creating a culture of peace. While we have been able to help individuals, doing so on a large scale does seem daunting. I however refuse to believe that it “can’t be done”. The question really should be ‘how can we’ and ‘when will we’?
We cannot expect to see peace in the world when most of mankind is not at peace with themselves. So peace with oneself is the first step for every person. To accomplish that, our personal first step is:
Intention for ourselves and if we have a family, for our family also – this is a great place to start. We will continue to examine creating a culture of peace in future posts here at Balanced Life Skills.
Peace is the “cultivation of understanding, insight and compassion, combined with action. Peace is the practice of mindfulness, the practice of being aware of our thoughts, our actions, and the consequences of our actions.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Creating peace in our home is not just a matter of there not being fights amongst the siblings, or the parents or the butting of heads between parents and children. It is not the stopping of conflict or arguing. Peace is cultivated with the awareness of our thoughts, speech and actions and the affect it has or may have on others.
Imagine living with those that thought about the effect of their words and actions on everyone else in the family. Imagine when everyone in the family respects the space of others, and follows the golden rule of doing to others as you would have them do to you. Imagine the another side of that rule – doing to others as they would have you do to them. Imagine the good feelings from being aware of the things that trigger bad feelings or of seeing the need for pitching in to help all in the family.
This is the awareness that is required to create a culture of peace. This is the Balanced Life Skills Way.
There was a little girl in just the 3rd grade who was very active and loved to do things outside. She loved to play ball and ride her bike, climb trees and just have a lot of fun. Her classmates have started to make fun of her and especially of her short hair. This is Samantha and really she is very cute and loving. However, the taunts of her friends really is starting to bother her and she does not like to hear them.
This is a classroom that needs to learn that put-downs are not cool. They have not built a peaceful and kind culture yet. In a situation like this the teacher wants to work with the whole class. Building a culture of peace could begin with recognizing that we are the same and different at the same time taunts of her friends really is starting to bother her and she does not like to hear them.
You could start with a game of “I’m Looking For”. The simple version is to make a circle and have one person ask a question, “I’m looking for everyone with brown eyes.” Then everyone with brown eyes comes to the middle of the circle. They can go back out and a new ‘looking for’ question is asked. After everyone has a chance to ask questions about favorite colors, pets, color of hair and eyes, birthday months you can ask what were some of the things you had in common and discuss similarities and differences. To take it further, discuss all the ways everyone around the world are the same including our emotional needs.
Summarize with understanding that sometimes people put others down or make fun of them because they are different in some way. We will focus on the things that are the same and if we do we will be building a culture of kindness and peace in the classroom or at home.