There are six skills that I believe are necessary for every child to learn in a progressive manner, depending on their age that will both protect them from bullying and from being a bully. In that all of us have the capability to be both – these 6 skills will be a protection to ourselves if we are targeted or if we have become aggressive. Adult or child, it is likely that having a coach to work on these skills will be helpful.
What are the six skills?
Identifying social cues
How to be a friend
Online safety skills
These six skills – and they are skills because they can be taught and we are not be able to turn it on / off at will – take time to develop and are best learned by seeing them modeled by our coach. Parents – You are the Coach.
None of these skills are going to be learned by a single sit down conversation where we tell our children what is expected from them or what they have to do. All of the skills take time, and I suggest our 3 minutes a day concept. Here is an example, using the very first skill listed, Empathy.
Empathy cannot be taught in passing. Parent’s are concerned about a child when they have hurt the feelings of another person. It is easy to say, “think about their feelings”, but for a child they are most likely thinking about their own feelings, so these words mean very little to them.
Empathy comes from the inside of a person – not from the words of others from the outside. So we must begin by giving our child the words they need to describe their own feelings. Those ‘emotion’ words must be taught and then used by parents and child in describing how they are feeling. Doing this when our children are young and continuing will give them the start to a vocabulary to describe their feeling. Then those feeling words can be applied to what we see is happening to others. As they get older we can do more reflection with them.
In our class, “The Truth About Bullying”we will discuss each of the six skills and how to teach them to our children in more detail. You will be really surprised at our definition and practice of Self Defense. Come to our class on Saturday,September 27 at 10 AM or schedule Joe Van Deuren to present this information to your own parent group.
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.
In helping our child with any kind of anxiety that they may be feeling, first the child wants to know that we understand what they are feeling. The most important step as a parent is to listen to our child and ask questions about their feelings. Using our active listening skills by repeating back to them what we heard them say, determining their feelings and putting words to those feelings will be very helpful for the child to feeling understood.
The next step is to assure the child that they are not alone, others have similar feelings and you may even tell your child about a time in your childhood. Be careful though not to draw too many comparisons. Your experience and their experience are different and right now it is not about you. Assure your child that the feeling is very bad and it is temporary – even if it does not feel that way now. The telling of your experience may end with an upbeat ending and how you were able to overcome your fear or anxiety.
Give them the support, encouragement and your own example. If we present ourselves as being very perfect to them, it may make them feel like they cannot live up to the bar you have set. This may be a cause of anxiety for them. As you model facing fears and coach your child, allow them to work at their pace. Pushing too hard can increase anxiety of trying to please while trying to suppress the fears.
Now the hard one. Avoid giving too much reassurance. The more reassurance you give by saying things like, “It is going to be OK.” When we are constantly reassuring, we are not giving them the opportunity to learn or gain the strength to cope with their own issues. Of course this is about balance, but reassuring them that they can use their coping skills to relieve the pressure they are feeling is a better way of helping them. will give them even more courage to be bold in overcoming anxiety.
Barbara Bush is quoted as saying, “Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give.”
No matter how small we believe our contribution is to a person or to a cause, it may be the one small thing needed to make a big difference. We never know who we are going to touch with our gift of a personal treasure, our time or talent, or even a word of thanks. We may know the person or maybe not. It may be in passing that we demonstrate generosity that makes a difference in an individuals day.
Teaching our children from a very young age, by our example, the joy and value of giving will lead them on a path of true happiness. One of the 6 most basic human needs is connection / love, and those are only attainable by not looking at what we are getting – but rather what we are giving.
We all know that too much screen time is not a good substitute for play and interaction with our children. The majority of us though have been guilty from time to time of using screens – tv, ipad, computer – as a babysitter. So what is the right thing to do? How much screen time should our youngest children, under 2, be exposed to? You may be surprised by the recommendations of the the American Academy of Pediatrics makes. One of my favorite resources for media advice is Common Sense Media. Here is a great article on How Much Screen Time Should Young Children Have?