5 Life skills; kindness

Dictionary definition

The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate’ oxforddictionaries.com

Adult perspective

Maybe its just me, but kindness seems to be in short supply these days. It could the news outlets I watch but the media seems to be full of hateful intolerance. This is probably why I watch less news now!

As an adult, I like to show random acts of kindness whenever possible, although this has become a bit of a balancing act. In my recent experience, kindness can easily be mistaken for weakness and if you don’t establish proper boundaries, plenty will seek to take advantage of that.

I still prefer to offer a hand if I can.

man s hand in shallow focus and grayscale photography
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Parent perspective

I want my cubs to know how to:

  • Be kind to you first!
  • Set limits
  • Listen
  • Give time
  • If you can help; do help.

First and foremost, children have to learn how to be kind to themselves! I catch my cubs in negative self talk quite often and I’m quick to challenge it. As earlier readers may remember, I’m big on autosuggestion. I try to reframe their points of reference, whenever I hear a ‘I’m not very good at that’, I ask them to add the word ‘yet’. I then remind them that no one is born good at something and that while natural talent can play a part, discipline, determination and self-belief are usually the strongest determining factors.

Negative self-talk will kill any ability you have to help others because a lack of self-belief will leave an opening for exploitation.

For reasons of self-preservation, kindness, at any given time should be a finite resource. We need to teach limits and for our children understand the need to draw a line in the sand. They’ll have to learn what their tolerance levels are which initially will have to come from experience. Recognising patterns and learning these lessons will help them make better decision in the future.

Active listening! hear [sic] we go again. My cubs have listening down to a fine art. Usually things I don’t want them to hear. Things that they will only then repeat again in company. People will always tell you who they are; you just have to listen.

Balancing the needs of yourself versus that of others is a valuable skill. You must put your needs first, but help where you can. Time is the most precious gift you can give but take care that it is not wasted.

adult affection baby casual
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Child’s perspective

Cubs will emulate the most influencial adults in their lives. If we engage in negative self-talk, they will too, because we’ve normailsed it. I try to openly congratuate myself for things, or reflect on an event where my acting differently may have produced a different outcome. I externalise my inner thought processes for them to hear.

I’m a bit of a fan of Freud, so watching the cubs develop through the id, ego and superego was fascinating. Without dipping too deeply into the structure of human psyche, toddlers are controlled by the id and the immediacy of their desires, as this is necessary for survival. Young schoolers learn to control those desires through the development of the ego and superego. The id and the ego will set limits! if a situation isn’t beneficial then interest is quite quickly lost. In the development of the superego, selflessness is a new attribute to wrestle with. I don’t think that swinging pendulum stops until well after the teenage years.

As this sense won’t develop for a while for my two, I’m happy for them to roleplay sharing and sympathy until they find a natural level they’re happy with. Youngest’s helpful side shows itself in  acts of independence such as tidying his room. He’s pretty bad at it but there are two important factors at play; 1) he gets a sense of accomplishment and 2) he thinks he’s doing it for me. It works. Eldest will often interupt her own play to help me with a chore, especially if she thinks I’ve been on my feet for too long. I called her chief helper when she was younger.

 

Conclusion

Conscious of cramming too much learning into tiny minds, I try not to rob the cubs of their childhood and their right to get things wrong.

Positive reinforecment of desired behaviour is most effective; I try to live these attributes and lead by example. They experience me listening and giving time. They also experience me setting limits; not just with them, but with others. I help others when I can but more importantly, if I don’t help someone, I’ll explain why.

True kindness is an act of strength! but the greatest acts of kindness should be spent on oneself.

BSD

beach woman sunrise silhouette
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5 Life skills; fortitude

Dictionary definition

‘Courage in pain or adversity’ oxfordditionaries.com

Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on Pexels.com

Adult perspective

One of the most difficult elements of writing this 5 part series was putting these life skills in some order of importance. I tried, but eventually gave up. The irony of me admitting this on a blog entry entitled fortitude is not lost on me, but the reality is that any combination of these attributes are what is needed to succeed in life.

Life is tough. It’s also the most amazing gift but that perspective won’t chime with this entry! Determination will get you over a great deal of life’s obstacles and to the prize on the other side.

Parent perspective

Downloaded from Pintrest

As a parent, I want the cubs to realise that failure is a part of success. The approach here slightly mirrors that of my approach in the courage
blog entry, but that is intentional. Concentric lessons are reinforced positively, and this is where learning happens.

I want my cubs to:

  • Embrace the fall and learn the lesson
  • Take risks
  • Avoid the herd
  • Be the lone voice
  • Set goals.

When my eldest was in transition between crawling and walking, I observed her with fascination. I watched her figure out her terrain, mapping textures and adjusting her cadence. Most memorably, I watched her master a chair, in order to sit at the dining table. She scrambled, grunted, yelped a couple of times, looked to me once or twice, but continued with focus, once she realised that I wasn’t going to do it for her. Eventually, she manoeuvered the chair correctly, made herself enough space and sat at the table. The place that she had earned.

In giving the cubs the courage to speak up, I hope to empower them to be the lone voice. Not everything they will be told will be correct and not every action they observe will be moral.

Parentally, I encourage them to explain to me why they’re upset when they burst into tears, or what led them to lash out in the on-going sibling battle for primacy. In doing this, I hope to enable them to vocalise when they feel wronged as adults, although it’s also important that they can differentiate between that and keeping their own counsel.

The importance of this is that they shouldn’t feel the need to run with the herd, ridiculous pack animals that we are.

Finally, goal setting. At their age, most goals are predetermined. I do add some in, and encourage them to set their own. Goals are challenges that lead to growth. Growth leads to reward.

Child’s perspective

In my humble opinion, the best way for cubs to learn most of these is to play! Play often; in different environments, with different people and different games.

Like most sentient beings with nurtured offspring, life’s lessons can be learnt through the dress rehearsal that is play. That is, if we as parents let them get on with it!

I will discuss events with them when play goes wrong, in order to help process things as play invariably goes wrong, but that’s the plan.

Conclusion

One thing that I’ve noticed writing this 3rd installment, is just how much overlap there is in these life skills. I guess it’s because they’re based on my own value system

I guess the challenge for me would be to teach the cubs to master skills that I don’t posses or that are lacking in my personality.

BSD

5 Life skills; courage

Dictionary

The ability to do something that frightens one; bravery’ Oxforddictionaries.com

 

Adult perspective


One of my all-time, favourite songs has a chorus line as follows; ” If I sense danger; I’ll dust my heart down and carry on ” Sense of Danger by Presence.

I do not own the rights to this song.

This song has gotten me through so much in the past…

The greatest attribute, in my opinion is courage. Without it, there would be no challenge; no breakthrough and no progress. A lack of courage has led to some of humanity’s darkest periods and an abundance of courage has returned light where there was none.

Parent perspective

As a dad, I want the cubs to have the courage to:

  • Experiment
  • Tell the truth/speak up
  • Admit when you’re wrong
  • Admit when you’re scared.

I sometimes despair at helicopter parents. Watching them at the play park, following their children around various apparatus, waiting to catch them after the inevitable fall. I also sympathise, as I’ve been there.

I stopped when I recognised that in doing so, we cause a great deal of harm. Courage is learned in climbing trees, rope swings into summer rivers and monkey bars with impossible spans. As kids ourselves, we fell, almost drowned and learned about the importance of momentum and strength. We recognise now, that the reward lies in overcoming those fears.

Lies come from a lack of courage to tell the truth. I watch people lie all the time and it has to be one of the things that affects me the greatest, especially when it’s an obvious lie. More often than not, it takes real courage to tell the truth.

As we mature, what scares us changes. It’s easy to dismiss the fears of a child because we have forgotten our own childhood fears but, the gap in the monkey bars represents a lot. As an adult admitting fear can be liberating.

Child’s perspective

Limits are for pushing; it’s in our nature. That tree absolutely needs to be climbed and those bars aren’t that far apart. Others have climbed, swum and swung before us; someone was the first…

In a world where young voices are often lost, children should be encouraged to speak up. They need to know that how they feel is important, and that their views should be considered. Shouting them down or scorn will only take their future voice away.

For a child, truth and lies are legitimised at an early age. The parental response to either will decide which they prefer. If a child can ‘get away with’ an untruth, or gain advantage from it, they may be inclined to repeat the behaviour.

I positively reinforce the truth by reducing the consequences when the cubs are straight with me. I’m less tolerant of lies. There are no ‘little lies’ or ‘white lies’, it’s a binary choice.

I try to address their fears rather than ridicule them. It is a delicate act to which I try to apply science and reasoning. I encourage them to tell me what they’re scared of and emote their feelings. Once they do this, I can add a counter argument; a script, that once becomes reinforced, they’ll be able to complete themselves.

Conclusion

Courage takes so many forms in our adult life but as with most values, what is gathered and repeated in the formative years will most likely be who we become.

Positive and negative reinforcement will constantly shape their development; as parents, what we do will often have more of an effect over what we say, as you cannot hide who you are.

BSD


5 Life skills; prologue.

I’d like to give you a short preview of my 5 week series on the life skills I’m trying to impart into my cubs.

I’ve thought long and hard about this one and reflected on their upbringing so far. Eldest cub, for the most part was raised in a semi-stable home and relationship, although the signs that her mother and I weren’t going to make it were already there.

Her formative years were moulded by the dual influences of both parents, even though I worked long hours and my partner stayed at home. Bonds were formed and taught values were reinforced in behaviours I showed daily.

The co-parenting paradigm shifts things onto a more challenging footing, and my son is now away from the dual influences of both parents. It’s difficult to know what effect this is having on his development as you have to allow for individuality in behavioural differences. I doubt that it’s as straight forwards as nature or nurture.

This whole piece wasn’t straight-forwards.

Having the cub’s best intentions in mind, I want to give them the best start in life that I possibly could, without overlooking their childhood by extolling vicarious values. I tried to be objective, with a topic that is hugely subjective, and I struggled to get the list down to 5 life skills. It changed numerous times.

My list may differ from that of others and I’d be keen to see how mine measures up, but when I reflect on the times that I might have stumbled in life, these are the skills that got me to my feet again.

  • Courage
  • Self-worth
  • Determination/fortitude
  • Kindness
  • Humility.

Within each of these 5, I will attempt to explain why I think that the skill is vital, from the perspective of both an adult and a child. I will also attempt to explain how I teach this skill and then reinforce it in my own behaviour.

I hope you enjoy my thoughts and as always, I’d love to interact with you and have a discussion.

Happy New Year!

BSD

Peace; Health; Happiness.


As 2018 draws to a close, I’m moving into reflection mode.

So much has happened since the start of the year; some things I’ve enjoyed sharing, others I’ve kept a little closer to my chest. I like to get things near to completion before I publisice them to the world these days. It’s a response to my prior habit of announcing my intentions too early..

I feel I’ve grown; a lot. I’ve watched my cubs grow too, as I’ve continued to nurture their development the best way that I can.

I’ve matured into the co-parenting role too. On reflection, this wasn’t the easiest of years in that respect. The challenges that I have faced crescendoed to such a frustrating level that I genuinely feared for my health at the start of this month. That’s behind me as thankfully, self-care kicked in.

Bonds of words have been broken, so I’ve drawn a line in the sand. The final straw being Christmas Day. The cubs were blessed with gifts. Not so much with attention. That left me frustrated but determined, that it will not happen again.

For me, the power of relection is to take the opportunity to learn. It isn’t about regret, as life is too beautiful for that. I promise you, if you search hard enough, there is a positive message in every single negative event in your history. It’s your job to recognise and capitalise on it.

I am so blessed that simply focussing on what is in my life is enough to make me smile out loud.

The cubs have their issues, but none are insurmountable. Plans are in place to deal with those.

2019

  • Carry on with the plans, unabbaited. They’re progressing nicely, but require concentration and patience.
  • Build better relationships based on my values, mutual benefit and reciprocity.
  • Focus on my health. Healthy eating, exercixe, good food, fresh air and relaxation.
  • Kill procrastination; my greatest foe.

For the cubs

Reflecting, has got me reflecting. What do I want to teach my children? what do I want them to learn?

I narrowed it down to 5 life skills. I’m going to discuss one every week from the 5th January. I hope you enjoy them.

Here’s to 2019 folks; stay true to your dreams!

Photo by Dana Tentis on Pexels.com

BSD

Happy Christmas

On this special day I want to thank all of you that read my ramblings, and wish you, your nearest and your dearest, a very Merry Christmas!

For me and the cubs, I’m grateful that our story continues. I buried the hatchet and invited the ex over to stay, giving her the opportunity to wake up with them and open presents.

She agreed.

Peace is restored. Or it will be when she leaves… 😉

Merry Christmas all xx

BSD