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How to Argue without Being Mean

What is he thinking? What’s wrong with her? How could they say those things? You want to talk back and let those friends know that you are right and they are wrong wrong wrong! How do you do that? You argue back—with Arguing Skill.  But you do it without being mean or spiteful.

  • NEVER ARGUE WHEN YOU ARE MAD OR SAD.

This is a hard one. When you feel like arguing about something, it is because the conflict makes you feel mad or sad.  But when you are mad or sad, you lose control. You just weep or stomp around. You won’t win an argument, and you might make people think you are silly. Also, when you are mad or sad, you are likely to call people names, which is a bad way to argue.

  • REALLY LISTEN AND HAVE RESPECT.

Part of being a ninja arguer is really hearing what the other person is saying. When you really understand what the other person thinks, you will be better at making that person understand you. if you really want someone to listen to you, you must listen to him or her.

  • BE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT AND WHY.

“Just ‘cause” is not a reason. You need to be able to say clearly and nicely what your goal is and give reasons why your opinion should win.

  • BE OPEN TO COMPROMISE.

COMPROMISE is when two people each give in a little to make a deal work. By compromising, both of you win.

Now, let’s see how these four points work in real life. Let’s start in the playground.

You’ve been playing basketball with your friends. After about an hour, Sandy grabs the ball and won’t give it back. She wants to go home and play video games. You want to keep playing, as do the other friends. You want to call her mean for taking the ball.

Instead, think. Put your hands on your hips and take a few steps, counting to ten. This gives you time to cool off (point 1).

Now, go back to Sandy and ask her why she wants to play video games rather than basketball (point 2).

Sandy says, “We’ve been playing all afternoon. It’s getting boring.” Being smart, you also listen with your eyes. You see that she’s sweaty and tired. Maybe she doesn’t want to sound weak. As her friend, you respect what she says. But there are still five of you that want to keep playing (point 3).“We’d like to keep playing,” you say. Then you reach point 4.

Compromise. So you say, “How about we use your ball and play a bit longer. I’ll drop it off at your house when it’s done.” Sandy could reply: “Mom told me not to lend the ball out.” What do you do? Here’s an idea: “How about we play for another fifteen minutes then we can all go play video games?”

Each argument is different, because the people arguing are different. The goal is to come to an agreement. The better you can argue, the better you can get along.

What is he thinking? What’s wrong with her? How could they say those things? You want to talk back and let those friends know that you are right and they are wrong wrong wrong! How do you do that? You argue back—with Arguing Skill.  But you do it without being mean or spiteful.

  • NEVER ARGUE WHEN YOU ARE MAD OR SAD.

This is a hard one. When you feel like arguing about something, it is because the conflict makes you feel mad or sad.  But when you are mad or sad, you lose control. You just weep or stomp around. You won’t win an argument, and you might make people think you are silly. Also, when you are mad or sad, you are likely to call people names, which is a bad way to argue.

  • REALLY LISTEN AND HAVE RESPECT.

Part of being a ninja arguer is really hearing what the other person is saying. When you really understand what the other person thinks, you will be better at making that person understand you. if you really want someone to listen to you, you must listen to him or her.

  • BE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT AND WHY.

“Just ‘cause” is not a reason. You need to be able to say clearly and nicely what your goal is and give reasons why your opinion should win.

  • BE OPEN TO COMPROMISE.

COMPROMISE is when two people each give in a little to make a deal work. By compromising, both of you win.

Now, let’s see how these four points work in real life. Let’s start in the playground.

You’ve been playing basketball with your friends. After about an hour, Sandy grabs the ball and won’t give it back. She wants to go home and play video games. You want to keep playing, as do the other friends. You want to call her mean for taking the ball.

Instead, think. Put your hands on your hips and take a few steps, counting to ten. This gives you time to cool off (point 1).

Now, go back to Sandy and ask her why she wants to play video games rather than basketball (point 2).

Sandy says, “We’ve been playing all afternoon. It’s getting boring.” Being smart, you also listen with your eyes. You see that she’s sweaty and tired. Maybe she doesn’t want to sound weak. As her friend, you respect what she says. But there are still five of you that want to keep playing (point 3).“We’d like to keep playing,” you say. Then you reach point 4.

Compromise. So you say, “How about we use your ball and play a bit longer. I’ll drop it off at your house when it’s done.” Sandy could reply: “Mom told me not to lend the ball out.” What do you do? Here’s an idea: “How about we play for another fifteen minutes then we can all go play video games?”

Each argument is different, because the people arguing are different. The goal is to come to an agreement. The better you can argue, the better you can get along.

Why Do Some Kids Love School?

School is pretty much a job that we give to kids.  Like the jobs we have as adults it is the place you must show up to every day, even when you don’t want to go.  The business of learning is work.  It involves mental focus and self-discipline.  That discipline is an important part of how school shapes kids.

The important knowledge and skills that classes such as math, science, history, languages, and English are critical to helping children become well-rounded, intelligent adults but the self-discipline it takes to show up every day, work with others and finish the assigned work might be the most important skill school can instill in us.

The work that kids must put into school and the social anxiety that can come from learning how to interact with other people every day should make it easy to understand why many kids struggle with school.  School can be an unpleasant experience for kids with learning disabilities, kids who have a conflict with teachers, kids who have social anxiety, kids who are bullied, and kids who struggle with the self-discipline you need to be a good student.  Some people simply don’t like school, and some even go as far as being scared to death of going to school (known as Didaskaleinophobia).

So, if school has the potential to be such an unpleasant experience, why do some kids love school so much?  We all went to school with some classmates who were full of enthusiasm and clearly enjoyed their classes.  What can we do to encourage any child to have a positive experience in school and have a huge smile on their face when they step foot into school?  It is possible to make school a place that even kids who were less than excited about going to school come to love.  We explore five ways to make sure kids love school.

1. Make learning interactive and creative.

Different kids have different learning styles.  Some kids can do well with traditional learning.  They can listen to a lecture, take notes, read textbooks and study, and earn good grades on quizzes and test.  That simply isn’t the case with many kids.  For them, learning needs to be an active, creative process.  They need to be presented with choices in how they will approach learning and they need to be up from their desks and engaged in learning activities.  Even students who do well with traditional teaching methods benefit from this approach.  An engaged student who is empowered to make choices is far more likely to love school.

2. Adults should be role models.

Kids look to adults to model how to behave.  Attitude is contagious!  Every day children are essentially at the mercy of adults.  They must listen to their parents, teachers, coaches, instructors, principals, guidance councilors and other adults.  It is important for kids to be taught respect for adults, but it is also import for adults who are parents or work with kids to remember how much their own attitude affect the kids they are in contact with every day.  If their teachers and the other adults at school enjoy being there then so will the kids.

3. Adults are not the only ones who need work/life balance.

When you become an adult, it can be easy to envy kids their freedom.  With the pressures of bills, work, and parenting it can seem like kids have it easy by comparison.  Today, kids are under a lot of pressure to make good grades, be involved in multiple extracurricular activities and deal with the social pressures of school, which have only become more intense thanks to social media.  In order for them to love school, they need help balancing their schedule.  It is important for them to figure out how to manage their schoolwork, extracurricular activities and free time without becoming overscheduled and stressed out.  With a healthy work/life balance, they will be able to love school.

4. Help kids identify their interests and strengths.

Part of growing up is figuring who you are, what your interests are and what direction you want your life to go in.  That is a tall order!  Kids need room to experiment with different classes and different extracurricular activities.  Some they may quickly give up on.  Others may radically shape who they become and what they do with their life.  Their parents, teachers and the other adults around them should support this process.

5. Foster an environment that is supportive of all kids.

There is a growing awareness of the effect that school bullying and the toxic morass of the online world has on children and their development.  It is crucial for schools to actively promote a school environment that encourages kids who are struggling socially and experiencing bullying to seek help.  It is also crucial for that help to be available.  Too often children who tried to get help were dismissed and bullying was seen as normal childhood behavior.  For kids to love school it needs to be a place they feel safe, respected and listened to.  It also needs to be a place they can develop healthy friendships that enrich their lives.

School is pretty much a job that we give to kids.  Like the jobs we have as adults it is the place you must show up to every day, even when you don’t want to go.  The business of learning is work.  It involves mental focus and self-discipline.  That discipline is an important part of how school shapes kids.

The important knowledge and skills that classes such as math, science, history, languages, and English are critical to helping children become well-rounded, intelligent adults but the self-discipline it takes to show up every day, work with others and finish the assigned work might be the most important skill school can instill in us.

The work that kids must put into school and the social anxiety that can come from learning how to interact with other people every day should make it easy to understand why many kids struggle with school.  School can be an unpleasant experience for kids with learning disabilities, kids who have a conflict with teachers, kids who have social anxiety, kids who are bullied, and kids who struggle with the self-discipline you need to be a good student.  Some people simply don’t like school, and some even go as far as being scared to death of going to school (known as Didaskaleinophobia).

So, if school has the potential to be such an unpleasant experience, why do some kids love school so much?  We all went to school with some classmates who were full of enthusiasm and clearly enjoyed their classes.  What can we do to encourage any child to have a positive experience in school and have a huge smile on their face when they step foot into school?  It is possible to make school a place that even kids who were less than excited about going to school come to love.  We explore five ways to make sure kids love school.

1. Make learning interactive and creative.

Different kids have different learning styles.  Some kids can do well with traditional learning.  They can listen to a lecture, take notes, read textbooks and study, and earn good grades on quizzes and test.  That simply isn’t the case with many kids.  For them, learning needs to be an active, creative process.  They need to be presented with choices in how they will approach learning and they need to be up from their desks and engaged in learning activities.  Even students who do well with traditional teaching methods benefit from this approach.  An engaged student who is empowered to make choices is far more likely to love school.

2. Adults should be role models.

Kids look to adults to model how to behave.  Attitude is contagious!  Every day children are essentially at the mercy of adults.  They must listen to their parents, teachers, coaches, instructors, principals, guidance councilors and other adults.  It is important for kids to be taught respect for adults, but it is also import for adults who are parents or work with kids to remember how much their own attitude affect the kids they are in contact with every day.  If their teachers and the other adults at school enjoy being there then so will the kids.

3. Adults are not the only ones who need work/life balance.

When you become an adult, it can be easy to envy kids their freedom.  With the pressures of bills, work, and parenting it can seem like kids have it easy by comparison.  Today, kids are under a lot of pressure to make good grades, be involved in multiple extracurricular activities and deal with the social pressures of school, which have only become more intense thanks to social media.  In order for them to love school, they need help balancing their schedule.  It is important for them to figure out how to manage their schoolwork, extracurricular activities and free time without becoming overscheduled and stressed out.  With a healthy work/life balance, they will be able to love school.

4. Help kids identify their interests and strengths.

Part of growing up is figuring who you are, what your interests are and what direction you want your life to go in.  That is a tall order!  Kids need room to experiment with different classes and different extracurricular activities.  Some they may quickly give up on.  Others may radically shape who they become and what they do with their life.  Their parents, teachers and the other adults around them should support this process.

5. Foster an environment that is supportive of all kids.

There is a growing awareness of the effect that school bullying and the toxic morass of the online world has on children and their development.  It is crucial for schools to actively promote a school environment that encourages kids who are struggling socially and experiencing bullying to seek help.  It is also crucial for that help to be available.  Too often children who tried to get help were dismissed and bullying was seen as normal childhood behavior.  For kids to love school it needs to be a place they feel safe, respected and listened to.  It also needs to be a place they can develop healthy friendships that enrich their lives.

Are you a Cyberbystander?

cyberbystander for online bullies

People talk a lot about cyberbullies and their victims. One part of this social ill that people rarely talk about is how bystanders effect the situation. Some researchers call them “cyberbystanders.” Cyberbystanders are those who watch cyberbullying while it happens.

They are the other people in chat rooms or on social media apps who can read the posts that the bully posts to the victim.

Cyberbystanders can be middle-school kids, college students or even business associates. These people will watch the exchange and have a chance to speak up. But do they?

Many studies have been done to see exactly what happens to cyberbystanders. A university study found that only one out of ten cyberbystanders will take a stand during the exchange. The action these people take is usually limited to posting support for the victim or posting comments that the bully should back off.

Most of the time, though, cyberbystanders do nothing. The studies seem to show that cyberbystanders didn’t want to get the middle of a situation that was none of their business. They didn’t seem to make the connection that they were on a public site—making everything that happened there public.

Some of the cyberbystanders who did nothing during the bullying did take action afterwards. They sent comments to moderators or to the site’s security officers. Moderators and site security can remove offending posts and even ban bullies from the site.

Companies are taking cyberbullying more seriously these days and will often respond to comments within hours. This can help prevent further bullying, but still doesn’t make a difference to the victim of the bullying that’s already happened.

Cyberbystanders online act much like real-life bystanders. When an accident happens on the street, if there are lots of people watching, then people are less likely to help. In other words, the more witnesses there are, the fewer people will help.

That is the same online. If lots of people are watching the posts and tweets, the less likely someone will step in and defend the victim or criticize the bully. If only a couple people are reading the posts—or witness the accident—the more likely they are to step in and help. On the other hand, the more people that are following an ugly exchange online, the more brutal the bully will be. It seems that bullies like an audience.

Social scientists are still trying to understand the difference cyberbystanders make to online communication. What you can do is remember that you are probably a cyberbystander. Talk with your teachers, friends or family about what you should do when you see bullying happen online. Don’t be one of the nine out of ten who does nothing.

People talk a lot about cyberbullies and their victims. One part of this social ill that people rarely talk about is how bystanders effect the situation. Some researchers call them “cyberbystanders.” Cyberbystanders are those who watch cyberbullying while it happens.

They are the other people in chat rooms or on social media apps who can read the posts that the bully posts to the victim.

Cyberbystanders can be middle-school kids, college students or even business associates. These people will watch the exchange and have a chance to speak up. But do they?

Many studies have been done to see exactly what happens to cyberbystanders. A university study found that only one out of ten cyberbystanders will take a stand during the exchange. The action these people take is usually limited to posting support for the victim or posting comments that the bully should back off.

Most of the time, though, cyberbystanders do nothing. The studies seem to show that cyberbystanders didn’t want to get the middle of a situation that was none of their business. They didn’t seem to make the connection that they were on a public site—making everything that happened there public.

Some of the cyberbystanders who did nothing during the bullying did take action afterwards. They sent comments to moderators or to the site’s security officers. Moderators and site security can remove offending posts and even ban bullies from the site.

Companies are taking cyberbullying more seriously these days and will often respond to comments within hours. This can help prevent further bullying, but still doesn’t make a difference to the victim of the bullying that’s already happened.

Cyberbystanders online act much like real-life bystanders. When an accident happens on the street, if there are lots of people watching, then people are less likely to help. In other words, the more witnesses there are, the fewer people will help.

That is the same online. If lots of people are watching the posts and tweets, the less likely someone will step in and defend the victim or criticize the bully. If only a couple people are reading the posts—or witness the accident—the more likely they are to step in and help. On the other hand, the more people that are following an ugly exchange online, the more brutal the bully will be. It seems that bullies like an audience.

Social scientists are still trying to understand the difference cyberbystanders make to online communication. What you can do is remember that you are probably a cyberbystander. Talk with your teachers, friends or family about what you should do when you see bullying happen online. Don’t be one of the nine out of ten who does nothing.

Introducing Kids to Positive Role Models

positive role models for kids

Child development happens partly as traits emerge from within, but another big part comes with children learning from the adults in their lives. Role models convey values, acceptable types of interaction and behavior, and ways of living in the world to kids. Providing good role models for your kids is a key part in supporting their positive development.

How do you find role models for your child? You can be a good role model yourself, of course, but children benefit from the presence of additional adults they can look up to and seek advice from. Here are some resources for giving your kids positive role models.

Historical Figures

When you’re not yet sure what your kids’ interests are, start with well-known contemporary or historical figures to see who catches their attention. There are plenty of well-known men, both historical and in contemporary culture, for boys to look up to.

And when it comes to raising daughters, there are lots of positive role models we can point to both in present times and from history. Check out this curated video playlist of powerful women in history to share with your older kids.

For younger kids, even Matel has created dolls based on historic women. It really helps your cause to point to people who actually lived: their lives, their challenges, their triumphs, and their struggles. It might just be inspiring, and at the very least, it will be educational.

As your children express interest in particular well-known people, you can start looking around in your own community for in-person role models, too.

Community Members

Ask your kids what traits they admire in those famous figures and think about people in your life who embody those qualities. You can look for role models who have the types of careers your kids are curious about, but better than that, find people who display desirable traits like compassion, integrity, and motivation. Younger kids learn what kind of people they can be from their role models. When they’re older, it’s more suitable to help them connect with people in professions they may want to pursue.

Who do you know at your children’s school, at your workplace, at church, in your own social network, or in your family who might want to form a relationship with your kids? Think about who you admire; chances are the same qualities will make that individual a good role model for your kids.

Fictional Figures or Celebrities

Though there are some limits to fictional role models, your kids may at some point idolize a fictional figure, so better to prepare for it and send good options their way. Discuss with them what they like about their favorite characters and how they see themselves being similar or different.

When choosing media to watch with your sons, consider these shows with strong male role models. Trying to find books for your daughters that aren’t just about princesses or romance? Here is a helpful list sorted by age group (from preschool through teen years) of books with strong female characters.

Be prepared for your kids to come home one day wanting to be exactly like a celebrity they saw on YouTube. The most important thing in this situation is how you talk to them about these role models. Rather than discouraging them from their infatuation, ask them what they like about their new favorite person. Keep the conversation going by asking your kids what that celebrity is up to over time (and give yourself more opportunities to discuss poor decisions said person might make).

Yourself

You are the first and most potentially powerful role model for your kids. Your children are watching and learning from you before they can even speak—and your actions will convey more than your words. You can’t do everything perfectly, but there’s a lot you can do to show them what kind of person you hope they’ll become by being that person yourself. For instance, one tip  is to take good care of yourself, which will help you better care for your kids while demonstrating the value of self-care.

General advice is great, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to convey positive traits in day-to-day life. For instance, how do you teach your kids about healthy eating without simply telling them what to do? Try to include them in the food shopping and give them choices about what they want to eat.

Once you start exploring, you can find positive role models for your kids in all kinds of social circles and fields. A good mix of people—historical figures, community members, and fictional characters—gives your kids plenty of opportunities to identify different facets of being human they want to emulate and can provide you with ample material for discussion.

by Hilary Thompson

Child development happens partly as traits emerge from within, but another big part comes with children learning from the adults in their lives. Role models convey values, acceptable types of interaction and behavior, and ways of living in the world to kids. Providing good role models for your kids is a key part in supporting their positive development.

How do you find role models for your child? You can be a good role model yourself, of course, but children benefit from the presence of additional adults they can look up to and seek advice from. Here are some resources for giving your kids positive role models.

Historical Figures

When you’re not yet sure what your kids’ interests are, start with well-known contemporary or historical figures to see who catches their attention. There are plenty of well-known men, both historical and in contemporary culture, for boys to look up to.

And when it comes to raising daughters, there are lots of positive role models we can point to both in present times and from history. Check out this curated video playlist of powerful women in history to share with your older kids.

For younger kids, even Matel has created dolls based on historic women. It really helps your cause to point to people who actually lived: their lives, their challenges, their triumphs, and their struggles. It might just be inspiring, and at the very least, it will be educational.

As your children express interest in particular well-known people, you can start looking around in your own community for in-person role models, too.

Community Members

Ask your kids what traits they admire in those famous figures and think about people in your life who embody those qualities. You can look for role models who have the types of careers your kids are curious about, but better than that, find people who display desirable traits like compassion, integrity, and motivation. Younger kids learn what kind of people they can be from their role models. When they’re older, it’s more suitable to help them connect with people in professions they may want to pursue.

Who do you know at your children’s school, at your workplace, at church, in your own social network, or in your family who might want to form a relationship with your kids? Think about who you admire; chances are the same qualities will make that individual a good role model for your kids.

Fictional Figures or Celebrities

Though there are some limits to fictional role models, your kids may at some point idolize a fictional figure, so better to prepare for it and send good options their way. Discuss with them what they like about their favorite characters and how they see themselves being similar or different.

When choosing media to watch with your sons, consider these shows with strong male role models. Trying to find books for your daughters that aren’t just about princesses or romance? Here is a helpful list sorted by age group (from preschool through teen years) of books with strong female characters.

Be prepared for your kids to come home one day wanting to be exactly like a celebrity they saw on YouTube. The most important thing in this situation is how you talk to them about these role models. Rather than discouraging them from their infatuation, ask them what they like about their new favorite person. Keep the conversation going by asking your kids what that celebrity is up to over time (and give yourself more opportunities to discuss poor decisions said person might make).

Yourself

You are the first and most potentially powerful role model for your kids. Your children are watching and learning from you before they can even speak—and your actions will convey more than your words. You can’t do everything perfectly, but there’s a lot you can do to show them what kind of person you hope they’ll become by being that person yourself. For instance, one tip  is to take good care of yourself, which will help you better care for your kids while demonstrating the value of self-care.

General advice is great, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to convey positive traits in day-to-day life. For instance, how do you teach your kids about healthy eating without simply telling them what to do? Try to include them in the food shopping and give them choices about what they want to eat.

Once you start exploring, you can find positive role models for your kids in all kinds of social circles and fields. A good mix of people—historical figures, community members, and fictional characters—gives your kids plenty of opportunities to identify different facets of being human they want to emulate and can provide you with ample material for discussion.

by Hilary Thompson