At the start of the school year we shared, taught, encouraged, and expected our children to learn and live the first five habits of citizenship–to be trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, and caring. These citizenship traits involve key principles that grow strong citizens. We began with these because we were beginning with the end in mind. This week’s habit from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is Begin with the End in Mind.
Starting with direction toward where we want to end up is just plain smart. When our lives are grounded on sound principles, the direction we move and live guides us toward a happier and more successful life. There is an old saying that “a man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder”. A ship worries about the water without direction and can easily lose its way when the rudder isn’t in the water. The captain with a hand on the rudder guides it to its destination. It is way too easy in our modern society to get caught up in an abundance of things to do, thoughts to think, and places to go. Without a rudder directed by our principles, we can easily stray from our course. Guided by the end in mind and strengthened with the power of positive principles, each and every child can achieve the success they seek and deserve.
- Heart – Talk about your favorite hero and the principles he/she lives by.
- Mind – Develop a personal or family mission statement that describes your values, roles, and goals.
- Body – Set a specific goal for a favorite skill, sport, or hobby.
- Soul – Consider what kind of person you want to be and list 3-5 activities that will help you to be that person.
“Control your own destiny or someone else will.” – Jack Welch
“Curiosity is the spark behind the spark of every great idea. The future belongs to the curious.”
Over the past 5 weeks we re-minded ourselves of the five character traits that make us TeRiFFC citizens (trust, respect, responsible, fair, and caring). This week we begin the development of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. These habits help us to be and become leaders. The first habit is Be Proactive. (Ask your child about the hand signal for being proactive.) The premise of the habit is that we have the power to tell our brains what to do! It is such a simple concept, and frankly, simple to do. Feeding our thoughts with positive and productive ideas nourishes our lives with happiness and success. Thinking about doing something is the first step. Taking the next step and telling our brains to do it is the action. Actions lead to habits, habits to character, and character to destiny.
Trying v. Doing
There are so many occasions in life when the word “try” is incomplete and reactive. I think that it’s a half-baked idea. Trying is short sighted, but doing gets it done! The next time you congratulate your child for an accomplishment and they tell you, “Thank you, I tried my best,” remind them that they didn’t just try – THEY DID IT! Encourage them to say “I will” rather than “I’ll try”. Trying insinuates that we may have given our best effort. In fact, when we accomplish things, we did give our best effort. Proactively telling ourselves to do it is powerful and causes great actions.
Reactive language v. Proactive language
- I’ll try. v. I’ll do it!
- That’s just the way I am. v. I can do better than that!
- There’s nothing I can do. v. There is something I can do!
- I have to. v. I choose to!
- I can’t. v. There’s got to be a way!
- You ruined my day. v. I’m not going to let your bad mood rub off on me.
Being proactive also helps us to take responsibility for our actions and our choices. Proactive citizens don’t blame others, they challenge them and step up as change agents in families, schools, and communities. Encourage this habit this week with the following efforts:
Heart – reach out to a family member or friend who may need some encouragement.
- Mind – search for an answer to an unanswered question.
- Body – shop for foods that will support a healthy brain.
- Soul – take 5 minutes to enter the classroom of silence.
- “I am in charge of how I feel, and today I will choose to be happy and successful.”
“Don’t wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it”. – Cathy Hopkins
“Have a can-do-titude” – Mr. B
I am reminded of the song from Fiddler on the Roof, “Do You Love Me?”. Oops, now I will be humming it all day. 🙂 The husband, Tevye, asks his wife, Golde, “Do you love me?”. He asks her over and over. Her response is a bit fickle while she reminds him that she has washed his clothes for 25 years, cooked his meals, milked his cow, given him children. Yet, he continues to ask, “do you love me?”. Finally, upon reflection, Golde recognizes that taking care of him is a reflection of her love; she acknowledges that she loves him.
Caring is the constant time and energy we put into our relationships, self, and stuff. Ultimately, our care expresses our love and develops the deep relationships we share. As we remind ourselves and our children this week about what caring is, make it simple. Help them to see that the littlest gestures–the frequent efforts, the constant affirmations–these are the caring episodes of life that truly make a difference and provide the life and love that nurtures gratitude in our hearts and willingness in our days to reach out to make our home, school, and community a more pleasant place to live. I asked my daughter this morning what it is that I do as her dad that affirms to her that I care about her. Her response was, “You always hug me”.
Behaviors to Practice This Week
- Heart – reach out to a friend with a smile and a helping hand.
- Mind – spend extra time practicing academic skills.
- Body – give/get 8 hugs a day!
- Soul – think about the talents you share with others.
“A caring person in your life is like a heartbeat. A heartbeat isn’t visible, but silently supports your life”. – unknown author
“Some people care too much; I think it’s called love.” – Winnie the Pooh
Fair ball, fair catch, it’s in the fairway. Playing fair is a pretty easy concept when it comes to sports and now that we have instant replay, it assures it. Playing fair is pretty clear and expected on the field. Ironically, the game of life is, all too often, not so fair. How do we help our children understand that we should fight for fairness, but learn to productively cope with the inequities and injustices that challenge our days?
Rutgers professor, Elizabeth Tricomi, PhD., studied the concept of fairness and discovered that it is something hardwired in our brains and an expectation by the youngest of children. Moreover, we tend to have an inherent desire to see the underdog win and the playing field equalized. Helping our children to be fair and promote justice is a daily trial for parenting and educating children. One of my favorite simple parenting principles is to be “firm, fair, & friendly” when our wits are at an end. When we take a deep breath, gather our wits, and speak with truth and love, our children will learn to do the same.
Here are a few phrases that we can teach our kids to help them use intelligent remarks instead of hurtful ones:
- “Tell not yell.”
- “Be mad, but not mean.”
- “Be helpful, not hateful.”
Blame and shame words v. Playing fair words
- Liar! v. I heard you say something different before.
- You cheated! v. I don’t think that’s how this game is played. The rule is…
- You’re a tattle tale! v. I wish you would tell me first when you don’t like something I did.
- Move over! v. I don’t have enough room. Could you move?
- You’re not the boss of me! v. I don’t like it when you give me orders.
- You’re not my friend anymore! v. I don’t like what you said about me. It hurt me.
- You’re so mean! v. Stop teasing me. I don’t like it.
“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” – Dennis Wholey
“Fair doesn’t mean giving every child the same thing, it means giving every child what they need to succeed”. – Rick Lavoie