Being a father to two beautiful and wonderful children is one of my life’s biggest accomplishments. I am blown away daily by and proud of my children. Riley is 7, and Hailey is 4; each of them with their own very strong, confident and unique personalities. The love I have for them is immense and I do get very protective as well as vocal if I see anything that would potentially harm them. I am guessing you feel the same way as a parent.
Here is a story about how culture, the school system and life in general cheats, robs, and harms our children of discovering who they are, living their purpose, and flat out teaching them the wrong way to do life. This story will be followed up with the 3 S-Words you must absolutely teach your children to live by if you want them to be impactful, develop some grit and make a positive and powerful influence on the world.
Three years ago, Riley was sitting in the corner crying at his pre-school (an abnormal occurrence) when I came to pick him up. Before I could approach him to see what was wrong, I was approached by his “teacher” (the quotes mean I question the mere fact she calls herself this). His “teacher” begins to share all about how bad Riley was, how he broke her rules, how he continues to disobey her, so on and so forth. When she finished her berating, I asked her “what did he do that was so bad today?” She responded that he spit on a child. I asked her, “Did you ask him WHY?”
She was flabbergasted! As she took a large inhaling sigh, she began to tell me that the school never asks “WHY”. I replied, “That’s your problem, I always ask WHY!”
She explained, “He broke a rule and a rule is a rule. He must be reprimanded and punished,” as well personally labeling him as “bad” for breaking her rule. She then asked me, “I bet you didn’t get where you are with life and business by going around breaking rules, did you?”
I bit my tongue. I asked Riley what had happened, wondering sarcastically to myself why he just woke up one morning and turned from a sweet, loving, caring, happy young man to a “rule breaking, bad, disobedient, trouble making spit monster”.
“Dad, this boy was pushing me, kicking me, and bothering me with his words. I told him to stop and he didn’t. I couldn’t find a teacher, so I told him to stop again. Then he hit me in the nuts, and kept hitting me over and over in the nuts all day. I kept telling him to stop, but he wouldn’t, and it hurt and I didn’t like it. He wouldn’t stop so I spit on him. After I spit on him, he left me alone.” I was a proud dad. The first thing I said is, “I am so proud of you for sticking up, for speaking up and standing up for yourself. Your teacher is wrong.”
By the way, when the teacher was confronted with this new information, she refused to even ask the other child about it because “she didn’t see it herself” and “it would do no good to talk to him after the fact”.
Many environments tell and teach children to sit down, shut up, follow rules and trust authority. Now, in no way am I saying that we should raise kids in a loud, obnoxious, rebel against authority mindset. What I am saying is that there are three words, ideas and life values we must teach our kids. Most schools suck at it! Society labels a child as bad or rebellious, and will not take the time to teach them through this.
The three S- Words are:
- Show Up– Life is happening and you do have control over it. Kids must know that there is opportunity in life, and life is not just something that happens to them.
- Stand Up– Get off the stands and stop spectating. Stand up and stick up for yourself. Why? Because too many kids are being taught not to stick up for themselves or anyone else. The bully often has more rights than the victim. Once you learn to stand up for yourself, go and stand up for others. It is okay to fight, as long it is for good reason. You may break the “school” rule, but you will never break the human rule that nobody ever has the right to violate you, your space, who you are and what you stand for.
- Shield up– When you show up to life and stand up in life, something will stand against you. At this moment is where you make it or break it. You can either back down, or shield up. Shield up means you go into battle, you step into the fight. Teach your child to step into the heat, the un comfort, or what I call “the fight”. Showing up and standing up are worthless unless you are willing to back it up, throw their shield up and stand in the gap. This does not always refer to physical fighting, nut kicking and spitting. It can be as simple as your child showing up, being physically present, standing up in the face of a bully, and saying “try picking on somebody who will stand strong, confident, poised and fearless in front of you”. Most times the weak retreat.
And for crying out loud, ask WHY! I have always been amazed when one of my children “break a rule” at face value, and they are able to then explain a very important reason (sometimes only important to them) why they did it. They show me where their head and heart are at, and the motivation behind their actions.
These three S words are not a theory that may work. When you teach these to your children, while doing so with love, compassion, patience, kindness, and positive character, they will grow up to be warriors and will Live the Warrior Way. I would love to hear feedback, questions and comments about this topic.