Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kids - Are They "Builders" Or "Destroyers"

In the movie South Pacific there is a song titled "You've Got To Be Taught". Kids are taught, or not taught, to be a builder or a destroyer.  I do not mean that we adults set out to teach our kids the "builder/destroyer" concept.  It happens when their normal behavior methods of getting angry, yelling, being a bully, saying cruel things to each other and their parents.  We adults say "Oh, it is their age - they will outgrow it."Most of the kids do outgrow it; however, only after it has been pointed out to them that this is unacceptable behavior.  If it is not corrected when they start performing these normal behavior patterns, chances are they will never outgrow them and could grow up to be a destroyer instead of a builder.  Kids are too unpredictable and can figure out on their own, after a while, what is acceptable behavior and what is not.I believe a prime illustration comes from my case files when a mom, from Ohio, called me to say the teacher of her son had e-mailed her stating that he was being teased and not socializing with the other kids in his class.  She hired me, as a coach, to talk with her son to discover IF there was a problem.  After collecting some background information on the kid from his parents, an interview was set up for the purpose of discussing any problems.  At the time of the interview, he was 8 years old.  His mom just took him to the doctor for his physical and the doctor reported that her son had the body of a 11-year old in height and weight.  As we talked, I asked him if he experienced other kids teasing him in anyway.  He quickly said "yes".  I asked him "if he would talk to me about it."  He said, "Sure".  Here is how the conversation went (been cut-down to highlight my point of how some kids figure out things on their own).ME:    You have experienced other kids teasing you?KID:    YesME:    Tell me what it sounds like when other kids tease you.KID:  "Hey Dumbo" - "Hey Shorty" and things like that.ME:   How does that make you feel?KID:   It hurts my feelingsME:   I bet it does.  What do you do with those feelings?KID:  I give the kid his first warning.  I go to the kid and say "When you say things like that, it   hurts my feelings and I want you to stop."ME:  You give them a warning.  That sounds fair.  Does that work?KID:  Most of the time "no"ME:  Then what do you do?KID:  When it happens again.  I report it to teacher because she is the boss at school.ME:  Does that work?KID: SometimesME:  If it does not work, what do you do then?KID:  I fire them.ME:  WOW.  You fire them - How Do You Fire A Kid?KID:  I stop playing with them.ME: It sounds like "3 strikes and you are out".KID: YesME:  Does that make you lonely?KID:  No - I have other friends that do not tease me.ME:  Can parents help in anyway?KID:  They can have a teacher/parent conference and fix the problem.ME:  What if that does not work?  KID:  Then they need to have a parent/parent/teacher conference.ME:  What is that?KID:  The parent of the kid being teased and the parent of the kid doing the teasing and the teacher should have a conference together and fix the problem.ME: Do you have anything else you want to say about this?KID: No.It appears this kid has figure out that he would do 3 things:  1) Tell the other kid his feelings are hurt and ask the kid to stop the teasing 2) Tell someone in authority (the teacher) and 3) Fire the kid and walk away from the problem.I am almost certain that somewhere along his life an adult (probably one of his parents) took the time to teach him how to sum up a problem; develop a plan to handle the problem; stick with it (no matter what others might say) and take action to solve the problem.This kid could possibly be one of our future "builders".  And, the kid who ignored his warning, ignore the counsel of the and got left behind on the playground could grow up to be a "destroyer" if he has not yet figured out. on his own, that his behavior is unacceptable and disrespectful.