Parenting Children to be Leaders Instead of Followers

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Do you feel pressured to sign your children up for lots of sports and activities so that they keep pace with the other kids, even though your gut tells you it’s too much? Do you fear they won’t measure up and succeed in this competitive world? Do you allow your children to spend too much time on smartphones and video game devices because that is how kids  communicate these days, and that depriving them of this will lead to social isolation? The reality is that all of these activities and devices that we provide our children have little to do with them and everything to do with us.  Here’s why.

We want our children tofit inbecause we fear that they won’t be happy and successful. Take a deep breath for moment and really think about this. Do you really want your children to “FIT IN”, to follow the crowd? Or, do you want them to be leaders? As parents we get sucked into the fitting-in trap and we may be setting-up our children to be future followers instead of future leaders.

Here are a few tips to help you raise children that are future leaders instead of followers.

Unplug the phone: Getting smart-phones for your children is the furthest thing from “smart.” You know how addictive these things are and how dangerous that world-wide-web is. So does it make sense to place these dangerous devices in your children’s hands? I understand that all of the other parents in the community are ok with it, but does that really make it ok? Wouldn’t you rather your child do things the safe way instead of societies way? If your children are among the few that don’t have smart phones then you’re already teaching them how to march to the beat of their own drum; to lead rather than follow. Their time to have a smart phone will come, there’s no need to rush it. And remember, this fear you have of your children being left behind is your fear, not theirs.

Limit the sports: Are your kid’s schedules jam-packed? Again, do you fear that they will fall behind and not be any good, and not have a social life? Again, these are fears, not facts. Here are the facts: If your child is on the football field practicing every night until 8:00, what he’s really missing out on is what he needs the most—time with you. You are your children’s teacher and mentor, and the only way you can teach them and guide them is if you are with them.

Rated M video games/Rated R Movies: Leaders play by the rules. Why? Because the rules are the rules. If you allow your children to play games and watch movies that aren’t age appropriate, what do you think that teaches them? It teaches them that it’s ok to break the rules, which is something leaders just don’t do. If you start playing by the rules your children will too.

In a nutshell, human beings tend do move with the crowd, to go with the flow. This is similar to the flock of birds in the sky or the school of fish in the sea. We unconsciously conform to the things that others around us are doing and we don’t even realize it. This is known as the collective consciousness or social conformity. Unless you start becoming more aware of this fact and pass it on to your children, your children will start to, well, follow the crowd. Here is a great clip from an old candid camera episode that will help you understand this more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgRoiTWkBHU

 

 

 

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Rachel Ehmke, 13-Year-Old Minnesota Student, Commits Suicide After Months Of Bullying

I just read the article below and I am super-angry.  Why did such a young life have to end so quickly.  I dissected the whole article and added my comments under certain captions.  I hope to bring to life some of the pieces of this tragedy that could have been prevented.  Perhaps a life could have been saved.

Rachel Ehmke, a 13-year-old seventh grader in Mantorville, Minn., died April 29 after hanging herself at her home. The months leading up to the tragedy were a whirlwind of peer abuse instances, her parents say.  (The bullying went on for months?  How did this slip through the cracks?)

Now following Rachel’s Friday funeral that was met with widespread community condolences, Rick and Mary Ehmke are speaking out against the bullying they say their daughter endured at Kasson/Mantorville Middle School and online.

Rachel’s family and friends say the teen fell victim to school bullying last fall when her chewing gum was stuck to her textbooks and the word “slut” was scrawled across her gym locker, the Austin Daily Herald reports. And while she was outgoing, athletic and friendly, the same group of girls reportedly threatened Rachel and kept calling her a “prostitute,” though she had never kissed a boy, according to KMSP.  (were the names of these students  reported to the school officials and were the students disciplined for their actions?  How did the bullies’ parents discipline their kids for their actions?)

Two days before Rachel’s death, an anonymous text was sent to other students at the school, KARE reports.”It was pretty explicit. Something to the effect of that Rachel was a slut and to get her to leave the Kasson-Mantorville School, forward this to everyone you know,” parent Chris Flannery told the station.  But after the text was reported to authorities, it was traced to someone who wasn’t a student at the school, according to Minnesota Public Radio. The district’s bullying policy prohibits threats both in person and online, and promises investigations within 24 hours of any reported bullying.  (How does the school go about “prohibiting” bullying, in this case cyber-bullying, by someone who doesn’t go to the school?  Is this really a “school” issue or should it be a police matter?)

Rachel reportedly pleaded with her father not to mention the bullying to school officials, for fear of worsening the situation.  (Well, did her father report it or did he let Rachel decide?)

A note that her parents found after her death read, “I’m fine = I wish I could tell you how I really feel,” alongside a picture of a broken heart, according to KMSP.

Dodge County authorities plan to meet this week to discuss possible criminal charges, the Star Tribune reports.  (Smart move) But Rick Ehmke says the family doesn’t plan to press charges against those who bullied his daughter.”They’re kids. They made some horrible decisions. If these kids would’ve known this would happen I’m pretty sure they never, ever would have done what they did,” Rick Ehmke told Minnesota Public Radio. (can charges be pressed against the parents of the bullies?) “Sadly enough, even those kids that know who they are will carry this bag their whole life. That’s a sad thing too, it really is.”

He also notes that the school should have taken heavier measures against the bullies when the taunting was first reported in the fall, adding that technology like phones and social media may have worsened an already bad situation by allowing the bully to essentially follow students home.  (Did the school provide the cell phones to the students or did the parents provide it to them?) 

Words hurt. Word can kill,” mother Mary Ehmke told KARE.

Community members have planned a prayer vigil and walk in Rachel’s memory for 2 p.m. May 19 at Mill Pond in Austin, Minn. The walk aims to show support for the Ehmke family and raise awareness for teen suicide and bullying.

The U.S. Department of Education has identified 16 “key components” in state bullying legislation, including a statement of scope, listing of enumerated groups, process of district policy review, definitions and reporting guidelines. Minnesota ranks last in the country with its state bullying law only covering two of the 16 components, according to an Education Department analysis of state bullying laws released in December. Nebraska ranks second-to-last by covering four of the 16 components. (When is the government going to create “at home” bullying legislation so that parents can prevent cyber bullying that occurs under their roof?)

Statement of scope, one of the most common components of state bullying laws, establishes where legislation applies and what conditions must exist for schools to have authority over student conduct.

According to the Education Department report, Minnesota is one of just three states — alongside Wisconsin and Arizona — that prohibits bullying but doesn’t define that behavior. The state also doesn’t provide for its districts a model bullying policy, and at a mere 37 words, its anti-bullying law is the shortest one in the country:

Each school board shall adopt a written policy prohibiting intimidation and bullying of any student. The policy shall address intimidation and bullying in all forms, including, but not limited to, electronic forms and forms involving Internet use.

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Stopping Bullying

http://news.yahoo.com/iowa-paper-devotes-front-page-fighting-bullying-175921792.html

This is a sad case of another young life wasted because of the mean and cruel acts of others, so I feel the need to reflect for a moment on the topic of bullying.  Many of you may not know that In addition to all I do as a licensed mental health professional and as a person in the media, I’ve also been a school counselor for the last 17 years.  So there is literally nothing that I haven’t dealt with in regards to kids, including bullying.

In the State of New Jersey, legislation was passed requiring public schools to follow new protocols with regard to harassment, intimidation and bullying.  New Jersey schools now have the strictest anti-bullying laws in the nation.   As someone in the center of all this, I can say that the schools play an important role in the identification, intervention and prevention of bullying.

In my experience over the years, the public schools have handled acts of harassment, intimidation and bullying in a swift, zero-tolerance manner.   With smart-phones and computers now the weapons of choice for bullies, schools are confronted with an even greater challenge because the majority of bullying no longer occurs in the schoolyard playground; it occurs in the playground known as a bedroom, fully equipped with an assortment of toys like smart phones and computers for bullies to play with.

Just about all of the tragic stories we hear with regard to bullying suggest putting more pressure on schools to do more but I think the real solution to this problem lies elsewhere—at home.  Parents will need to rethink how they allow their kids to use media and technology, such as smart phones, social networking sites and television content.  Whenever I present to parent groups on the topic of media use among today’s kids, the first thing I tell parents is to immediately remove televisions and computers from their child’s bedroom and to reconsider the allowance of a “smart phone”.  Schools will need to continue enforcing strict rules with regard to the use of electronic devices during school hours.

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