Heroic Teen

In my last post, I shared my disgust about how nobody did anything to stop a recent beating on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois.  My conclusion is that we need more kids who will step up and help those who are in danger of abuse.  We need more parents, teachers, and coaches to show kids when and how to deal with bullies.

Well, here’s a young man who deserves all the praise in the world.  He’s the real deal.  Meet Kaleb Eulls.

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MSNBC reported: Eulls first opened the emergency door in the back and told the other kids to get off the bus. At the same time, he tried to get the girl to focus on him.  “I just tried to catch her attention to get the girl to point the gun directly at me and not at anyone else,” Eulls said. For several tense minutes, as panicked kids tried to get off the bus, Eulls faced the girl, calmly telling her to either give him the gun or put it down. He told Holt that he was aware that he could have been shot, but if the girl was going to pull the trigger, he would rather that she shot him instead of one of his three younger sisters or another student.


Dealing with Bullies

There was a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois, this week.  This became a front page story because it was all caught on video, and it’s a jaw-dropper.  As a TV news story, it doesn’t get much better, since it involves violence, public schools, racism, and children.  It’s such a juicy story that the local newspaper had to shut down the comments section of their internet site because they were getting so many comments, most of which were so hateful.

You can see the story and the video for yourself (click here).  It’s not pretty.

screen-captureThere isn’t anything shocking about a fight on a school bus. But the thing that is so awful is that most of the students cheered the bully as he unloaded heavy closed-fist punches to the boy’s face, one after another after another.  It was bloodlust.  It was not a fight; it was a beating.  The victim was unable to defend himself or flee, so he got thoroughly abused by two violent bullies, who were cheered on by all the kids surrounding the victim.  In fact, many of them took pictures of the victim’s bloody face while laughing at him.

There are many problems with this scene.  Aside from the obvious guilt of the two attackers, there is one person who is partially responsible.  The bus driver did not even stop the bus, when clearly the sights, sounds, and movements indicated an assault and battery.  He just drove down the road, doing nothing to stop the abuse.

But the larger problem, which I want to focus on, is that nobody had the courage to do anything to stop the beating. They just let the bigger, faster, stronger students beat in the face of the student who was unable to stop it. Now, it’s to be expected that some students on the bus would be so shocked and afraid that they would not know what to do.  But surely somebody could have done something.

If my son or daughter had been on that bus, I would have asked him or her something, which might seem harsh to some.  “Where were you when that boy was getting his face beaten in?”  Followed by, “What could you have done to help that boy?”

You see, there were many options that these kids failed to do:

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Teenage Media Addiction

Children of the Screen

As much as I like FaceBook and text messaging, I know that it needs to be limited a great deal in my life.  Like so many things, I have learned over the years to balance good things like FB and texting so that they don’t take up all my time and energy.  In fact, for most adults, we know our limits, whether it’s ice cream, television, shopping, or wine.  We may blow it now and then, but we learn to balance, or else it consumes us and we suffer in the long-run.

Unfortunately, teens and preteens are not very good at balancing the good things in their lives. I remember coming home from high school football practice and eating an entire large bag of Doritos and a couple bottles of Yoo-Hoo as a snack.  I remember watching three movies in a row on summer nights.  I remember playing video games for five hours straight.  And this was not at all unusual for me or for my friends.  Kids, by nature, are much more impulsive, much less logical, and much less educated about the consequences of their behavior.  They do because they can, and they don’t truly believe that there can be too much of a good thing.

cell girl

Here is an article which describes the addiction of texting and Facebook in the lives of so many teens.  It’s worth reading.  Click here

This is where we, the adults, need to get involved and discuss the consequences of electronic addictions.  We need to provide leadership.

First, we need to understand the power of teenage addictions – that teens are far more prone to addictive behavior, and their brains record those good feelings intensely and permanently.  It sets the default buttons in the brain, so that when the child grows older, those addictions come back again and again.  In other words, a teen who is addicted to something will feel that pull toward that particular addiction throughout his or her life.

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The Power of Choice

Children lack power.  They can control very little in their lives, until they get a license to drive and the keys to the car.  So, when they don’t get choices, they seek power; they just find ways to push our buttons, in the hope that perhaps we will give them choices.  You can’t blame them for wanting to have a little control over their lives.  They are human (most of the time ☺), and humans by nature want freedom, even if it’s just a bit here and there.  But when humans are backed into a corner and have no choices, they rebel. They find a way – any way – to get a little power, a little control, a little something that makes life more enjoyable for them.

“Children, quite naturally, find out that parents are defenseless against disrespect.  Thus parents are terrified by it…So we need a way to manage ourselves so these guys will have no success in pushing our buttons, no matter which way they poke and prod our psyche…” (Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk p.101)gripe out

Before you can give a child a choice, whether it’s in the classroom or in the car, you have to be in control of yourself.  You cannot, must not, give children choices (power) because you are sick of hearing them whine and complain.  Instead, you have to get yourself into neutral gear, not frazzled, fried, or frustrated.  That’s easy to say, but what do you do when your child (or student) is angry and you are losing patience?  You have to downshift.  Decelerate.

“When your child wants to argue with you, these one-line phrases are your best friend.  They are your sanity.  They are a way for you to kick your brain into neutral while the other person is trying to drive you into the Crazy Ditch.  They help you become sort of like a cloud, something that doesn’t react – something that cannot be controlled.  When your kid is throwing a fit, it is absolutely the worst time to have a reasonable conversation with that person.  Your child is absolutely emotionally wasted.  Your child is not looking for solutions at this time; he or she is looking for victims. This is a good time to just be a cloud.  Say, “I know.  I’m sorry.”  You are telling your child, ‘I am going to manage me while you struggle with you.’” (104-105)

To decelerate an argument, you have to stop lecturing and start giving very short responses to your child’s complaining, whining, worrying, and begging.

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Role Models

Charles Barkley, the great basketball player and television personality, once said at the height of his NBA career, “I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids. If you want a role model, look up to your parents. A lot of guys can dunk a basketball who are in jail; should they be role models?”

Chuck caught a lot of heat for his seemingly callous remarks because it sure seemed that he just didn’t care about kids or anyone other than himself.  However, if you listened to his follow-up remarks, he clarified that kids should be looking up to their parents, coaches, teachers, and other adults who are sacrificing and training them in the real world.  In addition to being obnoxious and entertaining, Sir Charles was “tipping his cap” to the real heroes in the world and downplaying his own ability to inspire young people to true greatness.

He knew that he was not even remotely qualified for the job of role model.  And he certainly didn’t want any of that responsibility.  He half-joked, “I heard Tonya Harding is calling herself the Charles Barkley of figure skating. I was going to sue her for defamation of character, but then I realized I have no character.”

Now, some of us want to be role models for kids.  But if we are honest, we must admit that we aren’t worthy of the title “role model.”  We are all broken people with insecurities and character flaws.  And that is on our good days.  However, perfection is not a requirement for being a role model.
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Don’t Baby Them

BENEFITS OF STRUGGLING

“A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily.

But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened!

In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life.  If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we could never fly.”

chrysalis

I got this in an email forward, years ago.  It’s simple, yet profoundly important in relation to helping 10-14 year olds in their struggle in the chrysalis of adolescence.

Too often adults expect too little of the kids in their care.  Adults can cripple kids by solving every problem for them or by removing every painful thorn in their path.  It’s best not to baby them too much.  They need to stretch and writhe in solving their own problems in order to grow up strong enough to solve much bigger problems later in life.

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Growing Up and Away?

A friend of mine recently expressed frustration with the way that everyone seems to write off their kids around the age of 12.  He said that he hears people say very matter-of-factly things like, “Well enjoy your little boys now because it won’t be long before they are teenagers and they stop loving you.”  Or they sadly bemoan, “Yeah, I miss those days when my kids hugged me everyday and meant it.”  Or they state in exasperation, “I don’t even know who this kid in my house is anymore.”

My friend is worried about this happening to him.  He has three boys under the age of 7, and he is absolutely loving them.  He told me about how his oldest boy is learning to share and sacrifice for his little brothers at times.  He described it as absolutely beautiful.

And then he said, “I don’t want to lose my connection with them.  I don’t think I have to, but everybody is telling that it will happen, as if there isn’t anything I can do about it.”

Continue reading Growing Up and Away?