Soft Skills & Children

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Soft Skills & Children

Post  Ronin Mick on Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:36 am

What do you guys recommend about teaching soft skills to children?

Stranger danger and all that stuff is fine but what else?

Any guidance on hard skills for kids?

I remember another poster discussing their child's near abduction and it sent that oily worm of fear flopping around in my stomach.

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Re: Soft Skills & Children

Post  Chris on Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:51 am

Mick,

You really need to break this down into age groups. What is applicable to a child between 7 - 10 is not applicable to a child of 3 years old. Likewise a child of 11 - 14 will have a different skillset and a different capacity for processing and communicating requirements.

Personally, I think some good practice can be instilled at about 3 years of age. Up until that point it's all about the parent or the responsible adult ensuring the child is protected and safe from harm.

At over three years of age you can start to teach them some simple soft skills, those that do not require any problem solving or lateral thought. Simple, direct instructions for them to remember. Do this, go there etc. Introduce the concept of safe havens. i.e. shopping centres, police stations, hospital reception areas etc. These are places that we should be teaching kids to head for in the event that they need assistance or are separated from their parents.
Always have them carry a contact number on them. They may not be old enough to even use a telephone but if they can wander off they can learn how to point someone to the number.
Always ensure that they know they are NOT to go anywhere without an adult or their parents. That they are not to leave their school/home etc without that parent or responsible adult.

As they get older then soft skills will begin to include the stranger danger talk, the opening of communication to allow the child to speak freely on any topic. A sad truth is that we screwed up with the whole "stranger danger" concept when we should have been focused on "freedom and safety to speak". Letting children know who they can talk to "parents, teachers, brothers, sisters" etc and that they are safe to tell the truth about anything that happens to them or may happen to them. Bullying, sexual abuse, domestic violence etc.

Always, always, always emphasising the need to make sure that a responsible adult is with them or is aware of where they are at all times. As they grow older they will lie about where they are and who they are with, make sure they know that even if they are "told off" in the event of an emergency they are always safe and secure if they tell the truth. Make sure nothing trumps the concern that they are safe and sound. Even if they are bollocked later.

Kids bully each other from a very young age, five, six, seven year olds are very capable of physically and emotionally damaging each other through concerted physical and emotional attacks. At a young age trips, pushes, slaps may be suitable as hard skills training. As they reach seven to eleven years of age this may be expanded to include some other throws and takedowns. Judo based really. As the most common threat will come from other kids of the same age then really you just want enough hard skills to make them a hard target to other kids without anyone really getting hurt.

It's pointless thinking that they can prevail against a committed and determined adult physically BUT you may want to teach them the "electric eel" where they wriggle, squirm, scream and shout at the top of their voices with all of their might. You should also group people into red, amber, green groups with them. Parents/sisters/brothers etc may be "green" or safe. Police officers/teachers/doctors may be "amber" i.e. probably safe but you want mum and dad with you if these people are outside of their normal environment. i.e. someone says they are a police office but isn't in a police station or in uniform etc. and Red. These are strangers who maybe want you to go with them to another place that isn't a safe haven or they want you to get in their car or walk with them into an unknown place.

Again, it all depends on the development of the child.

As they hit teenage move into the more offensive hard skills and by the time they are approx 15 they can be training at the same level as an adult. Again, the most common physical threat is likely to be kids of the same age but the damage they can do is much greater. Also, you have the increased threat of attacks with weapons so that needs to be included in their training programme and their thinking.i.e. soft skills expanded to include likely threats and mode of attack. deployment and carriage of weapons etc. I think this comes to the forefront at this age as physical independence becomes more of a talking point and a likelihood.

just a few thoughts to set the ball rolling. It's really all about understanding the development of the child and their risk profile then fitting any training and conversations around that. Primary concern being that all of these things should be a positive influenece on their life, there should be nothing done which instills fear worry into their psyche. We can't let our paranoia and fear bleed into them. All of the kids classes I have taught worked on the 70% - 30% principle. 70% fun and games 30% harder work. The idea being to develop physical skills and discipline but ensure that they are having a good time first and foremost.

cheers
Chris
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Re: Soft Skills & Children

Post  Ronin Mick on Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:12 am

Chris:

Great post and I appreciate all the insight based on the different age groups.

I myself have a three year old but lots of older nephews. The always want to have Uncle Mick show them "some of his ninja stuff" but I try and get them to think about the soft skills too.

Your guidance really resounds with me and I think perspective on the child, their risk profile and staying a positive influence without mongering fear is a key concept for me to draw upon. Two of my nephews live in posh comfort while another had his mother murdered by an ex-boyfriend earlier this year.

Cheers,


Mick

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Re: Soft Skills & Children

Post  Peter on Fri Dec 16, 2011 1:53 pm

Lee Morrison has a great book on this subject called "The bogeyman is real-an intimate guide to self-protection for children and parents"
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Re: Soft Skills & Children

Post  Ronin Mick on Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:29 pm


Did a quick spin on Amazon and no luck with that title. Used copies of his other books were selling for big bucks. Don't want to pirate the man's work but does anybody have a more affordable path or better source.

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Re: Soft Skills & Children

Post  Ade on Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:33 am

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Re: Soft Skills & Children

Post  Wayne Harrison on Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:42 pm

Hi Chris

Chris wrote:

At over three years of age you can start to teach them some simple soft skills, those that do not require any problem solving or lateral thought. Simple, direct instructions for them to remember. Do this, go there etc. Introduce the concept of safe havens. i.e. shopping centres, police stations, hospital reception areas etc. These are places that we should be teaching kids to head for in the event that they need assistance or are separated from their parents.


Can i respectfully suggest another way of looking at the above? unless they happend to be at such a safe place already, in which case so would i... It of course is situation specific, but i i had a three year old child they would tend to never be that far from me. I have an 8 & 10 year old. If i lose them i'm not sure id like them to start trying to find any other place. I'd prefer them to stay put. Thy could have things to do such as cross roads, etc. High risk for a toddler that is scared, upset, cryng. Maybe the chil cant see or hear proper because of their emotions, tears.

Chris wrote:
Always ensure that they know they are NOT to go anywhere without an adult or their parents. That they are not to leave their school/home etc without that parent or responsible adult.

As they get older then soft skills will begin to include the stranger danger talk, the opening of communication to allow the child to speak freely on any topic. A sad truth is that we screwed up with the whole "stranger danger" concept when we should have been focused on "freedom and safety to speak". Letting children know who they can talk to "parents, teachers, brothers, sisters" etc and that they are safe to tell the truth about anything that happens to them or may happen to them. Bullying, sexual abuse, domestic violence etc.

you're hitting on a good issue, statistically is the danger to children is from people already known to either the family, or the family themselves. 'Stranger Danger' is a confusing concept. the kid isnt allowed to talk to stranger. Yet if they dont interact with someone in the street with the parent they are scolded. Sooo confusing. also, with stranger danger, there is also the idea of should they even go with a police officer, or other responsbile adult. I teach my kids to refuse to go with anyone. Even a cop. I assume a cop will get someon to contact us. and the cop will understand. A genuine police oficer shoul not force the issue save in the threat of life? Leads me to ask, how does a child know a genuine cop? Must it be in uniform? what abut a detective? Sooo gray areas for a youn child once more. and, kids tend to see things in black or white.

Chris wrote:

It's pointless thinking that they can prevail against a committed and determined adult physically BUT you may want to teach them the "electric eel" where they wriggle, squirm, scream and shout at the top of their voices with all of their might.

excellant advice. Which can work! It's about the only thing physical that has any chance of being effective at such an early age.

Ronin Mick, i'll paste two articles i wrote on kids last year.

Getting it clear with our kids safety part 1


It is, our should be, within the remit of most self defence instructors to be able to competently teach young children not only physical intervention techniques, but additionally to teach with up to date information. Sadly though, or more worrying, this isn't always the case. Take for example, the phrase 'stranger Danger'.



'Stranger Danger' is itself regarded by many child safety experts worldwide as actually bringing with it it's own set of 'dangers'. A concept that was without a doubt created out of good intentions, it is decades old, and is at least taught in an in-effective way, if not a potentially dangerous one.



How is it ineffective?



One reason is that in modern times, the majority of child abductions are done via someone already known to the child & family, and might even be family members.

If the purpose of 'Stranger Danger' is to make a child wary of strangers, it begs the question what my 7 & 9 year old kids should do if they wander too far. Am i meant to expect my children to break down sobbing, in the hope some adult will firstly be around to see them, and secondly, actually do something that wont alarm my kids further.
When an adult tells a child anything about strangers, they may invariably imagine someone who looks ugly, or creepy. Which is most certainly not always the case.
Most kids will automatically become freinds with someone if that person is freindly with them. A simple "Hello" is enough for a child to begin to trust someone, and for that person to being to be a 'freind'.
Kids are told strangers are dangerous, yet children are also scolded when they appear 'rude' to a stranger. Such contrdictory behaviour on the parents part greatly weakens the purpose of 'Stranger Danger'.
As already pointed out, most child abuse is carried out by someone whom the family already knows. Therefore, any form of 'Stranger Danger' is only a small part of the overall picture.



Some warning signs:



Feeling very scared or withdrawn, for no apparent reason
Non-attachment to parent/guardian
Extremely agressive or passive behaviour
Frequent injuries
Shows fear when touched
Difficulty walking or sitting
Shows sexual knowledge inappropriate to his age
Running away from home
Avoidance of one particular person



This whole subject is huge, the above are only examples. So, what should we do?



We must continually educate ourselves. And not rely on the way we were ourselves parented, for times change. Societies needs change. What was relavant 20 or 30 years ago, is now nearer to being obsolete.



Things we can do:



Touch. A Child does not have to touch anyone, if they don't want to. Even a parent be it a hug or kiss. In my opinion, this makes it much easier for a child to be able to judge things clearer.
If something an adult asks or does, makes a child feel uneasy, the child has a right to say no.
A parent or guardian will never scold or chastise a child for coming to them, if there is something troubling them.
Not all strangers are bad. If a child becomes lost, they should be told not to wander. And if an adult comes to them to help, they must not go away with the adult, under any circumstances. A helpful adult will be willing to stay with the child, and summon help in some other way.
A child must never go with anyone else, unless the parent of guardian says it is ok.
Children enjoys games. Create age appropriate role-play games, to teach 'what would i do if..'
A child should be shown that it is ok to trust their own natural instincts.



The subject is huge. It took me 20 minutes to write this article, less for you to read it. Keep yourselves educated, in an ever changing world, positive concepts also need to evolve.Till next time,



Stay Safe

Wayne

o What Should We be Teaching Kids?



Following hot on the heels of our previous article on same subject, just what should we be teaching children in self defence then!!?



As previously mentioned, 'Stranger Danger' is somewhat of a misnomer. Most abductions/attacks do happen via someone already known. However, it would be complacent and irresponsible if i didn't address this subject.





Here are some tips:



A Child should never go anywhere with a stranger, without parental/guardian consent
There are 'SAFE Strangers'. Teach children to look out for them. People with their own kids, or Police Officers for example.
Even with 'SAFE Strangers', the child must never go alone with them. EVER. SAFE strangers will understand this if the child says it. And will seek to get help in other ways.
Whilst out playing, Children should try to stay within a group. Predators will seek out children alone, or side-lined from others.
There is no self defence system in the world that will adequately enable a child to take out an adult or teenager. Awareness & avoidance are key.
Make Children aware that no adult should be asking THEM for help. Often this is a ploy to gain the childs trust.



Children love games, they form their early social interaction through them. Using age appropriate role-playing scenarios are a great way to impart this vital knowledge to our most precious resource. This planets future.







warmest wishes
Wayne
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Re: Soft Skills & Children

Post  Ronin Mick on Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:47 pm

As I suspected, you guys are a wealth of information.

The "Stranger Danger" concept always nagged at me because I want my kids to look new acquaintances in the eye and introduce themselves when they are with mom and dad. Bridge those manners into additional social skills that pay dividends when it comes to making friends and being in new environment.

Reinforcing the concept of trusting their instincts and "spider sense" can't hurt either.

I've got a good start here for coming up with some guidelines and bit-sized teachable moments with my boy.


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