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Monday, 24 September 2018

Raise polite children with good behaviour and good manners.

How to teach your child good manners and where to start.


One of the best compliments a parent can receive is when someone compliments your children’s good behaviour. This usually happens when you as a parent aren’t around to check up on your children and another adult notices their good behaviour. Good behaviour is something that is taught, so is bad behaviour. That means if your children have bad behaviour there is hope and can be fixed, since behaviour is something that we learn.

In this article we will discuss the following important aspects of raising children to have good behaviour:

If you want good behaviour, show good behaviour.Explain why certain behaviours are good.Raise children with the awareness of others.Reward good behaviour.

  

If you want good behaviour, show good behaviour.

How many parents wish their children would just speak politely to adults, yet the parents themselves speak in a demeaning way to their spouse or children? If your children display bad behaviour, it means you have to do a bit of self-reflection on your own behaviour. Children rarely do what you say, they do what you do.


Explain why certain behaviours are good.

Children are curious by nature and absorb information like sponges. Don’t just tell them what to do, explain why they should do it. When you explain why they should be courteous, they will have more information about the topic and regard the action you want them to perform as more important. For example, if you want them to have good table manners, explain why it is important: It will make your friends feel very uncomfortable to watch you eat with your mouth open and they see all the chewed food in your open mouth.


Raise children with the awareness of others.

Children are born selfishly simply because nature intended their survival instinct to only look out for themselves. However, as your children grow up it is important to teach them to consider the people around them and their feelings. That is called awareness, because you are aware of not just your own needs and feelings, but also the needs and feelings of the people around you.

Emily Post, American author famous for writing about etiquette, once said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”


Reward good behaviour.

Positive reinforcement means to reward good behaviour so that, that behaviour is associated with the reward. It’s simply a form of encouragement. This means you as a parent need to notice the good things your children do and thank them for it. Why does this technique work? If your children try their best to do something good but it doesn’t get noticed or rewarded, but they always get punished for their bad behaviour, then the bad behaviour is the only actions that get attention. All the attention is therefor on the bad behaviour and if they ever want your attention they will continue to display bad behaviour.



We want to encourage all the parent’s our there to raise their children with good manners and invest in teaching them good behaviour. Remember, what you teach your children now will be the qualities they have as adults. Andy Andrews puts it this way: “The goal is not to raise great kids. It’s to raise kids who become great adults.”

Monday, 17 September 2018

What to do when your child is being bullied.


Bullying, verbal- and physical harassment. What is it? Why does it happen? How to deal with it?




Bullying has been taking place from generation to generation. Bullying isn’t something new and in the digital age bullying has evolved even further, making it easier for bullies to manipulate their victims. As parents we always want our children to be happy and safe, especially in educational environments like school. However, sometimes bullying happens, therefore parents need to know what to do. Walt Disney once said, “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.” We believe parents should take action to protect their children against all harm to ensure healthy, growing minds.

In this article we discuss the following aspects revolving bullying:

What is bullyingThe result of bullyingWhy bullying happensWhat to do when your child is being bullied



What is bullying

Bullying is defined as the use of superior strength or influence to intimidate a person. Usually this results in forcing the victim to do something that they don’t want to do, causing the victim pain, injury and/or distress. Bullying in school is harmful to students’ well-being and their development, because the victims of bullies in school are fearful, lose concentration and might even have physical injury if not treated.

According to www.stopbullying.gov there are three types of bullying, namely, verbal bullying, social bullying and physical bullying. Verbal bullying includes malicious acts such as teasing, name-calling threatening and inappropriate comments. Social bullying includes nasty attempts to destroy someone’s reputation or credibility. This includes spreading rumours, embarrassing the victim, or intimidating someone not to be friends with the victim. Physical bullying is the act of hurting the victim’s body or possessions, through pushing, breaking, kicking, spitting or making rude hand gestures.

All types of bullying is equally damaging to the victim and shouldn’t be taken lightly. 



The result of bullying

The result of being bullied as a child can be very severe. The following are examples, based on past studies, of what can happen when a child is bullied:
  • A decline in the victim’s performance in activities that he/she loved to do.
  • The victim has increased anxiety and stress-levels.
  • The victim becomes isolated as a result of distrust in people.
  • Loss in confidence and self-esteem.
  • Psychological damage growing up and becoming a dysfunctional adult.
  • Worst case scenario, bullying can lead to suicide. This is every parent’s nightmare and we want to prevent this at all costs.


Bullying is never acceptable. In order to prevent bullying, we need to understand why it is happening.




Why bullying happens

Bullying happens as a result of many factors and no one child is like another, each grow up in different environments, different households and backgrounds. However, bullying as a result of circumstance is never acceptable. Therefore, we want to break down a few common factors why children start bullying others.

Having low self-esteem

Children; and people in general; with low self-esteem usually attempt to bring others down. This is as a result of jealousy and insecurity. To understand more about jealousy, read our blog, ‘Understanding and overcoming jealousy from peers.’ To understand more about developing a healthy self-esteem, read our blog ‘How to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem.’ When children have a lack of self-esteem they try to impress their friends by bringing others down. They feel the need to impress their peers, but the only way they know how is to make their victims feel worse than what they are feeling.


Feeling powerless

When children feel powerless, because of factors bigger than themselves, like financial pressure at home, conflict between parents, underperformance in school activities, they themselves might be bullied, etc. they tend to act out. This means they project their frustration and fear onto others in an aggressive way without thinking about the consequences. These powerless children have no understanding of coping with frustration, anxiety, stress and conflict, because they have never been taught how to deal with it. We suggest consulting with a school psychologist to help manage stress, fear and anxiety.

Pressure to bully

When children observe their friends bullying a victim, they might join in, because they are either afraid of being bullied themselves, or they are afraid of being left out of the friend group. This is peer pressure to bully. These bullies feel it is necessary to bully to stay part of the friend group, even if they know it is wrong.

Lack of accountability

Often children who bullies have never faced true consequences for their actions. They might have done something similar but to a minor degree, or they didn’t get caught, therefore they didn’t get into trouble. Now they keep pushing the limits to see with what else they can get away with, without getting caught.

So, what happens when you find out your child is being bullied? What can you, as a parent, do?




What to do when your child is being bullied

The best way to protect your child from bullying is to teach them about bullying from an early age. When a child knows how to identify bullying early on they can speak up, get an authority figure involved and solve the problem at the beginning stages.

However, what if your child is currently being bullied? Here are our recommendations*:

Take immediate action.

Many parents might want to stay out of it or let the kids sort themselves out, but this is the wrong approach. Your children need to know you are there for them and that you will protect them. When you first pick up signs of distress or a change in your children’s character, speak with your children and find out if there is bullying involved. If they tell you that there is someone at school bullying them, approach the situation calmly and assure them that you will help them handle it. Find out how severe the bullying is and understand why it happened. Ask your child if they did anything to provoke the other child or even if your child hurt the other kid first. We want to emphasise the fact that your child needs to tell the truth and not just seek attention to accuse another child falsely, because if start countering bullying and your child falsely accused a child, your credibility will be on the line.

However, if you established that this is pure bullying and that your child is truly the victim of another child’s aggression, then proceed to take further steps.

Speak to the school.

The first step is to inform the school. Most schools have anti-bullying strategies; however, it might not always be effective. Very often bullying can happen on school grounds without teachers knowing. Therefore, you need to inform the principal and your child’s teachers about the situation. Write a formal letter explaining who the bully is, how your child is being bullied and why the teachers need to be concerned. You can also make an appointment with a teacher, but make sure you give them an explanation in writing (either electronically or by hand). This serves as proof that they are now informed. Tell the teacher and principal that they need to investigate the bullying and to stop any further bullying that takes place on their grounds. This way the people who is supposed to ensure the safety of your child cannot ignore the problem anymore.

If the bullying was very severe and you need to raise the urgency, get a lawyer to send this letter so that the school knows how urgent the situation is. Also document any physical abuse by photograph, if there were any, and if your child has undergone emotional trauma, seek the help of psychologist or therapist.

Send the message loud and clear.

The second step is to inform the bully’s parents of the situation and let them know how important it is for them to hold their child accountable. This can be done by informing them that you will take legal action if the bullying doesn’t stop immediately. Emphasise the fact that if the bullying doesn’t stop you will get law enforcement involved. Let them know the school is aware of the situation and there will be severe consequences if their child doesn’t stop. There’s and anonymous quote that says “It’s about showing you how to hold bullies and in some cases their parents, responsible and accountable.”

By now, the school and the parents of the bully are aware of the situation. Along with the threat of involving legal officials, the bully should feel a lot of pressure to stop the bullying. Normally, when a bully feels that the weight of their consequences (like being expelled from school or even a criminal record if there were severe physical bullying) is much greater than the pleasure they get out of bullying, they will stop.

What if the bullying doesn’t stop?

This is one of a parent’s biggest fears, “What if I tried speaking to the teachers and the bully’s parents and the bullying still continues?” Well, then you have to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit. This is a painful process, but the safety of your child will depend on it. Rather be the parent to upset a few people than having to deal later with bigger consequences – for example your child might develop psychological damage or depression or in extreme cases the loss of your child as a result of suicide. Your lawyer will help you take the further required actions.


Your actions can change the whole school.

The second that one bully is successfully stopped, there is a fantastic transformation in the way that schools are run. Teachers will be more vigilant, bullies will think twice before they target or hurt other children and children who were also bullied might finally have the guts to stand up to their own bullies. Don’t be afraid to be the parent that took a stand against bullies, it is in the best interest of all children in the school.


We want to encourage all parents who are dealing with issues where their children are being bullied. Stay strong and protect your children. There’s is an anonymous quote that says: “Bullying is not a reflection of the victim’s character, but rather a sign of the bully’s lack of character.” Remind your children that a bully’s action isn’t their fault, it is always the bully’s fault. Help your children overcome these situations and rise above the circumstances.


*ASP School Projects’ advice is not to be seen as legal counsel, but mere suggestions to parents. If bullying is severe we recommend contacting authorities or the Child Helpline via telephone on 08000 55 555.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Surround yourself with friends that also strive for success.


Why to avoid friendships that put you under peer pressure.



Finding the right friends when you are in school can be difficult and a little frightening. In school you are assigned to a specific classroom and this can have a huge impact on your social circle. Sometimes you become friends with people and sooner or later you might realize you feel down or your self-esteem gets a knock. This means you aren’t surrounded with uplifting and positive people and you might need to make a change to your friend group. To understand more about self-esteem and build your self-confidence, check out our following blogs:



In this blog article we will discuss the following relating to the kind of friendships you need for a happy and successful school career:


1. Why you need to surround yourself with friends that also strive for success.
2. Why you need to avoid friendships that only bring you down.
3. How to surround yourself with uplifting friends.



1. Why you need to surround yourself with friends that also strive for success.

Famous motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “You become like the five people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully.” This means that if you become like the five people you spend most of your time with and four of those five people are always negative, judgemental and pessimistic, you will likely also become negative, judgemental and pessimistic. However, if you spend your time with friends that are positive, enthusiastic and optimistic, you will also become positive, enthusiastic and optimistic.

This statement powerfully relates to the concept called ‘The Law of Averages’. The Law of Averages states that the likelihood of certain events increases if the frequency is increased. Therefore if you increase the amount of time (frequency) you spend with people that has characteristics that you desire, you will eventually pick up that characteristics and become like those people. 

A study published in Psychological Science by psychological scientists Catherine Shea, GrĂ¡inne Fitzsimons, and Erin Davisson of Duke University, supports the claim that the kind of friends you have, has a very big impact on your long-term goals. They state that people with low self-control could relieve a lot of their self-control struggles by being with individuals who are known to have high self-control. This is due to the fact that the person with low self-control will be inspired by a friend with high self-control and pick up on their self-control cues to adapt their own behaviour.

It is therefore very important to surround yourself with the kind of people you admire and who inspires you. This doesn’t mean you must stop being friends with someone if they aren’t perfect. It simply means that you need to be mindful about who you spend most of your time with, and in what way they contribute to your life. If you are strong enough you can become the person to inspire and help others.


2. Why you need to avoid friendships that only bring you down.

It is clear that our friends form a great part of who we are, but this is also true for our siblings, parents and family. We will become more like the people we spend most of our time with, therefore we might need to spend less time with people that has bad influence on our self-esteem, academic performance, motivation and self-control.

We want to remind you that everyone has off-days or circumstances that makes them sad and negative. Before you simply cut people out of your life because they seem negative, evaluate the relationship carefully and have compassion with other person’s circumstances. For example, if you have a friend that has been very negative lately, evaluate the situation by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is this friend always negative, or is there something specific that is upsetting him/her? E.g. maybe there’s a crisis at home, or an upcoming test that might cause stress.
  • Is this negativity something that will pass eventually? E.g. maybe a pet has passed away and your friend is still mourning this loss, but eventually the pain and sadness will heal and pass.
  • Do you suspect there is something that is bothering your friend that he/she doesn’t want to share with you right now? E.g. your friend might indicate symptoms of depression or you might pick up on something that is wrong. This could mean that he/she is ashamed of the situation they are currently in and don’t want to be a burden.
  • Is there something you can do to help? E.g. maybe your friend has failed a test and has become very negative about it, you could help by sharing your notes or explain certain homework.
When you have evaluated your friend’s negativity and you come to the conclusion that the negativity is due to a specific event or circumstance that has caused him/her stress and sadness, that it would eventually pass and that you can help out, then you can conclude that this person is usually positive and uplifting. There is no reason to end this friendship and you should rather invest more time into this friendship to provide support and help your friend. However, if you conclude that this friend’s negativity isn’t connected to circumstances or events, that he/she is negative most of the time for no reason and that he/she doesn’t want help, then it might simply be a bad habit of being pessimistic and you should consider spending less time with him/her. This doesn’t mean you should end a friendship in a nasty way, it simply means in order to protect yourself from becoming negative, you should consider spending less time with him/her.

The following traits should be red flags that you might need to end a friendships:

  • Friendships that go against your core values, for example honesty. If you have friends that lies and cheats then you shouldn’t feel bad to end such a friendship.
  • Friends that get you in trouble countless times. It is very difficult to concentrate on schoolwork and perform your bet when you waste time being in trouble with teachers all the time. It could also damage the relationship with a teacher and could also put strain on the relationship with your parents if the principle needs to contact them to inform them about your bad behaviour.
  • Friends that are self-centred or narcissistic. This means these friends won’t put in the same effort into the friendship that you would. They will also not support you in your personal goals as they only care about themselves.
  • Friends that blame you for their own shortcomings or unfortunate circumstances. Friends that put the blame on you if they don’t succeed or get you into trouble isn’t true and worthy friends.
  • Pretentious friendships, where they talk badly about you behind your back is another red flag that you might need to end the friendship.
  • Jealous friends are toxic to your mental health. You should try to stay clear of friends that are jealous of you. To understand jealousy and how to deal with jealous friends, read our blog ‘Understanding and overcoming jealousy from peers’.
  • Friends that bring you down the whole time. Friends that insult you, pick on your flaws or bring up your weaknesses aren’t friends worth keeping.
Identify the friendships in your life that makes you feel bad about yourself, that isn’t good for your mental health and friends who doesn’t support your goals. When you have done so, determine how you will deal with these friends in the future. Decide whether you need to spend less time with them or even to end the friendship completely. Decide if you really want to keep these bad friends as acquaintances or not. You can simply spend less time with certain friends, since people grow out of friendships eventually. Either if toxic friendships are damaging your self-esteem you might need to end it by talking to them directly and explaining yourself to them. 


3. How to surround yourself with uplifting friends.

Jack Canfield said, “Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing, and uplifting people – people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams, and applaud your victories.” Canfield describes the kind of friends we all want. The kind of friends that help you grow, believes in your dreams and lifts you up. The question is however, how do we find friends like these? Not all of the qualities you look for in a friendship will be available in a single person. You might need to find a few different friends, in different groups and with different interests. Surround yourself with the following kind of people and make friends with them:

Surround yourself with people that inspires you.

People that inspire you possess qualities or attributes you wish you had. When you look at their lives you become inspired to be like them too. This is a person who is either older or more successful than you, someone you can learn from.

If you want to become more intelligent and be do better in your academics, make friends with the smart kids, ask them questions, study with them and compliment their intellect. Most smart people don’t mind sharing their knowledge and you might just start enjoying difficult subjects. This way of choosing your friends can be applied to any activity that you wish you were better in – sports, music, art, business, etc.

Surround yourself with the people that challenge you.

Friends that challenge you are big motivators to become more successful and to reach your goals. This is why most bodybuilders like having a gym partner. A good gym partner will tell you to do one more rep, run faster, jump higher. A good gym partner will encourage you to do your best and challenge your limits. Find friends that are like a good gym partners, friends that push you to do better in tests, challenge you to do better in sport, place the right amount of pressure on you so that you give your best in every aspect of your life. Find friends who love to see you win.

Surround yourself with the people that lift you up.

People that lift you up makes you feel good most of the time. This could either be by making you laugh, comforting you when you feel sad, or helping you solve your problems. Find people that make you feel good about yourself and make you feel secure in the friendship. These friends might not always be the smartest or the most successful, but the kind of friends where you feel happy and optimistic about life.

Be the kind of friend that inspires, challenge and lifts others up.

We want to encourage you to find friends that inspires, challenge and lifts you up. However, you must in return also be the kind of friend that will inspire, challenge and lift your friends up. Make the effort to help your friends out, inspire them to reach their goals and challenge them to be better. If you want good friends, you also need to be a good friend. If you want your friends to inspire you, you also need to inspire them. If you want friends that lift you up, you also need to lift them up. This is how you build meaningful friendships, by becoming the kind of friend that you want. After all, similar kinds attract each other.


We hope you are inspired by this blog to be a good friend and to also find friends that are good for you. Remember to share this article with your friends and help them to become better friends too.


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Monday, 3 September 2018

6 Reasons why you shouldn’t give up on your education now.


Sometimes we have to be nerdy to get good results… It is important to work hard and want to succeed. Nothing is more uncool than repeating a year or dropping out.





During the third term in a school year, there is a tendency to become a little more relaxed and forgetful of academic goals. You might become more side-tracked with the warmer weather and fun activities that lie ahead in Spring. There are pool parties and school dances and even a short school holiday to look forward to. The truth remains, tests and homework are piling up and now is the time to prepare efficiency for the end of the year examinations. Now is the time to dedicate yourself to the goals you set in the beginning of the year. Now is not the time to give up on your education.

Giving up at such a crucial time in the school year will only bring you disappointment. Giving up means you cease to make an effort and even to admit defeat. To give up physically on your education means to stop completing your homework, not handing in assignments or you become too lazy to summarise each day’s work. Giving up mentally is far worse, because this means you have already decided that you will fail at achieving your academic goals. Giving up mentally means you stop trying because you have lost all hope to succeed.

Jesse Jackson once said: “If you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds.” We want to inspire you today not to give up on your education and to continue to give your best.

That’s why we want to share with you the top reasons why you shouldn’t give up. These reasons are best described by asking the following 6 questions: 

1. Why did you have this goal in the first place?2. Will you regret not succeeding?3. What would you miss out on if you don’t achieve your goals?4. Will failing really make you happy?5. Why don’t you prove your critics wrong?6. What kind of person will I become if I don’t study?



1. Why did you have this goal in the first place?

The first question to ask yourself when you feel like giving up on your academic journey is: “Why did you have this goal in the first place?” The answer will vary for each individual because we are all unique and have our own motives. It could range from impressing your peers or pleasing your parents, fear from failing or enjoying the recognition of success. It always comes down to the fact that we as humans want to keep developing. Even when it is difficult or uncomfortable, people in general want to improve themselves.

Therefore, we can conclude that you set an academic goal so that you can improve yourself. This goal might be very new to you or something you want to achieve again. Whatever the case, you want to expand your life experience, make your mind grow and become a better version of yourself when you achieve this goal. When you know the reason why you want to achieve your goal, it feels less like work and more like a mission. Make the reason why you pursue your academic ambitions passionate and exciting, this will help you stay focused on the end results.


2. Will you regret not succeeding?

There’s a powerful quote by Jim Rohn that says: “There are two types of pain you will go through in life, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tonnes.”


Jim Rohn’s words are very true when it comes to education. When you discipline yourself to study when you have to, you might feel temporary discomfort. However, the discomfort of discipline is far less than the discomfort of the regret you feel when you fail a test or have to repeat the year. The reward of being disciplined also outweighs the short term comfort of laziness and procrastination. Therefore you must study when you have set out the time to study and ask yourself the tough question “Will I regret not succeeding?”


If you need help on how to set up a schedule, read our blog ‘Four tips to help you setup a schedule for a successful school year’ and to learn how to balance schoolwork and extra mural activities through time management, read our blog ‘Finding balance between schoolwork and extra mural activities’.



3. What would you miss out on if you don’t achieve your goals?

Depending on your academic goals, there could be various wonderful experiences that you could miss out on if you don’t achieve them. Consider the following examples:

  • You might have an agreement with your parents that you can only participate in your favourite sport if you pass all you subjects.
  • If you want to study a very difficult degree that requires many distinctions, like medicine or engineering, your goals might include improving your mathematics marks.
  • Maybe you have been slacking a bit and didn’t do as well in the previous tests as you wanted to. Even though you didn’t perform as well in the past, you still want to finish the academic year strong and you might set a new goal to improve your final marks.
  • Your goal could also be a lot more personal. For example, simply proving to yourself that you can go from 40% to 50% in a subject. Your dedication will give you hope.


There are plenty of other examples why you would want to achieve your goals. Though you might be overwhelmed with fear that it is too late to improve your chances of achieving your goals, rest assured, it is never too late. Don’t miss out on your educational goals because of fear, laziness or procrastination. If you want to play in a sport team but need to improve your marks on your report card, then let that inspire you to sit down and study. If you want to be a doctor, then study as hard as you can so that you don’t miss out on the opportunity to save lives. If you want to be in the Top 10 academic performers in your grade, then discipline yourself to make summaries every day and work through practice exam papers. If you want to change your life and become the first person in your family to go to university, then you need to work harder than you have ever worked before. Ask yourself: “What would I miss out on if I don’t achieve my goals?” and then decide which changes you need make to your daily routine so that your goals will be met.


4. Will failing really make you happy?

This is obviously a very easy question to answer, because failing will never make you happy. However, for a very short period procrastinating might make you happy, or rather, playing games than studying might feel good, but by not studying and procrastinating you could walk down the road of failure.

So instead of watching another episode of your favourite show, or scrolling through your social media for the 10th time, or even just wasting time when you need to study, ask yourself: “Will I be happy if I fail? Will I really be the happiest version of myself if I don’t achieve my goal? Or would passing and succeeding make me happier in the long run?”


5. Why don’t you prove your critics wrong?

You should never live your life to please others, or conform to standards that your peers or society place on you. However, there is nothing as satisfying as reaching your goals when other people didn’t think you could. People who have doubted you, or said to other’s behind your back that you can’t achieve your dreams, will be shocked and even disappointed when you actually achieve what they believed you can’t do.

The truth is, people who doubt your abilities or say that you dream too big, will either be right or wrong. They will either be able to say “I told you it couldn’t be done” or they’ll have to admit that you succeeded when they didn’t believe in you. What would you rather want to do? We say – go prove the people who doubted you wrong – very wrong! The choice is yours.


6. What kind of person will I become if I don’t study?

This last question will require that you delve deep into your heart’s desires and envision yourself 5 or 10 or even 20 years from now. What kind of person will you be if you don’t study and work hard towards your academic goals? Picture yourself as the ideal version of you, with a university degree and a blossoming career. See yourself in your mind’s eye as the person you want to become. Understand that it is possible to be that person, but that it requires that you work towards that bright future. If you are willing to give your best effort for your education, you will be so proud of your future self.


We want to encourage you to ask yourself these difficult questions and to work hard on your academics. Have faith that you are capable of achieving greatness and success if you don’t give up now. The key is to start today.

Let us know how you motivate yourself when you need inspiration for your education.

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