As a single father of three young sons, Adam, Chase and Kyle, I always tried to foster kindness. When one of my sons would be bullied I would call those parents and invite that boy for a sleep over. By Monday, they were BFFs. Problem solved. It’s about separating the pack leader from the herd.
I also encouraged my boys to “Think Beyond the Act” and reinforced this message whenever they would get into trouble; making it a teachable moment. I had a Leave to Beaver mind-set. I would sit them down and discuss why they did what they did. Having a conversation with them and showing them where they went wrong was more educational and informative than punitive.
Helping them evaluate the consequences before they acted, wasn’t always achievable.
My middle child once said to me, 4th grade I believe, “Dad, I thought about what might happen to me but I decided to risk it anyway.” Hey, you have to know I held back the urge to laugh out loud. But at least he was thinking on his own and taking his medicine too. Owning it.
Linking a consequence (or many consequences) to an impulsive act was the message of the day I always conveyed. I attempted to get my boys to think what might happen. The worst possible scenario. Most of us do (or did) things never expecting to get caught. I assured them, they would always be caught. (We live in a small Southern Oregon town and the eyes are upon them.)
Once, I had this same son draw up a Consequences Chart. It was outstanding. revealing that his one lone act of poor decision making, created many consequences. Eventually I think 15 consequences as a result of one minor incident as a high school freshman. His diagram was so good, the school used it to further educate students and has been used widely by other organizations.
As the world evolves into a more connected space, and now that my three sons are grown and out on their own with their own children, I began writing my children’s books, as bedtime stories. I want to continue doing my part to help kids feel warm and cozy and safe at bedtime.
One mom shared how their daughter, Isabella, 4, who used to sleep in her and her husband’s bed every night, now sleeps in her own bed after reading her Stevie Tenderheart bedtime storybooks. Isabella says she’s a big girl now. Stevie is changing lives, one page at a time.
I think SMOG is a beautiful thing. (Stevie’s Messages of Grace)
1. Try a Little Tenderness
2. A Change of Heart Changes Everything
3. Choose Integrity as Your True North & You Will Never Get Lost
By sending out positive messages to children at an early age, it is my hope we can instill a sense of self and confidence along with “integrity” within their hearts and souls. By integrity, I mean, doing the right thing even if no one is looking. I believe once we get children to own this core value, we will have turned the corner with our youth.
Steve Laible, MBA is a retired USAF Captain and Creator/Author of the Stevie Tenderheart Comic Strip and Stevie Tenderheart children’s series of bedtime stories. Check out Stevie Tenderheart’s website here: stevietenderheart.com