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Getting along!

In his wise book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, business management expert Steven Covey shows how developing habits based on values of fairness, honesty, respect, self-care, and boundaries can help us make the most of our work and personal lives.

Here is how to apply Covey’s 7 habits to be effective in having fun, staying safe, staying healthy, and being successful in accomplishing our goals during the holiday season – and beyond.

1. Be proactive. Ask yourself, “What can I do to take charge of the safety and well being of myself and those in my care?” Take responsibility for what you can do and don’t waste energy on concerns or people that you can’t do anything about. Remember that you can choose what you will do or not do – you cannot always choose what others will do or how they will feel.

If someone is acting in ways that are harmful to you or your children, you can use Kidpower skills to take charge by staying aware, noticing potential problems, protecting your feelings, speaking up powerfully and respectfully, avoiding trouble, leaving calmly and politely if something is really not working, and getting help – and by teaching those in your care to do the same.

2. Begin with the end in mind. Ask yourself, “What kind of person do I want to be? What values are most important to me? Does the purpose of this activity fit with my values? Am I setting a good example for children or other important people in my life?” Apply the answers to make decisions about everything you choose to say or do.

A core Kidpower value is to “Put safety FIRST!” This means that we must not let uncomfortable feelings or inconvenience get in the way of protecting our kids or ourselves from harm.

3. Put first things first. Before saying “yes” to anything, even if you’ve always done it, ask yourself, “Is doing this the best use of my or my children’s time and energy? Does doing this improve relationships or harm them? Is there a simpler way we can do this and still meet our goals?” Remember that our time is limited and precious.Trying to do everything can cause harmful stress that often leads to problems.

Sometimes we have to say “No” even if we disappoint others or feel disappointed ourselves. When people are disappointed, they often get upset, so we need to be prepared to stay calm and respectful even if they are rude and angry – and to persist in setting our boundaries.

4. Think win-win. In relationships with people who are important to you, ask yourself and them, “How can we make our time together work well for everyone? What does each of us truly need? How can we find creative ways to meet the most important of those needs?” Remember that “needs” are different than “wants.” Avoid “win/lose” “either/or” thinking. Figure out your common ground and try to find a “win” for each person involved.

When agreement is not possible, sometimes the best solution is to “agree to disagree” about political differences or other issues. Agreeing to disagree doesn’t mean hiding your differences. It means not wasting time by having heated arguments that often lead to upset feelings. Remember that you cannot control what others choose to belief or think and that people will learn more from what you show them than what you tell them. Focus on your common ground win-win goals such as enjoying being together.

5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Effective communication helps to prevent problems and to grow and deepen relationships. Filtering what others say and speaking through the lens of our own points of view and experiences reduces understanding, which diminishes effective communication in ways that can harm relationships. Making the effort to understand requires patience and self control, especially when someone speaks in a way that is confusing or seems disrespectful.

Ask yourself, “Am I so eager to be understood that I jump in with my own thoughts without fully listening to the thoughts of others? Do I get impatient or insulted when others are speaking in a way that clouds my ability to understand them? Do I make negative judgements about their intentions or choose to make compassionate objective observations based on their behavior? Do I listen selectively or accurately? Do I focus on the words they are saying or try to understand the meaning of what they are wanting to communicate and the reality of their underlying needs?”

6. Synergize. “Synergize” means that when we make the space and effort to learn from each other, we can combine our energy, skills, and creativity to be far more successful in accomplishing our goals.

Often the quietest voices have the most valuable things to contribute if we create room for them to speak. Ask each person, “What do you think? What works well for you? What doesn’t? How can we make things better?” Wait for and treat each person’s answers with appreciation, even if you disagree or feel criticized. Treating ideas with value doesn’t mean we have to use these ideas – it means that we care about the person sharing them.

Ask yourself, “Am I jumping in so quickly that others don’t get a chance to participate in decision-making? Or, am I sitting back and letting others lead because I am afraid that my ideas won’t be valued? Am I treating different points of view with respect? Am I treating different kinds of people with respect?”

7.Sharpen the saw. “Sharpening the saw” means taking good care of ourselves because a dull saw has a hard time cutting wood, which is its purpose. Remember that being “too busy” can undermine our health and enjoyment of life if we don’t make sure to eat well, sleep well, get enough exercise, engage in positive relationships, reduce negative stress, and keep learning and growing.

Ask yourself, “Am I enjoying what I am doing – or feeling miserable? Am I feeling cheerfully productive – or frantic? Am I open to trying out new ideas and learning new things – or stuck in old habits and beliefs that limit my ability to be happy and to live according to my values?” Remember that the children in your life will learn more from what they see you doing than from anything you are saying.

Kidpower strategies and skills help to prevent and solve problems with people. And problems with people often get in the way of joy and safety during holidays as well as our everyday lives. Here are some free resources that thousands of people of many different cultures, beliefs, and identities from around the world have found to be useful:


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Published: December 14, 2017   |   Last Updated: December 14, 2017

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.