If your life brings you in contact with other people, then you deserve People Safety skills for getting the most out of every interaction you have. It’s true that People Safety skills are powerful tools for preventing, avoiding, de-escalating, and escaping from situations that have the potential to be truly dangerous, but they also happen to be the most powerful relationship-building skills you and those you love could have.
There was a girl – let’s call her Sara — who had a safety problem. During lunchtime at her school, some other kids were saying things that felt hurtful. They were using what her teachers and her parents called “bad words.” Different things make it hard for kids to tell adults about problems, but one reason kids don’t tell about hurtful words is that they just don’t know HOW to start the conversation.
Adults want kids to learn to deal with problems. That’s why they sometimes say things like, “I want you to solve it yourself,” or “Figure it out on your own.” And if you spilled a bunch of pencils, you do need to solve it yourself. But if the problem you’re dealing with is one you have no idea how to solve, or if you don’t know how to do the work safely, or if you can tell that what you are trying is not effective because the problem is getting bigger instead of better, then you need help. Persisting until you get adult help is important.
Find out how internal “screens” can protect our feelings, our hearts and minds, from hurtful words can also help us stay focused on making choices that build stronger relationships. Kids, teens, and adults who imagine these “safety screens” can still notice the mean words that people say, but they can be aware of those words without letting the words inside where they could hurt and also where they can get stuck. The awareness of the problem is one kind of fresh air that helps people stay centered and think about how to solve the problem. The mean words themselves, they’re like the bugs – they stay outside.
Understanding the difference between tattling and telling is a big part of being safe, because telling to get help with problems is important, but tattling is hurtful, and it makes problems bigger.