Safety Screens (5:38)
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Welcome to the People Safety Podcast from Kidpower, teaching advocacy, boundary setting, and other personal safety skills for building happier lives and stronger relationships! I’m Erika Leonard with another Kidpower People Safety Tip.
It’s a sunny day here at the start of spring, and I’m opening up all my windows so that the fresh, cool breeze can blow the winter air from my house. It’s been tightly shut for a long time.
Flowers are starting to bloom outside, and looking out into the garden, I can see bees buzzing around from flower to flower. They’re doing important work, and I’m glad they’re here, just right outside my window. At the same time, though, I’m glad for the screens on my windows, because they keep the bees and all the other bugs outside where they belong!
Of course, I could just keep my windows closed – glass does a good job of keeping the bugs out, too. But glass is a barrier, it’s like a wall, and the air can’t flow through it. My house will get too hot and stuffy if I always have the windows closed, and I would get pretty uncomfortable and pretty unhappy. A screen, though, it’s a filter: screens let the fresh air in, but they keep the bugs out.
We can imagine screens inside of ourselves, too, wrapped around our souls or our sprits or our minds – whatever you think of as your SELF. Just like screens work to help us enjoy the fresh air spring and summer days without having to worry about the bugs getting inside, our internal screens work to help us enjoy being with other people. They help us let in all the good things about being together – like the fun stories or games, compliments people share, or jokes people enjoy together. At the same time, our screens work to keep out words that might be hurtful so that we can keep our hearts and our feelings safe and take charge in a way that makes things better, not worse.
This is important, because even really good friends and people who love each other a lot sometimes say things that feel hurtful. Most of us have probably even made that mistake ourselves, sometimes by accident and sometimes because we were upset, and we said something hurtful on purpose.
That would be a mistake, and mistakes are part of learning. Nobody’s perfect, and all of us – no matter how old we are – have the power to keep learning more about using our own words in ways that make things better, not worse. If you make a mistake by saying something hurtful, you can work to make things better by apologizing and by learning how to make different choices in the future. That’s one way a mistake can actually lead people to make a relationship stronger.
Those internal screens that 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 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.
People using their internal safety screens can keep their feelings from being hurt and also think clearly so that they can take charge in the moment, maybe by stopping themselves from saying mean words back, or maybe by creating space for a while so that they can talk about the problem later when they are both feeling calm.
Of course, screens aren’t perfect, so it’s important to know how to get help when we need it. Some bees and flies got through one of my screens at my house. It had some holes in it, so I got help, and I got the screen fixed. When something gets past our internal Safety Screens, we can get help, and talking about this kind of problem in terms of screens and bugs can help us be more clear sometimes when we explain it to other people.
One boy went to his mom after a good friend had said some mean things to him. And, using the idea of his Safety Screen and the idea of mean words being like bugs, he told her what had happened, and he added, “Sometimes, the bugs get through, and if they’re just flies or ants, I feel fine. I know how to deal with that problem. But Mom,” he added, “sometimes the bugs are wasps, and they sting, and then I need your help.”
Because he was able to give his Mom a good idea of the problem and how it felt for him, she was in a much better position to help him figure out the best next steps for building the strongest possible relationship with his friend. By keeping our screens in place and getting help when we need it, we can all be safer while making progress, just like he did, in making communication in our own relationships that much stronger.
Visit kidpower.org for more People Safety tips, and remember, in everything you do, stay safe, act wisely, and of course, believe in yourself!