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mrkstvns

How the Inuit work with kids...

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I was listening to NPR last night, and they had an interesting conversation that I thought could be useful for dialing down the volume on confrontation, yet still getting across important points (particularly regarding safety).

The program talked about how calm and controlled an Inuit discussion (or confrontation) would be. The Inuit are more stoic than we are. They don't yell.  Instead, they prefer to get their point across using the power of story.

I wonder how many times I might get mad at a boy and, instead of berating him for his carelessness, I might be able to sit down with him and tell a story that highlights to him why he might rather be more courteous, or more safety minded.  I wonder if storytelling could work with teenagers in my community...

Here's the backstory:  https://www.npr.org/2019/03/04/689925669/storytelling-instead-of-scolding-inuit-say-it-makes-their-children-more-cool-hea 

 

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I heard the same program but I was left with the impression that instead of yelling, they think we should be lying to our kids. Don't go in the ocean because a monster will get you? Don't go outside because the northern lights will rip your head off?

Such storytelling might work for very young kids (e.g. the ages where Easter Bunny and Santa still exist) but I'd rather not create a myth in order to get a kid/scout to obey. When they learn the truth, then we don't look trustworthy (and we clearly did not trust them enough to be honest to them).

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Posted (edited)

Kind of strange, yelling? I believe that yelling shows weakness in the skills of communication, excepting for communicating at distances. Yelling is a red flag telling me that the scout is lacking a communication skill to otherwise express himself calmly.

Storytelling in my opinion is an art. Some can do it, many can't. It takes practice and experiences for reference. Young scouts don't have a lot of experiences to reference.

What I think people today lack the most in communication is "patience". Sometimes silence is the best form of communication. My adult kids tell me now that they knew they were in trouble when I was quiet.

One technique I teach young leaders is that when the other person refuses to listen, separate yourself. That is a very good technique for adult leaders. In many cases, that means asking the other person to leave the room or area until they can calmly discuss the matter. Some PLs even went as far as to ask the scout to visit the SM. I often found a scout quietly following me around without telling me what was going. LOL. 

Or ask for help from another person nearby. Sometimes the respect for authority from peers comes from a number of peers asking for the same response. Often during assembly, I would see the PL of one patrol walkover to quietly help another  PL dealing with a difficult scout. The speaker on the floor was not disturbed because it was handle quietly using non confrontational communication. 

Yelling? I discouraged it at all levels.  

EXCEPT FORUMS :laugh:

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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58 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

I heard the same program but I was left with the impression that instead of yelling, they think we should be lying to our kids. Don't go in the ocean because a monster will get you? Don't go outside because the northern lights will rip your head off?

I think most of us know there's a difference between storytelling and lying.  If there weren't, the entire field of literature would be impoverished and every movie goer would leave the theatre vastly reassured that there is a man among us who will protect us from evil --- a man from the planet Krypton, with powers and abilities far beyond us mortal men.

On the other hand, I appreciate the perspective of the NPR program:  a good story can engage kids, help them feel, and let them carry a lesson forward that's memorable and relevant.

Kind of like the way us church goers might have heard tell of a guy named Noah who had God's blessing, even as all the liars and cheaters got drowned in an inundation of 40 days and 40 nights. Was that a story we remember and that helps guide us throughout life?  Or was it just a bald-faced lie to manipulate us when we're very young?

You might feel good yourself for telling a kid about the peril of drowning if he goes in the sea, but he might actually stay out of the sea as a kid when he's told a memorable story of a sea monster --- a story that he can then laugh at and remember fondly as he grows older and wise enough to more fully understand the real perils of the world around him.

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Posted (edited)

Interesting.

I use stories often. My son says I have a story for everything, as he rolls his eyes. But he admits they work........usually. 

Yelling? I guess it depends on how you define it. Berating anyone is a no go. But my son and others call my "coaching voice" yelling. He has pointed out it is the same volume and intensity if it is good (Great block!), bad (keep your head up or you will break your neck!) or indifferent (Water break!). I don't use it constantly so he says it gets your attention even if you are a 100 yards away. I don't use it much in Scouting except when there is distance between us, like setting up an orienteering course or working a service project where we are spread out. If that is yelling, then I am guilty.

I prefer to ask questions when I am trying to make a teaching point. It takes longer, but it tends to sink in better when a youth gets to the correct conclusion on his own. Questioning just serves as a guide to get them there. It can also be a learning point for me, particularly when those questions expose a different perspective based on generation or culture. 

Edited by HelpfulTracks

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Yelling is fine, as long as you do it where nobody else can hear you. Think about it. In your eyes someone screwed up and now you're angry. The anger is real, denying that is just hiding it. Best to let it go. Getting mad is a good way to dissipate that anger before you can talk calmly. That you can do around anyone.

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8 hours ago, MattR said:

Yelling is fine, as long as you do it where nobody else can hear you. 

You know MattR, there is a SM Minute there somewhere.

8 hours ago, MattR said:

Think about it. In your eyes someone screwed up and now you're angry. The anger is real, denying that is just hiding it. Best to let it go. Getting mad is a good way to dissipate that anger before you can talk calmly. That you can do around anyone.

I think you are right. Anger is a great positive motivator when done correctly.

Over the years of parenting, coaching, scout leading and so on, I replaced showing anger as a motivator with showing disappointment. I don't think developing the technique was purposeful, but I was deeply conscious of the limits for disciplining other parents sons. I didn't want to correct their bad choices, I wanted them to correct themselves. I was searching for a style that accomplished the same positive motivation of anger, without showing anger. Changing that style wasn't an intentional or overnight,  bad choices on my part and the humility that followed  was part of the long process. But, I realized the power of disappointment as a motivator when a few scouts, who made some wrong choices, were standing near me waiting for my reaction. A scout later told me during a SM Conference that the more I talked in those situations, the less gilt they felt. I guess in my style, less is more.

I don't discount the respect the scouts were giving me in wanting my approval.  Looking back at it, I love this scouting stuff.

We all have our style, but I see my style in my adult kids now. Good or bad, role modeling is very powerful.

Barry

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I am now imagining a SM minute being yelled at a bunch of scouts. 

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1 hour ago, Buggie said:

I am now imagining a SM minute being yelled at a bunch of scouts. 

...and I'm imagining a "kinder, gentler" U.S. Marine Corps drill sergeant, telling a motivational story to a barracks full of privates who may not see the wisdom of rolling out of their bunks at 5am to do a 5-mile jog in the rain with full backpacks.

  • Haha 1

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1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

...and I'm imagining a "kinder, gentler" U.S. Marine Corps drill sergeant, telling a motivational story to a barracks full of privates who may not see the wisdom of rolling out of their bunks at 5am to do a 5-mile jog in the rain with full backpacks.

This immediately came to mind. 

 

  • Haha 1

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42 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Over the years of parenting, coaching, scout leading and so on, I replaced showing anger as a motivator with showing disappointment.

My approach has evolved as well. I don't know that I've ever shouted at scouts other than when they were in a safety situation, so my comment was more about getting angry with the scouts. There were certainly those scouts that got under my skin and it was usually because they were extremely self centered. A few of them grew up and all was forgiven. I had a few apologize. I've never gotten angry at scouts that at least tried (well, there were a couple of safety situations, like almost burning down a historical building). I slowly came to realize that the anger comes from the conflict between my expectations and reality. My expectations have tempered. The anger can still show up but now it's a big red flag that tells me to stand back and think about it. For the most part, the only time I get angry now has to do with communicating with scouts outside of meetings (well, not being able to communicate outside of meetings). The good news is I have plenty of time to get over it. At meetings or campouts pretty much anything can happen and I've likely seen something similar before. Sometimes I show disappointment. Usually it's roses and thorns. The roses are "wow, that's great, how did it go for you?" and the thorns are just matter of fact - "this is what I saw, what did you see?" and then the important part "why?" Last night the why resulted in the scout telling me his secret email address that he checks at least daily, as opposed to the one that the troop has that is never looked at. I suspect this has something to do with mom reading all his email. I'll just call for now on.

Back to the expectations vs reality. The major source of my grief was wrapped up in advancement. For all the reasons we've beaten to death I used to fight against them all. Now, advancement is as important to me as the uniform. I like it. When it's done right it's great, but it's hard to do right so I'll just do my best and ignore the rest. To me, watching a scout take ownership or responsibility is a much more worthwhile endeavor. Many scouts will do this. Nearly every scout that sticks around till they're 18 will get there.

As for the OP, umm, I just told a story? Actually, stories are a very time proven method for teaching subjective matter. The Bible, the arts, history, case studies in law. Unlike science and math, where there are definitive, provable rules, much of life's lessons are subjective and examples are a better way to get across an idea than making a generic statement of supposed fact.

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4 hours ago, Buggie said:

I am now imagining a SM minute being yelled at a bunch of scouts. 

My name is Scoutmaster Matt Foley and I live in a van down by the river!

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That's what's wrong with today's pop music.  No stories...

Pray for John Prine:   

 

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