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Friday, 20 September 2013 00:00

Awareness Skills For This Dad's Peace-Of-Mind

car in traffic-185x329

We people-responsible-for-positively-molding-children spend a vast amount of the interaction time trying to teach our kids awareness skills. Teachers, coaches, parents and martial arts instructors (my slants), we all want them engaged to learn things and “be aware” of when to use them.

Parents, you know, like when to pick the dirty clothes off the bedroom floor, put them in the hamper. Answer, of course, “All the time. Without me having to remind!” And a few pass-by-in-a-flash years later, how to judge when to turn onto the busy street during peak traffic.

Daughter turning 15 and getting permit drove this home (hehe.) Potentially life-threatening (and I claim life-shortening) scenarios can be effective motivators for focusing on awareness skills.

If approached properly. But there is a better, more effective way.

Successfully teaching situational awareness techniques requires fun, positive step-by-step instruction and feedback. The lessons are best learned in a safe, relaxed environment. It starts as simply remembering what you’re doing. “I’m driving this lame mini-van in a parking lot. I hope my friends don’t see this.” As skills build, confidence increases. As confidence increases, skills continue to build.

The past year has been filled with discussions about what we see on the road around us, what we hear. Awareness of speed and distance. How Daughter feels when a horn is blown or when a wrong decision is made (has she gotten “the finger” yet? I don’t know.) And before I knew it, Daughter’s journey from nervous parking lot driver with parent, to confidently aware soloist was mostly complete.

Beginning instruction, positive modeling, accurate feedback, fun environment. Do we not all learn anything most effectively through this scenario? Age doesn’t matter. Situation really doesn’t matter, either. It works at home, with school, in sports, at work.

My martial arts students learn personal safety with situational awareness skills through the five senses (just as I did with Daughter.) We practice techniques to be more aware, and talk about how to use the information. Because we’re safe and relaxed, no matter the age, the lessons work.

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