August 27, 2016

The benefit of sports on our young people

The curtains have dropped on yet another memorable Olympics and the sporting fever has seen many of us on the edge our seats, no matter what our preferred sport. The diversity of the range of sports included in this year’s spectacular games has offered a vast number of athletes from many countries an opportunity to represent their country and a shot at a place in the history books. Alongside those who continued to impress and deliver, break records, set new ones and defy expectations; are also those who may not have made a remarkable impression just yet. However, the fact that they made it to the Olympics is a dream come true; a feat thousands of athletes unfortunately never realise.

The dedication, hard work and determination required to reach such a pinnacle in a sporting career often passes unseen to the masses. When you consider how much effort it takes to make your school team then onto regional and international levels, before making it all the way to the top to compete against the best of the best and to stand shoulder to shoulder with the world’s greatest athletes, it can become clearer the kind of devoted individuals who get there.

Whether a young child begins with dreams of an Olympic medal, representing their country or making the school team, involvement in sports from an early age can have immense positive outcomes.

The effect of sports on children has many benefits, including character development, leadership skills, good sporting behaviour and achievement orientation. Whether a child participates at school level, outside school or higher, the reasons for participation range from having fun, improving skills, keeping fit, being part of a team and the challenge and excitement of competition. The environment in which a child experiences sport participation and the types of adults and peers involved will help determine continued participation and strength of commitment.

Involvement in both team and individual sport enhances self-esteem, builds friendships, and encourages interactions which develop pro-social behaviours. Also it, encourages loyalty, requires commitment, provides emotional support, and develops skills in conflict and resolution. Both can enrich feelings of inclusion in either a team or within a family.

If children continue and participate at a higher competitive standard, they require a certain level of discipline, determination, sportsmanship, and respect for peers in sport; more useful qualities for a healthier and more fulfilling childhood that they will carry with them later in life.

Unfortunately, between the ages of twelve and thirteen, research shows sports participation declines as young people tend to focus on other things. This can be a result of a number of factors including; lack of motivation, wanting to spend time elsewhere, perceived failures or conflicting relationships with sports providers. This is actually a crucial time in their lives and being encouraged (not forced) to continue, even if not competitively, can give them a valuable focus. Regrettably, it is often children with low perceptions of their abilities who would benefit greatly from the positive outcomes of sports that drop out.

Whilst at an age when children are most vulnerable in environments where there is very little on offer in the way of recreation, and fewer opportunities to become involved in something that has positive effects on both physical and mental wellbeing and development, sport can offer a real way forward. With the untold challenges facing our young people today, this is a lifeline that can be utilised to provide many different avenues to success.

While sports can be an invaluable tool for children who are not academically gifted, it is not a substitute for academic work, but can actually be used to support involvement in academic improvement by ways of encouraging engagement at school. By developing skills needed to increase academic performance, such as discipline, realising that hard work pays off and the ability to perform under pressure, sport participation can provide a building block of character qualities and the enhancement of self-esteem, allowing them to be applied to other areas of a child’s life.

Where possible, provide your child with the opportunity to experience a range of sports and support their involvement in any way you can. As a country we should continue to encourage youth involvement in sport and strive to widen the opportunities for further participation. The healthy mind and healthy body philosophy has great merit, couple this with the physical and mental skill development sport provides, and we are a step closer to offering our young people a better start in life.


Children should have a childhood

The recent concerns voiced about the attendance of young children at music concerts is an extremely worrying issue and one which asks questions of the laws in this country, the enforcement of those laws and perhaps more worryingly the mentality of some parents or guardians.
Firstly, taking a child to a concert with such sizable crowds and at such a late hour of the night should already be cause for concern. Without casting aspersions on the practices of individuals en masse, there was a certainty of people being under the influence of alcohol and a probability of illegal drug use which increases the potential for violence, putting physical wellbeing under a real and immediate threat; not a suitable place for a minor.
Secondly, the concert in question had already raised controversy over the perceived content, lyrics, and tone of the artiste. If there was already dispute about the show being appropriate for the wider audience, how on earth could an adult think it appropriate to take pre-teens and youngsters to such a show?
The answer lies in the unfortunate fact that so many of our young people are regularly neglected; listening to this adult content music without any restrictions or guidance from their elders. In fact, there is very little done to discourage this within homes.
Being complacent about what our young people are listening to is a dangerous practice when we consider the power music and lyrics have on a young impressionable, susceptible mind. Studies show that music has a huge impact on adolescents. They can become obsessive and entranced in music and it can impact on their emotional moods.
This can work in a positive manner depending on the choice of music, but if a child is repeatedly listening to lyrics with unfavourable content it can become part of their outlook and feel like part of their reality.
The glamorisation of these artistes and their superstar lifestyle can provide negative role models if the focus of their music is aggressive, criminal and abusive. If there is minimal guidance in other areas of the young person’s lives, this can become the most significant message they are receiving and being guided by.
If as adults, we fail to challenge the appropriateness we are in effect condoning it and in turn allowing a desensitisation of young people to these inappropriate messages.
How can we expect our children to have the childhood they deserve while being exposed at every turn to adult content, conversation and behaviour? There seems to be very little that is sacred these days. There should be little surprise then when we hear the conversations many of our youngsters are having or the crimes that are being committed, the way they view women and their behaviour towards them.
The behaviour of some young girls and the lack of respect they have for themselves, the low self-worth and acceptance of abusive behaviour is also part of the fallout of this premature loss of youth.
Child protection laws are put in place to regulate and protect but are in a constant state of revision and always in need of further application. They can never be maintained to the necessary standards if the parents themselves are overlooking the boundaries that should be set.
In fact the culture may be at a critical stage. Generations before who did not separate children from adult conversation and viewing were dealing with a much more obedient and demure generation and as the practice continues children are being exposed to additional influences; more television, the internet, more aggressive music.
A serious revision of the management of appropriate pastimes for young people is needed and the enforcement should be a priority, but as with most issues pertaining to the family and its members, the morality of the parents is what will pass down to the children and until the generation of parents are called upon to modify their attitudes to what constitutes child protection, change will not come and things will get progressively worse.
It is time child protection was the main focus in every household, every institution and every constitution, time each of us made it our responsibility and stopped allowing our young people to be left to be educated by mass media’s skewed view of a glamorous, immoral and sensational presentation of life.
Having polices and laws written into revised Acts is not enough, every effort needs to be made to actively implement and re-educate.

Forgiveness: Which is more important – what it means or what it does?

How hard do you find it to forgive? I am sure the answer will rely heavily upon the circumstances and the person who has wronged you or your loved ones. The difficulty to forgive those who hurt or damage us deeply can mean that we carry around a host of negative emotions that, in reality, only serve to continue to hurt us. The sad fact is that many people who have been mistreated are regularly hurt twice – once by the deed, and then again by living with vengeance and anger working away inside them for prolonged periods of time.
Carrying around these feelings can be of great detriment to a person. Not only can it cloud judgement, but it can also cast a shadow over so many other aspects of a person’s life that sometimes the spill over can have far reaching negative effects on those close to you.
If we consider that forgiveness allows a person to let go of the harmful feelings and thoughts they carry around, finding a way to forgive would seem to be the healthiest way to move forward. However, how do you find it in your heart or your head to forgive someone who has committed a terrible crime against you or your family? Without faith or religious beliefs, or even with them, it can be almost impossible to come to terms with forgiving in these circumstances.
For most of us, our understanding of forgiving someone is to intentionally and willingly let go of feelings of blame and hate towards a person and giving them a pardon for the things that they have done. It can be seen as saying that we are ok with what they did and that we want the best for the perpetrator despite their actions. In cases where the wrongs can be overcome between family and friends it may be possible to reach this point, but in cases of a more serious nature, this way of viewing forgiveness leaves many of us unable to offer it and unwilling to even try. It can make us feel even more infuriated at the mere thought of wishing someone well and offering something to one who has caused untold amounts of pain. Why do they deserve to receive anything positive?
The truth is forgiveness is not of any great benefit to the wrongdoer. The person to gain the most is the one who is able to release themselves of the burden, the dark feelings and wasted time and emotions. Yet no matter how much we can see the sense in letting go, in many cases it is easier said than done.
But what if we change our perception of what forgiveness is? What if we are able to let go in the same way forgiveness relieves you? Can you imagine if in our minds we are able to substitute the word forgiveness with nothingness? In the statements that might run through our heads if we could think in terms of feeling nothing for the person that hurt us and we can begin to think about the futility of hating someone who is very rarely affected by that hate, we can begin to step back from destructive feelings.
It is unlikely that those who commit terrible crimes choose to be the monsters that they are. If they could have been born with different mind-sets, feelings and thought processes it is doubtful they would have chosen an evil path. The bottom line is these people are ill and your hate will do little to alter that. Just as it will do little to alter what has happened.
Forgiveness does not have to mean you think someone should go unpunished for what they have done. It does not mean that you have to feel sympathy or empathy for that person. It doesn’t even mean you have to understand why they did what they did. It simply needs to mean you are able to let go. Take back control of your life by freeing yourself from continued torture holding on causes. Reach a place in which you can acknowledge the wrong that has been done, understand the person’s behaviour belongs to the type of human being we need to be thankful we are not, accept going back is not an option and know the only way forward is to cease feelings for the person. Work towards finding the strength to separate a preconceived idea of what forgiveness means, giving it a meaning that allows you to feel comfortable with your feelings and concentrate on using your energies and emotions for a more positive, healthier life.

Is honesty always the best policy?


Have you told a lie today? Most of us are always telling our children to be honest and not to tell lies and yet sometimes we can find ourselves not only failing to practice what we preach but also involving them in our deception.

Is it fair to tell them it is ok to lie sometimes? It will undoubtedly be a topic of conversation as they get older when they realise the lies we may have told them; whether about Father Christmas or a protective lie about a much more serious issue that we feel more than justified in telling.

How can we distinguish between what is an acceptable lie of what degree of lying can be vindicated? It is difficult to righteously argue that it is okay to lie under certain circumstances because who then sets the bar?

I think it is safe to say most of us lie even if only occasionally and even safer to say we have all lied at some point in our lives. Yet most of us also consider ourselves honest because we measure them as only small lies or ones we think don’t really count or matter. Why is that?

Generally we lie to obtain the benefit of protection in various areas of our lives. For ourselves internally, we may lie to avoid suffering painful consequences, shame, conflict and embarrassment.

Externally, we lie for attention and material gain. To keep others perceptions of us favourable and to maintain an image that is respectable. We may lie to hide when we act in less reputable ways; ensuring that we appear more courageous or virtuous than we actually are.

Our time and energy are precious to us and we can lie to avoid the spending of either in ways which we are not going to enjoy, so we will lie to avoid admitting to people how we would rather spend it. Possibly the most common, and one which we may find easy to justify, is lying to save the feelings of others. Simply offering an opinion that will make others feel better about themselves.

Whichever way we look at these reasons, there is gain for the person telling the lie and we should be aware of this when we sometimes fool ourselves we are only doing it for another person’s sake. We do not want to be the person who hurts another especially when we care about them, but the reality is that we also gain in that situation because we avoid doing so by lying.

But what if we lie to protect the physical wellbeing of a person? I cannot imagine many people condemning a lie that protects the safety of another person. What then is the difference between protecting someone emotionally and physically? We will all make those decisions on what is relevant to ourselves and significant others at any given time. Does that give us licence to lie in any situation we feel fit if we are clever enough to find a good enough reason?

When we lie to protect someone from a wrong we ourselves have done them we run a great risk; if a loved one discovers you are lying (which is a very likely outcome) it could turn out a thousand times worse. “I’m sorry” can carry sentiment to an injured party but in some situations it cannot heal rifts or set things back to how they were before the deception. If someone finds out that you have lied to them, they may never be able to fully trust you again.

Is it really worth telling an unnecessary lie to save face and risk being found out and unmasked as a liar? I suppose it depends on how you want to be viewed and how comfortable you are living as it would damage reputation and also affect the trust people will place in us. A small lie can often escalate and become out of control, causing so much more damage than the truth would have in the first place.

Before you tell another lie stop and think who is really benefitting and in the long term is it for the best. Consider how everyone involved will feel when the truth emerges and ask yourself why you feel it necessary to lie.

I am not condemning lying, it is not my place to judge anyone, only asking that you take a good look at the practice many fall into a habit of doing for little reason and that you are at least honest with yourself about the reason.


Expectations: are we setting ourselves up for failure?

Why do we expect what we expect to happen? We all learn to expect certain outcomes from certain situations based on previous experiences and either real or imagined outcomes. These learnt expectations could have come from what we ourselves have experienced, but can also be heavily based on what significant others have told, shown or insinuated to us. The information is then used to form predictions about what is going to happen if we do something and subsequently, we choose our actions based on that perceived knowledge.
This process of learning is the natural human way to learn and it has numerous benefits as it can guide us to make good and safe decisions in many circumstances and situations. The problem occurs when we make a very basic mistake; we confuse what we believe is likely to happen with believing something will definitely happen.
It is the subtle but vital difference between degrees of likelihood and certainty that can be the cause of potential problems because our response to unrealised expectations can affect us in various ways. We learn that because we have seen the same outcome over and over, it is very likely that if something is done again, the same outcome will result. When we stop and consider this, most of us can quite easily find instances where our expectations have not come to fruition, despite the certainty with which we have formed them.
Many times, this can be a learning experience and nothing more than a surprise. At others, expectations can have a more serious and detrimental effect on the psychological well-being of a person. In time, people may begin to believe they have a right to a certain outcome and when that does not happen, it can be difficult to cope with. A person can feel deep disappointment, shock and confusion when what they believed about reality is challenged. Failure can become magnified and instead of seeing it as an isolated failure, the person can begin to feel their life is a failure.
There are generally three ways that people deal with failed expectations;healthily by re-evaluating the situation and accepting that expectations need to be adjusted, unhealthily by blaming others and taking the attitude that life is so unfair and wonder “why me?”, or more detrimentally, by internally focusing the blame and exaggeratingthe failure leading to thoughts that future success is unattainable.
If you are the type of person who finds the first response difficult to adopt, then it may help to focus on getting specific and identifying what EXACTLY failed and why it is so upsetting. Often, it can be because of heavy expectations early on in life and so it is important to look at your core beliefs and where they come from before analysing whether they need to be readjusted. Much of the pressure we place on ourselves can be due to what we tell ourselves we should be doing, achieving, striving for, but these “shoulds” are often not really part of who we are or want to be and rather others’ views and beliefs that we have adopted over the years.
Sometimes we follow paths that have been imposed on us, either directly, or because of conditioning. We can choose to design our own path whenever we recognise which of our accepted beliefs are actually at odds with our true selves. That does not mean we should completely unpick our core values and principles, as many of them will be rooted in positive moral, ethical and cultural standards and will contribute greatly to who we are, but there will always be a time when a person will benefit from understanding what these things mean to them right now. A balance between what they have learnt and what parts fit with their feelings and views currently.
If we do not re-evaluate why we have the expectations we have, we are more than likely going to find ourselves unable to meet up to them. When we can establish a set of expectations based on our own real beliefs and values and can be prepared for a variation of outcomes, we are more than likely going to find a comfortable place with which we can live and function, learn and reflect, adapt and accept that life can be full of surprises and we are not necessarily always entitled to a specific outcome.  Think about your expectations, why you have them and if they feel right for you.

Teenage pregnancy

The subject of teenage pregnancy is a significant issue in Guyana and has been for a long time now, yet despite efforts being made to tackle the problem from both the government and non-government organisations, it remains among the highest rates in the Caribbean.
Coupled with the high numbers of those teenagers living in poverty, the situation presents serious concerns. Why does a young girl who can barely feed herself have a baby? More mind-baffling is why, after the first she often quickly goes on to have a second and even a third. This culture then becomes a cycle that can be seen repeating itself generation after generation.
The underlying issues leading to teenage pregnancy include gender equality, poverty, sexual violence, negative stereotyping and attitudes, poor education and limited opportunities; all of which many young girls in Guyana face daily.
Gender inequality, despite policy, remains a reality in many parts of the world and here in Guyana the culture of inequality is prevalent. The incidence of reported sexual violence is only the tip of the ice-burg and must make up a large percentage of the numbers of teenage pregnancy each year.
Of those young girls who choose to have children so early in life, poor education and the limited prospects they believe they have contributes to their choice. The issue therefore cannot be dealt with by tackling one area; a much broader approach is necessary.
Family planning should not just be highlighted as a key area for development but should be tackled in an innovative, nationwide drive. It is too large a problem for smaller organisations to tackle effectively.
The government and the family should be a major contributor to the education and guidance of young people in this area to provide a wide societal approach to sex education and make family planning available, accessible and understood.
Sex education in schools is possibly the most efficient medium to educate young girls (and boys) about the issues of teenage pregnancy and the dangers of unsafe sex. There is a need for sexual education to go beyond the practical information and provide the kind of social guidance that is necessary to positively impact on the questionable choices that are so evidently being made by young people in very challenging circumstances.
They should be encouraged to question the irresponsibility of bringing children into the world with no means of providing for them. Are young people being properly spoken to about the realities and responsibility of parenthood? If so why is there no apparent influence on the outcome?
While there are undoubtedly some teenage parents that are doing a wonderful job brining up their children; age does not reflect on their ability to love their child, teenage parents are less likely to have the tools and financial capabilities to offer a child all they need for a secure, safe and healthy start in life.
A child with teenage parents who are financially incapable of ensuring suitable health care standards are met, both nutritionally and hygienically, is more likely to suffer poor health. Development of social skills, language and cognitive ability can also be delayed due to inadequate parental interactions and guidance; something often associated with teenage parents.
Teenage mothers are less likely to ensure their children go regularly to school, learn to attain standardised national literacy and numeracy levels and follow appropriate routines. These children are also more likely to have limited access to life experiences.
The loss of a young parent’s own youth and education, narrowed opportunities and restricted lives are further fallouts of young pregnancies. Young girls find it more difficult to pursue dreams and contribute to society once they have a child.They are often reliant upon others for survival and therefore have little control over their lives and what they can offer their children. Risks during pregnancy for teens is a harsh reality and unfortunately a significant contributor to the age group’s mortality figures.
Young people if you have the choice, think carefully before you make a decision, or fail to make one, and bring a child into the world.
They do not only need love to survive. The need food, adequate shelter, security and guidance. There are far too many children already in need of, and lacking, so much.
We are in the 21st century and women have the opportunity to control those areas of their lives more than ever before. The cultural cycle that exists of children begetting children needs to be broken so we can focus all our family resources of time, knowledge and money on the thousands of young people already in need.


Natural high or brain destroyer?
Drug misuse and abuse has existed from the beginning of time, especially those drugs which are found growing naturally. The use of marijuana has increased significantly and is often underestimated in its risk capacity. Scientific studies increasingly suggest it may not be the risk-free high that many users and non-users believe it to be. However, it is still widely perceived by young smokers as relatively harmless.
Marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals, including THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Since THC is the main active chemical in marijuana, the amount of THC determines its strength or potency and therefore its effects. The THC content of marijuana has been increasing since the 1980s. All forms of marijuana are mind-altering; they change how the brain works.
The risk to both physical and mental health is becoming frighteningly evident, unfortunately predominantly among young people. It is presenting itself in significantly higher incidences of hallucinations, paranoia and the triggering of psychotic illness in adolescent users. Although the risks are dangerous to all ages, the developing brain can be the most severely damaged through cannabis use.
Brain development in childhood continues through teenage years and into the early 20s. Cannabis affects how the brain’s regulator controls things like mood and memory. The fragile circuitry that is developing in the teenage brain that allows for risk-taking is being tampered with and cannabis can alter the system that’s there to regulate things. These effects cannot be corrected. If damage is done to the brain during growth, it will forever be affected.
Studies of frequent adolescent users suggest those who start smoking early have a higher tendency to develop psychotic illnesses. While cannabis use is not to be condoned, if you are going to indulge, it would be wise to avoid doing so until later in life when the brain has stopped developing. It can worsen psychotic symptoms in people who already have the mental illness schizophrenia, and it can increase the risk of long-lasting psychosis in some people.
For many, repeated use leads to addiction; controlling the drug use becomes difficult and a person often cannot stop even if they wanted to. Like most abused substances, it alters judgment leading to risky behaviours that can expose the user to danger in all sorts of dimensions. Regular use of marijuana has also been linked to depression, anxiety, and a loss of drive or motivation, which means a loss of interest even in previously enjoyable activities.
Of course, not everyone who smokes marijuana will become addicted. Each person is affected in different ways and that can depend on many factors including genetics, the age you start using, whether you also use other drugs, family and peer relationships.
People are often heard saying that they have used marijuana for decades with no psychotic effect and there may be rare cases where this appears to be so, but if you were to ask people closest to the users they would no doubt tell a different story.
Users may function well enough, hold down a job, continue in school and lead an apparently normal life, but the likelihood is that they experience and exhibit some negative personality traits that are enhanced by smoking. High doses of marijuana can cause disturbed perceptions and thoughts or paranoia. Users are not necessarily aware of this but family members, partners or friends will be and it can have a negative effect on relationships.
Even those users who manage to stay in school will be more likely to experience school failure due to adverse effects on memory, attention and learning. If you use regularly; alertness, concentration, and coordination will diminish. Combined, this makes it difficult to learn something new or do complex tasks that require focus and concentration. Daily use can cause the brain to become ‘dimmed down’ and result in lower grades and high dropout rates. Research even shows that IQ can be lower if you smoke marijuana regularly in your teen years.
The irreversible consequences of using this drug at an early age can be devastating. It can significantly impede development of key brain functions that are vital for the perusal of successful adulthood. The financial burden and high instances of addiction are detrimental aspects that can affect those closest to you significantly. Believing there are no effects or consequences is a dangerous oversight to make about your physical and mental health. As with many drugs, the highs will eventually be over and you will be left with the long-term effects of the lows.

Healthy relationships

When we think about things being unhealthy we usually think about our physical self and well-being, but the state of our emotional being is of utmost importance to the quality of life we lead. Who we surround ourselves with can have a huge impact on our emotional health and in the areas we may not have control over, for instance at work, the way we choose to interact with people can be significant in keeping a positive state of mind.
One of the most important relationships we become involved with which impacts us on a daily basis is the partner we choose. For whatever reasons we are attracted to, or fall in love with our partners, the reality of that relationship as it plays out over the weeks, months and years often teaches us a thing or two about our initial reasons for being with them!
Whether people change as they grow or have always had certain tendencies but managed to keep them hidden in the initial stages, or we were just too blind with new feelings to notice things that cause difficulties later down the line, people often find themselves in relationships that are counterproductive to their mental and physical health.
It can be difficult to disengage yourself from a long-term partner, especially if there are children involved. If you are unhappy in your relationship and it is not due to abuse but maybe selfish or thoughtless behaviour or a simple clash of personalities, there is a good chance you can work out ways to improve it. There is always the possibility that a new approach or awareness can shift things to a healthier plane.
A healthy relationship is not necessarily one where you spend every possible moment together, in fact the most successful and fulfilling relationships are those in which each person has personal interests of their own and they enjoy time with friends and family both with and without their partner. The healthier each person’s own life is outside of the relationship, the more likely they will be happier within the relationship.
Relationships take work. They come with lots of ups and downs and they can give us the most intense feelings both wonderful and despairing. Sometimes we have to consider if it is ourselves who are failing to contribute to a healthy status.
Also to consider is if we allow a partner to treat us less than respectfully we have to take responsibility for allowing it to continue. Not speaking up in a calm manner, or failing to communicate needs and listen to those of our partner may similarly contribute to a failing relationship.
What does a healthy relationship look like? It is a relationship in which you feel safe and comfortable expressing yourself even if your opinions are different from your partner’s. It’s about having those opinions valued and listened to without judgement but with understanding.
There is great importance in supporting each other’s goals in life and respecting each other’s feelings and friends. Also in accepting responsibility for yourself and accepting any past wrong doing, admitting when you are wrong and communicating openly and truthfully.
It is making a concerted effort to ensure there is a fair distribution of work and responsibility for the relationship, household and children. Making money decisions together so that both benefit from financial arrangements regardless of who earns the money; as often a woman has priorities that do not allow her to pursue great financial return. Partners need to seek mutually satisfying resolutions to conflict, be able to accept change and be willing to compromise.
If someone has never witnessed or experienced such a relationship it is not surprising that they expect less from a partner. Adults should be trying to model such relationships for their children or at least be teaching them about the importance of a fair distribution of power, respect for one another and encouraging each other’s goals.
Knowing what you are looking for in a relationship gives you a better chance of finding it or finding someone who is willing to work with you in order to achieve a state where both of you feel valued and important.
You have to offer your partner all the things that you require and not just expect it from them. If you are willing to, and you try to give your partner all they need for a healthy relationship then you deserve to receive the same.

How well do you deal with conflict?

Conflict is a part of our everyday lives. Each individual is so unique and we have so many differences of opinions, even among friends, that conflict is bound to arise. For good ideas and true innovation to immerge, we need conflict, productive argument and debate.
There are those of us who shy away from any kind of conflict, finding it difficult to confront opposing opinions and avoiding it at all costs, while voicing our concerns in a safer space; but mostly being left frustrated at the other persons lack of empathy, failing to realise that if we don’t convey our feelings they will never understand our way of thinking and we will never create the opportunity for discussion.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who thrive on conflict, those who love to be in the midst of controversy and are fuelled and excited by the prospect of disagreement; poised to deliver a superior viewpoint. Unfortunately, they can be closed to others’ opinions and too set on being right to consider the other persons perspective, feelings or experiences. This can be a suffocating position because it breeds a false sense of grandeur and stifles development, growth and empathy. Going in to a conflicting situation with a closed mind denies the other person respect and ourselves acceptance of the possibility of our imprecisions.
Balanced between the two are those that understand the inevitability and value of conflict and want to use it to learn, to inform and to consider new ways of thinking. Usually this approach allows the conflicting party the room and freedom to express themselves fully and also encourages them to offer the courtesy of listening and considering their opposition’s viewpoint. With this approach even in the eventually of residual disagreement, both parties are likely to be comfortable agreeing to disagree.
The conflict many of us avoid and fear is much worse than the reality of voicing a conflicting opinion. The discomfort of the disagreement and the ensuing outcome could be minimised by a firm but fair approach. Often the result of avoiding conflict is that we end up doing things we do not want to do or feeling that we have compromised ourselves by standing by and failing to challenge an ill-informed point of view. Do not leave a conflict rich encounter thinking your silence has won because it is unlikely that it has achieved anything other than leaving the person you are dealing with feeling superior; believing your silence is an admission that if you argue you will lose.
You may reason you are above taking time to challenge some people and it doesn’t matter what they think but that shows a lack of care to your fellow human and a lack of responsibility for yourself in the interactions where you arepotentially a facilitator for change. Opportunities during interactions in which you could have a positive or evoking influence should be utilised. Within personal relations avoidance it is not asign of a good relationship; on the contrary avoidance is a symptom of a serious communication problem.
Conflict can be foreboding to the pacifist and the aggressor for the same reason. They may be afraid to have to accept another’s valid point. While one moves away silently the other bombards their opponent and refuses to listen, both are afraid of the same thing. Those that debate and consider are strong enough to accept they are not always right; they want to grow, they want to develop, they want to teach and to learn.
Anyone who is already, or hoping to, successfully manage the full potential of relations between their workforce, employer, peer group or family would have had to face and embrace conflict. We are all unique and are a product of knowledge personality passions; there is bound to be conflict. Accept there are likely three sides, yours theirs and the truth.
Some ways of working towards dealing with conflict either as an involved party or someone trying to facilitate positive outcomes should approach conflict with an eye for resolution. Ask questions to better understand the viewpoint of others – what was expected,, why was it not achieved, can needs be met, were they unrealistic, can they be achieved eventually? Recognise differing perspectives and allow them fair consideration. Look at honest and unintended mistakes and accept them. Someone has to genuinely want to avoid further escalation to find effective ways to resolve issues.
The nature of conflict is the nature of human interactions. We can use it for development or hindrance. Decide your approach.

Effects of domestic violence on children

UNICEF reports that every year hundreds of millions of children are exposed to domestic violence at home, and this has a powerful and profound impact on their lives and expectations for the future. It is one of the most prevalent human rights challenges that exist and it seems to be ever increasing. Violence in the home is not limited by geography, ethnicity, or status; it is a global phenomenon and unfortunately in this part of the world it is rampant.
We are all aware of the magnitude of the numbers of families living in this situation and we are also aware of the realities of the effects on the women or men suffering because of the abuse. We are even forthcoming in acknowledging that it affects the children but have we really considered how deeply and how much lasting damage is caused?
Living day to day with the uncertainty of a violent reaction to a normal occurrence can be exhausting and frightening for a child. Children are susceptible to taking the blame for negative domestic occurrences and it is a victim label that can follow them in their own future relationships.
When you are in the presence of the two people in the world who are supposed to protect you, look after you, provide for you and love you, you expect them to afford each other the similar sentiment – hence a family unit.
Watching the abuse of your mother, sometimes by a man other than your father, can not only break a child’s heart, but also their spirit. It can teach young children acceptance of unhealthy behaviours in a relationship with far-reaching connotations.
Studies around the world have shown that children who are exposed to violence in the home may suffer a range of severe and lasting effects. There is significant risk of harm to the child’s physical, emotional and social development.
Infants and small children experience so much added emotional stress when they are exposed, that it can harm the development of their brains and impair cognitive and sensory growth.
Social development can be damaged in various ways. There can be a loss in ability to feel empathy for others. Children may end up feeling socially isolated and unable to make friends easily due to social discomfort or confusion over what is acceptable. Poor concentration and focus means they are more likely to have difficulty learning so may have trouble with school work and not be able to perform well.
At an early age, a child’s brain is becoming ‘hard-wired’ for later physical and emotional functioning and that development is threatened by the negative experiences they are having in an abusive home. This can lead to personality and behavioural problems that can take the forms of psychosomatic illnesses, depression and suicidal tendencies at any stage of life.
Children from violent homes have been found to exhibit signs of more aggressive behaviour, such as bullying, and are more likely to be involved in fighting and exhibit violent, risky or delinquent behaviour.
Later in life, these children are at greater risk for substance abuse, juvenile pregnancy and criminal behaviour than those raised in homes without violence. They are more likely to be affected by violence as adults – either as victims or perpetrators and so there is a strong likelihood that this will become a continuing cycle of violence for the next generation.
Studies from various countries support findings that rates of abuse are higher among women whose husbands were abused as children or who saw their mothers being abused. They learn early and powerful lessons about the use of violence in interpersonal relationships to dominate others and all too often go on to practice it.
If there is violence within your home, no matter how well you might think you are hiding it from your children, it will be causing them harm; significant harm. Whether you are being violent or allowing someone to be violent towards you, what you are doing is subjecting your children to a sequence of events that they do not have the capacity to understand. They cannot comprehend what has diminished someone’s senses enough to negate their responsibilities as a parent, whether it is alcohol, substance misuse of misguided judgement.
The damage may not be apparent right now but be sure there will be damage and it can affect your children in so many different areas and for the rest of their lives.