At the College, we have endorsed the My Life Rulz program written by Joan Koskela and David Riddell to build emotional resilience in our students. Our goal as a College by teaching the My Life Rulz program is this:
Goal: To provide Christian Worldview education to upskill, and lay down truth in our students to build their emotional resilience, mental and emotional health as well as positive relationships with God, Parents, Teachers and Peers, and knowing their Identity in Christ.
The program has 10 rules which are taught from Prep to Year 12. Term 1 of this year we focused on Rules 1-3 and here is a brief description of each rule that has been taught.
RULE #1 I belong here, I do belong.
Goal: To build, develop and integrate internal belonging and connection with people and place. To foster a balance between an internal sense of belonging and a sense of belonging within the community.
One of our greatest human needs is to know that we belong. An internalized sense of belonging and security is fundamental for emotional health. This sense of belonging must come from both inside ourselves, and from living and being in community with others. If we look to external things only, such as our achievements, the world around us or how people perceive us, we give others or our circumstances the power to determine our worth and value. This means that we may try to control how people see us because only by dominating their opinions, attitudes and perception of us, can we feel safe. Alternately we cling to a group, a gang or a person in order to feel as if we belong. Developing an externalized sense of belonging along can be costly and is ultimately doomed to failure.
The knowledge and feeling that we belong to a family, a community, to a creator, or a group, gives us our internal and external sense of belonging and security. A child normally gains their deep sense of belonging from emotionally connected parents. Parents that love, validate, nurture, affirm, and connect with the child from conception. In addition, a child’s sense of belonging will be aided by teachers that believe in them. Every new environment that we interact with, such as pre-school, kindergarten, school, friend’s houses, sports teams, our marriages, our community or our churches, challenges and test our sense of belonging.
Rule #2 I can used to the place I am in and still grow.
Goal: To understand that every situation we face has the ability to make us bitter, or better, but it is we who must decide that. Difficulties are opportunities to grow, to learn something new, and to gain new skills and new wisdom. We can adapt and adjust over time.
Bad things do happen to good people. In many situations, children are innocent victims and this can really interfere with their sense of justices in the world around them. They may also wonder whether things are their fault or whether they are to blame, and this undermined their emotional safety and security. While it is never pleasant, pain is our invitation to receive new insights, wisdom, tools and reassurance. Children need to understand this and be given tools to learn and grow even through painful times. In order not to become disillusioned and hopeless they need deep reassurances and hope for a better future. They need to know that they can choose to believe that a painful situation is temporary even though, at times, they cannot fathom how it is going to come to an end.
This is about blooming where we are planted, about turning lemons into lemonade. We may not be able to change our circumstances or situations (especially as kids) but we can change and work on our attitudes. The human spirit is incredible in its ability to adapt and survive horrendous situations, and stories of survival against all odds continue to fascinate and inspire us. This insight is a powerful truth in helping to understand that we can be useful to society and those around us wherever we find ourselves. We don’t have to wait for ‘perfect conditions’ to be internally content and happy or to be helpful to others. The apostle Paul spoke of being content regardless of wealth or poverty, abandonment or support, hunger or satisfaction and so on. This insight will also help a person to stop seeking some elusive ‘destiny’ or ‘purpose’. We can live, thrive, find a purpose, and help others regardless of our circumstances. We don’t need to keep postponing happiness until ‘all our ducks are lined up’. We can learn how to be happy now.
Rule #3 – I deserve to feel safe and loved always.
Goal: To grasp the idea that the human spirit needs love and safety for its proper functioning, growth and development. God intended us to be safe and loved all the time even though we don’t usually receive that ideal easily.
If we grow up in a loving, nurturing, validating home, we are more likely to feel safe, loved and secure. Unfortunately, many children do not live in a safe environment much of the time. There are many things that can cause someone to grow up feeling unsafe, especially at an emotional level, including having a parent who is controlling, obsessive, pedantic, authoritarian, unreasonable, too busy, disinterested or angry. Children need consistency, security, flexibility, fun, laughter, food and shelter and to feel emotionally safe. If a child is or feels unsafe at a very early age she/he will live with angst which can continue throughout her /his life. The results of being or feeling unsafe can include anxiety, phobias, fears, stress, control, depression, hopelessness, low self-esteem, under-achieving and anger. This issue of emotional safety is vital. Children are excellent recorders of their experiences but poor interpreters of them. Sometimes they may actually be in a safe place, but not feel safe. In an ideal world all children would grow up feeling loved, safe, secure and valuable, but unfortunately, this is often not the case. So, we must find a way to ‘antidote’ the poison that is laid down in the foundation of the subconscious as it is developing.
The Rules and their adjoining truths are in our school diary on page 13 for Primary and page 18 for Secondary.