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4 Things we can all learn during Presidential election season

4 Things we can all learn during Presidential election season

The Presidential Election is all over the media these days.

During this campaign season, there are MANY ways you can increase your knowledge – or help your children learn something new. You could sit down and watch a debate, turn on a news channel and see highlights of the candidates’ speeches around the country, or you could even just watch those wonderful commercials that are always so positive. Or, you could take it upon yourself to actually focus on learning something useful!

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As a teacher, I am an avid believer that we never stop learning – or at least we shouldn’t. Learning new things helps us to be better informed and more knowledgeable on subjects that really matter in our world, as well as allowing us to make connections to things from the past. What better inspiration for learning than our upcoming Presidential election? And who knows, maybe you will even be a more prepared and more knowledgeable voter to boot?!

What can you learn? Well, let’s just stick with four main core subjects in school: Reading, Writing, Social Studies, and Math.

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For starters: Read! 

There are several autobiographies on the current candidates out there that are really good reads! Of course, an autobiography is written by the person about himself or herself, so it will be written with “voice,” a term your children are used to hearing in school. We encourage them to write with “voice” so that when others read it they have a sense of who you are. These books are great examples of just that. These books were written from the perspective of wanting you to understand why they are where they are in life.

  1. An American Son: A Memoir published in 2012 about Marco Rubio. The first half of the book is his life story, including how his family migrated to the United States from Cuba – this is an amazing journey to read about!
  2. Trump: The Art of the Deal was originally published in 1987 by Trump himself. This book is part memoir and part advice. This book should be on the shelf of anyone who wants to learn about big business.
  3. Living History published in 2003 and about Hillary Rodham Clinton. Of course she has since published several other books, but this is the only one that focuses on her life.
  4. Outsider in the White House published just last year is Bernie Sanders’ story. This is a different type of biography and is really only about his political life, but still gives good understanding about his views and how he got those views.
  5. My Life by Dr. Ben Carson is basically the updated version of Gifted Hands. Dr. Carson’s story is perhaps one of the most inspiring stories you will ever read. Yes, the American Dream is still alive and well!

Next, what about writing?

Can you actually practice good writing during election time? Yes! There will be upcoming debates that will be invite people to write in questions through online sources. Take this opportunity to teach your child how to ask a good question. A question that is thoughtful, provocative, and well-ordered. Why not have them submit a question? Who knows… it could be chosen!

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Social Studies…

This one is easy… and very important!

Our candidates must answer questions about foreign policy, homeland security, and diplomacy as well as questions about working with Congress on issues like immigration. Take this opportunity to freshen up your knowledge about the global economy, who our allies are, and even things you might not really remember well from Government class.

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Use this election time as a teaching time to really show your children where places are on a map, globally, as well as our own map of the United States. Maps usually are not that exciting to children, but when they learn where places are and how things going on there affect us here, all of a sudden the map becomes a tool for learning.

Math. Yes, Math!

During our election season the Electoral College is referenced often. Understanding it takes a bit of research. Looking at maps where you see the numbers of votes needed from “swing states” in addition to those that the candidate will likely “get” is worth looking at and explaining to your children. Many adults do not really understand the whole Electoral College, but there are a number of resources online to help you learn – and this is a good, practical application of statistics.  Adding up the votes on the night of the election is really something you can watch on any major new channel and is quite exciting. Yes, math can be exciting (or upsetting… depending on how you end up voting), especially when it affects the next four years of our life!

So, get out there and have fun learning during election season. Then, get out there and vote!

Featured photo credit: Wally Goebtz via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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