February’s Powerful Word Is Loyalty

It’s the beginning of a new month, and that means it’s time for a new Powerful Word!

Throughout February 2012, we’ll be working on the concept of “loyalty.”

All our discussions and activities will aim to help our students understand how to be faithful, steadfast and true to someone or something. We will also help them understand that loyalty doesn’t demand silence when we feel that somebody or something is in the wrong.

Powerful Words is the name of our character development curriculum here at Urban Martial Arts. It’s designed by one of the nation’s leading childhood development experts, Dr. Robyn Silverman. Every month, we’ll focus on a different Powerful Word, or concept around character development.

Here’s a video from Dr. Robyn Silverman in which she introduces some of the concepts we’ll be covering this month:

Loyalty is a complex word. It means being faithful, steadfast and true to someone or something, however, it doesn’t demand silence when we feel that somebody or something is in the wrong.

This concept can be confusing to children and teens who may be navigating complicated feelings and relationships for the first time. They may think to themselves; “If I don’t agree with my friend, my teacher, or my family is it OK to speak up? Or, is that being disloyal?” The same can be questioned when they find themselves disagreeing with the general culture of their school, the policies or their community, or the leadership of their country. Of course as adults we know that speaking up and being true to one’s values does indeed show loyalty.

All relationships require loyalty to work. Whether these relationships are family-based, friendship-based, or workbased, being true and supportive is expected. The breakdown of loyalty can seriously compromise friendships in children and adults. It is also not easily repaired.

A recent study out 3 months ago in the journal Child Development, shows that
when loyalty is breached in friendships, pre-teen girls may not be any better at friendships than boys, despite previous research suggesting otherwise.

The study suggests that when more serious violations of a friendship occur, children struggle. In fact, both girls and boys claimed that they would seek revenge, verbally attack, or threaten divulging a secret if a transgression occurred. Girls also reported more sadness and anger when presented with the breach of loyalty scenarios. This may be due to high standards in friendships.

“Loyalty” should create some interesting discussions! I hope you will continue these discussions at home and while in transit, in order to help the children understand this multifaceted powerful word.

To give you more ideas for conversation topics, here’s a run-down of what we’ll be discussing this month:

Week 1 Loyalty defined: Responsibility, faithfulness, dependability, and trust
Week 2 Loyal roles: How can I be a loyal friend, child, sibling and citizen?
Week 3 Speaking up vs ratting out: When “loyalty” feels strange
Week 4 Loyal Student: How can I be loyal to my school, my goals, and my classmates?

We’d love to hear how your conversations go with your child so do share with us!

About Dr. Robyn:
Dr. Robyn Silverman, child development specialist, body image/body bullying expert, sought-after speaker and award-winning writer, is known for her no-nonsense yet positive approach to helping young people and their families thrive. Her ground-breaking research at Tufts University on young women is the foundation for her book, “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It.”

Photo Credit: Mattox on stock.xchng