The “I Wills” of Flexibility

  • I will not get upset when plans change

Children all too frequently cry, pout, complain, and even throw temper tantrums when they don’t get their way. The character quality of flexibility recognises that such behaviour is wrong. It is not only wrong, but creates extremely difficult situations for both parents and teachers alike. Sometimes these wrong behaviours are simply learned. Children learn that when they cry, they get their way and when they pout, parents or teachers give in. Teaching flexibility helps to counteract such manipulative behaviour by encouraging self-control, patience, and discretion.

  • I will look for the good in changes

Flexibility is optimistic in that it looks for the good in something. The word optimistic comes from the same Latin root as optimum, which means “best.” A flexible child considers a change in light of its benefits and looks for the best to happen as a result of the change. Even cancelled outings or rescheduled activities offer some kind of good. By looking for the good in something rather than the worst, a flexible child usually finds it.

  • I will respect the decisions of my authorities

The fact is that children and students can’t always understand why things change. They don’t share the same knowledge, experience, or maturity that comes with being a parent or a teacher. Regardless of how much or how little they do understand, they can still respect the position of authority by listening, asking questions, and controlling emotional impulses.

  • I will not be stubborn

Stubborn means “remaining stiff and fixed in one place.” The original meaning of the word was considered a compliment. To use the word implied that someone was resolute and steadfast. In the fastpaced and ever-changing world in which children live today, the term refers to those who are obstinate, opinionated, or refuse to bend. Unfortunately, those who refuse to bend often break.

  • I will not compromise what is right

While flexibility encourages one to accept change, flexibility does not yield to changes which are legally and morally wrong. Flexibility never excuses wrong behaviour by blaming it on others, including authorities. It doesn’t say “I was just following orders,” because it knows and holds fast to what is right.

Character First! Education Series 3