Chapter 6. another reason why school can be hard, or great: other people

>>Chapter 7: Everything is interesting, even the weather>>     <<Chapter 5: Your brain: like the most expensive car in the world<<

How to tell when two people aren’t getting on

Good morning, my young Alien friends. How about some history today? Hmm. What’s going on between you two? My advanced detective skills tell me you are angry with each other. Well, first of all, you’re sitting facing away from each other, your arms are folded, and you’re both scowling. It looks to me like you’ve had a fight. Would you like to tell me what it was about? No? Maybe later? All right, let’s talk about another reason why school can be a great place to be or a very hard place to be. Other people.

Why it’s important for us to learn to get along

We humans and Aliens live for a long time and need other humans and Aliens to stay alive, and to live well. Octopuses, on the other hand, are very intelligent creatures, like us, but they only live for a couple of years and spend most of their lives alone. It takes us humans AGES to grow up and be able to look after ourselves, whereas a baby giraffe can walk and feed itself as soon as it’s born.

Our love-hate feelings for other people

We need a lot of help from older humans, parents, relatives and teachers, who have to feed and clothe us and teach us about life and the world we live in to make sure we survive to adulthood. There are usually other young humans around us, brothers and sisters, schoolmates and friends, who we play with but who we are sometimes in competition with, for the love, attention and resources from the older human guardians we depend on. Sometimes we love these other young humans, and sometimes we hate them. Sometimes the older human guardians aren’t as good at being parents, teachers and guardians as we would like them to be, and it’s hard to love and respect them. Sometimes we hate them as well.

Getting on with people is something we learn to do

So it’s normal to love and hate the people around us, and one of the most important things we have to learn, which is not, unfortunately, a school subject in most schools, is how to have good relationships with the people around us. In other words, we need to learn what we can do so that we spend more time loving people and less time hating them. Learning how to do this is as difficult and complicated as learning about Maths or Shakespeare, and can take a lifetime to learn.

Why getting along with people is generally better than not getting on with them

Learning how to get on with people means we can have people around us who we can play with, learn from, and ask for help when we need it, and we need this when we are young and vulnerable, but we also need these things for the rest of our lives. Knowing how to get help with everyday problems from people we trust and love makes life much easier than trying to do things on our own like understanding maths, going to laser quest, buying clothes and other things we want or need, sorting out a problem we’re having with another person, deciding what to study in high school or university, finding a job, or finding somewhere to live.

It’s important to learn how to get on with other people at school – but it’s not a school subject (although it probably should be)

School is a place where we need to learn how to get on with other people, because we are surrounded by all kinds of different people at school. At school there are rules and daily routines and obligations to learn different subjects, and it all works ok if we’re feeling good, but there are no rules or lessons to help us understand what to do when someone, a teacher, relative, schoolmate or friend, makes us feel bad about ourselves. Religion is supposed to give us rules for how to behave to have good relationships with people, like “forgive people who are nasty to us”, and “don’t think bad thoughts about people” – but they’re usually impossible rules to follow, so we’re always breaking them, which also makes us feel bad.

What can we do when we have problems with people at school?

So how can we start to deal with difficult feelings and situations? Difficult situations we could find ourselves in could be, for example, a teacher we think is boring, or a schoolmate who says something mean to us, or a friend we have an argument with, or a school subject we’re finding difficult. For any difficult situation there are only four possible  types of thing we can do.

  1. Change something about the situation to make it better.
  2. Change something about what we’re doing or saying to make things better.
  3. Accept the situation as something we’re just going to have to live with.
  4. Leave, quit, run away, if the situation is unbearable or dangerous.

Here’s the list of the the only four things you can do in difficult situations, with examples.

  1. We can try to change the situation we’re in. For example if we have a problem with a boring teacher we can try and find help from other adults or even friends to help us learn the subject, or learn to do our own research. Or if someone is saying mean things to us and making us feel bad about ourselves, we could tell someone we really trust, who will help us feel good about ourselves again.
  2. We can try to change what we are doing. For example, maybe we realise that we get into arguments with our friend when we start teasing each other, and one of us gets hurt feelings. So we need to stop saying certain things which we know will make our friend angry. And maybe tell our friend that when they say certain things to us we’re going to get angry.
  3. Accept the situation we’re in. Maybe, history and geography just aren’t our thing, and we’re good at other subjects, and we’re going to concentrate on doing well in those.
  4. Leave, quit, run away. This is only a solution if there are no other solutions in 1, 2 and 3. For example, if someone’s about to beat us up, then it’s a really good idea, but if the problem is our French class, then it definitely isn’t the best solution.

How can we decide what to do in difficult situations?

It’s not easy. The thing is, before we can decide what to do we have to make sure we have really understood the difficult situation we’re in. For example why is the other person doing what they’re doing? Is there anything we can do to make the situation better? We need to think about the difficult situations we find ourselves in, about how they  make us feel, figure out if there’s anything we can do to solve our problem and work out what the best thing to do is. There’s often more than one thing we can do. These are problems to be solved, just like solving maths equations, or learning French grammar.

The best way to start solving difficult situations and feelings is to ask someone we trust for help, even when feeling bad makes it hard to trust people. Also, we’re more likely to find the help we need if we ask more than one person.

By the way, sometimes teachers, like me, can be people you ask for help.

So would you like to tell me why you’re upset? Maybe I can help.

>>Chapter 7: Everything is interesting, even the weather>>     

<<Chapter 5: Your brain: like the most expensive car in the world<<

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