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7 habits of Happy Kid's Mural.

By professional Artists Michael Lude & Jennifer Lude, Including collaboration and installation with professional artist Daniel Karnes.

We created this mural for North Elementary School in Lansing Michigan. Jennifer and I developed characters and their interactions to be centered around these 7 habits.

Habit 1:  Be Proactive

Means to take responsibility for your choices and behaviors.  Habit 1 is the key to all of the other habits, that’s why it comes first.  Be Proactive says “I am in charge of my own life, I am responsible for whether I am happy or sad.  I can choose how I react to other people or situations.  I am in the driver’s seat”. Young children can easily learn to understand that different choices yield different results.  The goal is to teach them to think about those results before they decide what to do.  Discussions can focus on taking care of themselves, taking care of their things, reacting or not reacting to others’ behavior, planning ahead, and thinking about what the right thing to do is.  With your child, think of ways to Be Proactive at home.

Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind

Means to think about how you would like something to turn out before you get started. Reading a recipe before cooking or looking at a map before leaving on a trip is beginning with the end in mind. For young children, a good example is that of a jigsaw puzzle. Before doing a puzzle, they look at the cover of the box, they start with the end in mind.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

 Means to decide what is most important and to take care of that first. Thinking about what needs to be done tomorrow or by the end of the week can be overwhelming especially for children.  Learning to think of which things are the most important and taking care of them first, allows children (and adults) to be less stressed.  If your child uses a planner at school, then he or she has a great organizational tool to Put First Things First in writing.  By writing down his or her responsibilities and planning ahead, last minute trips to the store, missed events, or missed homework are avoided.  If your child does not use a planner, have a weekly log would also be helpful.  This could simply be a piece of paper that is used each week.  Modeling this behavior is one of the best ways to teach children. 

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Is the belief that everyone can win.  It’s not me or you-it is both of us.  It is a belief that there are enough good things for everyone, it is an abundant way of thinking.  Think Win-Win is being happy for others when good things happen to them.  As a parent, not everything is negotiable, but if you go into a discussion with your child with a Win-Win mindset, you’ll find a lot less resistance.  

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.

Means that it is better to listen first and talk second.  By taking the time to listen to another person, you reach a higher level of communication.  Teaching Habit 5 to young children is done by first considering their age and development.  Young children find it difficult to understand another’s paradigm (point of view).  This habit is best approached by introducing listening as a skill that should be practiced.  Learning to listen without interrupting and learning to listen with your ears, your eyes, and your heart will help children build a foundation for Habit 5.  Simply put, we have two ears and one mouth so that we can spend more time listening with the intent to understand. 

Habit 6: Synergize.

Is when two or more people work together to create a better solution that either would have thoughts of alone.  It’s not your way or my way, but a better way.  Talk about the equation 1+1=3 (or more).  How is that possible? 1 person + 1 person = 2 ideas or many more than either of them would have thought of alone.  Synergy is taking good ideas and making them better by working together.  Discussions can focus on other examples of synergy in nature, history, literature, and personal experiences.  For example, synergy happens in nature when a flock of geese heads south for the winter. They fly in a V formation because due to the updraft, the entire flock can fly farther than if each bird flew alone. 

Habit 7 Sharpen the Saw:

Means to have balance in your life.  There is a story of a man who was sawing down a tree and not making a lot of progress.  When a passerby asked him why he didn’t stop sawing to sharpen his saw, he remarked that he was too busy sawing.  Habit 7 reminds us that we are more productive when we are in balance -body, brain, heart and soul, just like the four tires on a car.  If one area is being ignored or overused, the rest will feel the results.  For young children, the car analogy is one they understand, a car could not go on fewer than all four tires.  Explain the four parts of each person (body, brain, heart, and soul) and how important it is to take care of each part to make them all work better. 

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