TIPS to Build LIFE SKILLS KIDS NEED When THEY PARTICIPATE in Creating a Better World

Written by, Vanessa Cole with Consultation by, Dr. Sarah De Los Santos  July 21, 2018


It was a standard summer night in our house... the kids were sprawled out on the sofa, tired & sunburned, (despite the layers of sunscreen we applied) from a long day at the beach... when you're literally IN THE WATER for 4 hours straight, which is standard for our kids, a sunburn and tired is pretty inevitable! As they laid there, reading ( & badgering each other in between), they were aware of my husband, Chad and I talking about a CALL TO ACTION that came through our social media feed from Patagonia:

"The federal government is currently considering opening waters off Southern California coasts to new off shore drilling for the first time in 30 years. Our beaches are at risk. Don't let new oil rigs off our coastlines become a reality opening the possibilities for oil spills, harming marine life and devastation to our coastlines." #DefendOurCoasts

The CALL TO ACTION was prompting others to visit a link provided by @patagoniavta that offered the phone number of all local congressional representatives and a simple script to utilize to use our voices to ask that they not let this happen.

Our family cares about making sure that there is a healthy ocean and sea creatures for our children, and all the generations that will follow them, to live out their lives enjoying. We participate in (and recommend to others) many VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES WITH OUR CHILDREN with organizations like SurfRider Foundation and Patagonia Action Works  to share and teach this value and responsibility we will hand down to them. So, our discussion was about creating a post on our social media to ask others to participate and to INCLUDE OUR KIDS IN MAKING THE CALL TO OUR CONGRESS PERSON.

As parents, it's also important to us that we teach our children that they don't need to be angry or feel out of control to make a difference in the world we all live in. Instead, there are tools for our compassionate voices to be heard on topics we care about in powerful ways, together with others.

We thought we were doing a thorough job of teaching them this WHILE SUPPORTING them with such heavy topics, until Addyson, my little 7 year old, pulled me aside, as tears welled in her beautiful, blue eyes, and said:


"Mommy, I'm sad to tell you this. I just have to. They won't listen. They just won't listen to what we say."


As a mom, my heart broke. I know how big my little Addy's heart is and that her tears were for all the little sea creatures, like sea slugs & fish and dolphins & seals that she cares for and swims with while we visit the beach. I knew all these little friends were on her mind. I knew she was afraid for their safety, and it broke my heart that she felt powerless in her voice to say, " I don't want you to drill for oil. I don't want you to hurt my animal friends and make my beach all dirty when you inevitably spill oil into the water."

Her tears and her earnest belief that she was powerless, prompted my call to our AddyPres consultant, Dr. Sarah, to talk about the situation and seek her advice on how we could include Addyson, a 7 year old, in participating in things that will impact her life, help her feel empowered AND make sure we build her life skills to have the opportunity to cope through the long haul of the course of action.




I think anytime a child feels defeated like this, it’s important to validate their feelings. To do this, in this situation, you can say something like: "I know this may seem like a big challenge, and it is. Sometimes, when we face big challenges, it seems like it will be impossible to succeed."

Then, it is helpful to be realistic, because her concerns are valid. Not everyone will listen, but some people will.  It's important to point out those people will be her helpers, and that there are helpers in most every situation. In my opinion, this relates to Addyson's self awareness (the ability to identify one's thoughts, feelings and strengths and recognize how they influence one's choices and actions.)  It’s important for children to be aware of how our emotions affect our choices. Being afraid that they won't be heard or helped, MAY LEAD THEM NOT TO EVEN TRY. I think a great way to build Addyson's self awareness, in this situation, is to offer her some examples of problems that have been difficult to solve, but people have worked hard to make changes anyway... AND SUCCEEDED.


This will teach her that even when a challenge seems big, she can still find helpers and make changes. 



Dr. Sarah also suggested, that we read a book to Addyson, that addresses this very issue. Kobi Yamada's book, What Do You Do With A Problem might be the perfect reminder that there are opportunities hidden inside every problem, but we need to have the courage to face those problems to find these opportunities. (Purchase Title in our AP Books for KIDS List your purchase supports education that builds tomorrows stewards through our 1% for the Planet membership)




Addyson caring for a family of sea slugs on the Topanga Beach Shore for a SurfRider Beach Clean up Day


As parents, we feel it's our responsibility to open opportunities for our children to participate in solving the challenges of their time, that will impact their lives, like our ocean's ecosystem health. It's also very important that we participate in building our children's life skills to cope with all that this responsibility brings, through life skills in self awareness, social awareness, self management, responsible decision making and relationships with others so they have the perseverance to continue to share their voices. Thank you, Dr. Sarah, for your experienced insight and helpful guidance.




To connect with Dr. Sarah with your parenting questions, please visit our Families Page.