Facing up to problems
by Laurence Chilcott
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To consider the fact that it is usually better to face up to life’s difficulties rather than run away from them (SEAL theme 3: Going for goals).
Preparation and materials
- You could display some pictures of forest fires and some animals native to Australia, including the dingo.
- Download or print the poem at: http://mancheser.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/what-someone-said-when-he-was-spanked.html (note that it may be appropriate use an alternative, less ‘loaded’ word than ‘spanked’).
- Read the poem from the link given above.
It is very tempting to run away from problems. The boy in the poem has been upset and would like to run away, but the fact that tomorrow will be his birthday makes him think twice. He doesn’t seriously plan to run away, but he imagines that his parents would treat him differently if he did. He doesn’t yet understand that loving parents only discipline their children because they love them and want them to understand and learn about appropriate and inappropriate ways to behave, right and wrong.
- The earliest people developed a natural reaction to danger – an instinct called ‘fight or flight’. When they were out hunting and they came across an enemy or animal that threatened them, they would have to decide in an instant whether to stay and fight or run away. To fight would often ensure that their hunting grounds were protected and their enemy or the animal would retreat to their own area, but they risked being injured or killed. To run away would mean that they might have survived, but their hunting grounds would be lost.
- How we react to problems in our lives can be very much like ‘fight or flight’. We can stay and face them or we can run away. If we run away from our problems, they may seem even greater if we meet them again at some point in the future. Although it may not be easy, it is usually better to face up to them, for, in doing so, it makes us stronger and wiser.
- In the bushfires that happen in Australia, winds can drive the flames so fast that even the fastest animals cannot outrun them. The smaller or slower animals are often caught out first, but sometimes even the swiftest kangaroos cannot get away from the fires and nothing can save them. Their natural instinct is to flee – and it is a very sensible response as fire is too dangerous for any animal to face. Any animal, that is, except the dingo – the wild dog of Australia – for the dingo does something quite remarkable.
If dingos realize that the flames are too fast for them to outrun, they will turn around and face the flames. At just the right moment, they will run as fast as they can towards the approaching flames and leap through the fire to the scorched earth on the other side. They may have singed fur and sore, burned feet, but they will survive. By facing the flames, they survive when so many other animals will not. It is said that hares do the same thing in this country.
We can learn something from the dingo.
- Have you ever accidentally broken something belonging to someone else? You could put it down and hope they will not notice, you could say it was broken before you touched it or you could face up to what has happened and apologize for breaking it. It is not easy to admit our mistakes, but it is better than lying to others or blaming someone else.
- At school, have you ever done something wrong by being thoughtless or mischievous? Did you keep quiet about it when a teacher investigated the matter? Did you allow someone else to take the blame? Did you own up to it only when another child told on you?
Did you, instead, have the courage to admit that you’d done something stupid, apologize and accept the punishment for it?
It’s never easy to admit our wrongdoing, but, if we face up to it, we can move on and learn from our experience.
- In some circumstances, running away is the best or only option, but often difficulties are best faced up to.
Do you have something you would rather run away from? Remember the dingo!
Time for reflection
It is likely there will be particular incidents that have happened in school you could mention as they relate specifically to this assembly.
Talk about the satisfaction of overcoming nerves and reciting a poem to the class or taking part in a play when you are an anxious or shy person.
Discuss the concept of ‘making mountains out of molehills’, but also reinforce the wisdom of discussing some problems with friends or trusted adults.
Outline occasions when it is sensible to run away from situations or dangers.
A follow-up assembly on the story of Jonah would fit in well with this theme.
We pray that we may have the courage to face up to problems and not run away from them.
We pray for your guidance when we need to make difficult decisions.
Help us to be truthful and honest and may we always remember that you have promised to be with us in times of trouble.
‘When a knight won his spurs in the stories of old’ (Come and Praise, 50)