The dream of most parents is that their children experience a happy and peaceful life. What most parents want for their children is for them to develop the capacity to remain calm and peaceful when things around them are confused or unfair. But in today’s world it is hard to live without being exposed to conflict and confusion. As a result it is important that parents work hard to make home a place where children can learn to resolve differences calmly and peacefully.
Somehow we must let us know that there will always be those who are cruel and selfish. We must teach them that the action of others does not need to disturb us. We must let them know that when we let insecurity and fear rule our life we doom ourselves to lives of loneliness and misery. We must help them learn that meanness in others is an indication of the other person's insecurity. We must help them recognize that they can remain calm even if others choose a life that is self-centered and inconsiderate of the needs of others. We must teach them that true peace comes only through love and understanding.
The following are a few suggestions that may be of help in teaching children to be at peace with the world even in the world is not at peace with us.
1. Create a peaceful atmosphere in your home. This can be done by playing restful music. It can be done by controlling the tone and volume of your own voice. (Yelling accomplishes little and instantly punchers a peaceful atmosphere.) A parent can create a peaceful atmosphere by putting an arm around their child or looking directly into their eyes when they talk to them.
2. Avoid statements to your children like, "I have a right to get upset." or "You needed that." Your children do not "need" to see you upset or having a temper tantrum. If your boss used these same statements or had a temper tantrum I don't think you would feel peaceful. There is, of course, a place for "righteous indignation" when children do something they know is wrong. But even in theses situations a parent's message can be given with calmness, "How sad that you deliberately broke the rule. When you keep the rules I know I can trust you. When you don't keep the rules I can't trust you."
3. Give your children tools that can be used to help then remain peaceful. These tools are tools that we all use but they will need reminding to use them. You can tell your child to "Count to ten." You can let your child know how useless it is to try and convince someone you are right. Being right never changes others. Help your children learn that it takes more courage to walk away from a fight then to fight. Let them know that it is not their job to make sure people do the right thing.
4. Introduce activities that promote peace in the house. One such game would be to get a quart jar and some marbles. Challenge family members to fill the bottle by adding a marble to the bottle each time they see another family member doing things that promote peace in the family. You may even plan a special activity when the bottle gets full like going out to eat or renting a special video to enjoy together.
5. Play the "What if" Game. Ask children to respond to various situations. Have then individually or as a group tell you how they would respond to various situations. "What if your friend forgets to meet you at lunch?" "What if your little brother flicks you with a rubber band?" "What if someone calls you a name?" The answers to these "What if" questions help children to practice what they would do in various situations. As a result they are more prepared for similar situations when they really arise and are more likely to react peacefully.
6. The most important concept for the parent to teach is that each individual is responsible for their own behavior. Help them recognize that they have no power over others but a lot of power to over their own behavior. Let them know that others do not determine if they are kind or not. They determine that they will be kind or peaceful.
As parents we need to help our children understand that peace is an inner experience. Our peace of mind should not be controlled by circumstances we have no control of. If a child can learn that peace begins with them, they will have the foundation to live a peaceful life.