Parents and educators are always trying to spark student participation whether it’s in the classroom, in the local community, or throughout the world. When middle-school students were asked what they could do to improve their country, they focused on what they understood: bullying, violence and racism.
Those problems are all rooted in the same issues. They stem from a lack of personal integrity and absence of social responsibility. Children who choose to put those values into practice are actively working toward peace. But they can only put into practice what they’ve learned; instilling those values may seem simple, but many parents miss the mark and actually model the opposite.
Throwing money at social problems like racism or violence doesn’t resolve them, but children can.
The energy from kids’ excitement can make a real difference, especially when their energy is focused right here at home. They see problems; it’s up to us to give them the tools to address them. The following tips can help parents teach their children personal integrity and social responsibility, giving them the keys to world peace.
Never lie in front of your kids. It may seem obvious, but many parents lie in front of their children or encourage them to lie; misstating a child’s age to save money on movie tickets or allowing them to take credit for school projects completed by the parent. These seemingly inconsequential lies suggest it’s OK, even good, to distort the truth. This causes long-term damage a million times more costly than whatever was gained in the short term.
Give your kids a reason why. Author Mark Twain once said that the two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you figure out why. If you fail to tell your kids why we are here, you have missed the opportunity to figure out what motivates them and gets them excited. This is the most important key to getting kids’ cooperation and empowering them to help the world.
Don’t criticize your children. Criticism is toxic, so why do almost all parents criticize their kids? When we focus on what they aren’t, they believe they can’t. This creates angry children who express their pain by bullying others. It’s better to tell them how you feel rather than what you think of them, e.g., “I feel frustrated that you didn’t listen to me,” or “Can you say that in a more loving way?”
Don’t speak badly about other people. This is probably one of the hardest things to do, considering we’re a generation that pays for gossip. Speaking badly about others teaches kids to look for what they view as the negative in others and take joy in sharing it.
Model charity. Actions speak louder than any words. When you teach kindness to children, they tend to feel empathy and have more successful lives, a crucial step toward achieving world peace.
Kids are hungry to form an identity and make their mark on the world. It’s easier to try to bring peace to another country, but that never works. Peace needs to start at home.
Rachel Albert is a certified court reporter, mother of four and business owner. “Quest to Telos” is her debut novel. She is a staunch advocate of boosting teen literacy while inspiring kids to make a difference starting with their own hearts. www.QuestToTelos.com
Published: January 2, 2013