As we embrace 2024, I am sure that what many adults will be wishing for is peace in their lives, for their families and in this very uncertain world. Daily, we are reminded of the very antipathy of a peaceful world.
Adults are inevitably anxious and fearful. This affects our children. Now, more than ever before, it is vital to look to our children who represent the future and teach them how to be peaceful and to achieve peace within their lives and beyond.
Peace is interlinked with one’s well-being and this affects individuals, families and, ultimately, the whole of society. Research has shown that people who are brought up to believe in peace and resolution are happier and more successful. This impacts the society that they exist in.
It is important that our children are equipped with the knowledge and understanding of how to live peacefully and be active citizens and advocates for human rights and freedom.
Research shows us that children are far more open and receptive to new experiences than adults and are not afraid of failure, with a willingness to try again. This is why teaching children how to live a peaceful life from a very young age is so very important. Children are the future!
However, one would be very naive to believe that this will happen instantaneously, and world inner peace can be achieved overnight! Yet, there is so much that we as parents and educators should and can do, not only for our children but also for ourselves and the world.
No one is inferring that our daily lives are conflict free. It is how we handle issues in a peaceful way that is so very important for our children and ourselves.
In classrooms and at home, the creation of a peaceful environment is the place to start. An atmosphere of respect, honesty and showing tolerance is the key. All adults should model this behaviour and deal with issues in a respectful way.
In classrooms, many teachers create proactive class rules with their students at the beginning of a school year so that all children know how they are expected to resolve any conflicts, and the consequences if these rules are not adhered to.
It is the teacher’s role to lead by example and to oversee and assure that the rules are applied fairly and openly. This approach also applies at home. If we are respectful with people and demonstrate and model positive conflict resolution, our children will learn from us.
Involving children of all ages in the wider community and giving them a degree of social responsibility in both the local and community beyond allows them to appreciate the understanding that theirs, and other actions, have wide reaching consequences outside of the family home. This can be as simple as organising a food collection at school for a homeless shelter or organising a beach clean-up, to being involved in raising money for charity.
Children should be encouraged to think about and find solutions for events that happen in their lives and beyond. Involving children in problem-solving activities is an excellent way to begin this.
Use real-life relatable problems. Young children can make suggestions about many aspects of their lives from solving how to divide a birthday cake equally for the whole class to thinking about how to encourage fellow pupils to stop dropping litter!
Older children can be encouraged to think about solutions and how they would achieve them for bigger problems. Children of all ages bring a fresh perspective and often very creative solutions!
This can equally be applied in the home. When was the last time you asked your child to help resolve a domestic problem?
Achieving peace and teaching our children how to live a peaceful life begins with every one of us. We should never underestimate the influence that we have on the children that we raise and educate. It is how we nurture their young minds and how we behave that will have the greatest influence on our and their future!
By Penelope Best,
International Education Consultant