|28 WAYS TO TEACH NONVIOLENCE, KINDNESS, AND PEACEFULNESS TO CHILDREN
- EMBRACE YOUR ROLE AS A WISE AND KIND TEACHER FOR YOUR CHILDREN. In a very structured and supportive way, teach your children to systematically identify and solve problems. Be loving, patient, and optimistic with your children as you teach them to be the same way with themselves. Teach persistent and creative problem solving. Teach children self-discipline instead of disciplining them. Teach children to open their hearts, release fear, and try to feel other’s feelings when resolving interpersonal problems.
- PRACTICE RECOGNIZING, LABELING, AND COMPLIMENTING SPECIFIC INSTANCES OF KINDNESS AND COOPERATIVE PROBLEM-SOLVING in front of your children. Teach your children to do the same. You are teaching your children to notice and support what is wonderful.
- PRACTICE RECOGNIZING, LABELING, AND DISAPPROVING OF SPECIFIC INSTANCES OF VIOLENCE AND UNKINDNESS in front of your children. Teach children to do the same in a wide variety of contexts, such as while watching TV, observing peers at school and play, and observing parents and siblings at home. You are teaching your children to think with clarity and discernment (i.e. right versus wrong, wise vs. unwise, rational vs. irrational, appropriate vs. inappropriate).
- SHARE WITH YOUR CHILDREN AND THEIR CLASSMATES BOOKS such as the Chicken Soup for Little Souls series (Goodness Gorillas, Best Night Out with Dad, Never-Forgotten Doll), Katherine Scholes’s Peace Begins with You, Dan Millman’s Secret of the Peaceful Warrior, and The Big Book for Peace, which was created by over 30 well-known authors and illustrators of children’s books. Requests that your school library order books that convey strong messages of nonviolence, kindness, and peacefulness.
- OVERRIDE THE "BOYS WILL BE BOYS" ADAGE THAT ALLOWS US TO NEGLECT OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO TEACH BOYS NONVIOLENCE. Fathers and men are needed to talk with boys in an attempt to diminish the violence-indoctrination and the association of destruction-power with masculinity. Men need to teach boys how to build the power of their intellect, intuition, capacity to nonviolently solve problems, and capacity to love.
- INVITE CHILDREN TO ADMIRE AND IDENTIFY WITH ROLE-MODELS FOR NONVIOLENCE such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Learn more about truly great examples of persons that exemplify nonviolence and love for humanity, and let your children know how much you yourself admire them. Have books about these great persons visible in your home so that both you and your children have daily reminders. At present, our society tends to admire and idolize persons with great athletic ability more than those of great character and great capacity to love and effect change in the world. Start to notice what types of idols you tend to discuss with your children, and make conscious decisions to idolize those that are helping to create a peaceful and loving world.
- PRACTICE RECOGNIZE, LABELING, AND DISAPPROVING OF THE RELATIVELY RECENT ASSOCIATION OF DESTRUCTION-POWER WITH FEMALE SEXUALITY (i.e. women dressed in sexy clothes with guns in hand). As a society, we’ve seriously erred by making violence ultra-appealing and we’re feeling the frightening consequences.
- OPEN YOUR CHILDREN’S HEARTS TO THE REALITY OF THE PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL SUFFERING CAUSED BY VIOLENCE. Unfortunately, there are limitless opportunities for sharing stories of deep pain caused by violence. Television and the movies portray fantasy-violence, or violence without apparent horrible effects.
- HELP CHILDREN TO FEEL THE TRAGEDY OF KILLING SO THAT "PRETEND KILLING" WOULD NOT BE A FUN GAME. No play weapons. No violent video games. Invite your children to consider, "Would I be having fun playing ‘bang-bang, you’re dead’ if my close friend was killed by a gun?" This will help children to release denial of the tragedy of killing. How wonderful this world would be if we all acted in a way that was emotionally connected to the pain of others.
- HELP CHILDREN TO CONNECT WITH THE REALITY OF THE SUFFERING THAT WARS CAUSE SO THAT "PRETEND" WAR WOULD NO LONGER BE A FUN GAME. No war games. If children want to "play" war, let them portray the destruction, horrors, sorrows, moral conflicts, and sadness as if they’re actors in a play. Discuss with your children current wars and fighting around the world. Selectively explore internet sites, such as Save the Children’s, that bring attention to horrible problems such as the use of children as soldiers and the continued use of land mines.
- CLEARLY TELL MANUFACTURERS AND RETAILERS THAT YOU DON’T LIKE VIOLENT TOYS, WAR GAMES, OR VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES BY NOT BUYING THEM. Tell stores not to sell them. Throw the violence-training tools you already have in the garbage, thereby giving an unequivocal message of unacceptability to your children. Spare ‘the needy" of your rejects. If you’re having a birthday party for a boy, write on the invitation, "No violence teaching toys, please." And, obviously, if your child is then going to turn a stick into a gun, handle the teaching of nonviolence similarly. Lion and Lamb is a wonderful organization that works to stop the marketing of violence to children; visit www.lionlamb.org.
- CLEARLY INFORM THE MOVIE INDUSTRY THAT YOU DON’T WANT GARBAGE-VIOLENT MOVIES BY NOT SEEING THEM. Inform your children of you’re your own wise movie choices, thereby teaching them by example. (Of course, movies may be excellent that have violence if they powerfully condemn the violence. The "good guys killing the bad guys" type is not an example of this.) Strictly screen children’s movies and TV. When in doubt, screen it out. Violent movies and TV desensitize children to violence and blur the lines between fantasy and reality. A frightening scenario, particularly in the context of easy access to guns and weapons.
- PRACTICE NOTICING HOW YOUR CHILDREN ACT JUST LIKE YOU DO. STOP HITTING, PINCHING, SLAPPING, SPANKING, WHIPPING, AND SMACKING CHILDREN AND STOP THREATENING TO HIT OR SPANK. Remember how strongly they identify with you the next time you act kindly as well as the next time you act in error. Role-model nonviolence and intelligent problem solving instead of physical force and abuse of power. Apologize for past incidents and firmly commit to stop. You will see that as you behave more appropriately and kindly, so will your children. Your efforts will help to create a new societal standard for the treatment of children. The standard will shift from one where parent’s judgment dictates the severity of violence imposed on children to a standard dictating that intelligent and rational problem solving is consistently expected to prevail.
- ACKNOWLEDGE WITH CHILDREN THE REALITY OF OUR VIOLENT HISTORY AND OUR MANY VIOLENT CUSTOMS. A problem must be acknowledged if it is to be solved. Explain how important it is to acknowledge the reality of violence without minimization, distortion, or denial if we are serious about creating a nonviolent culture. Acknowledge how violence permeates our culture, past and present, whether as manifest in war, boxing matches, or slavery. Discuss how difficult it is to change ways of thinking and acting that have been around for hundreds to thousands of years. Talk about, for example, how beating and whipping human beings has been around for so long that we don’t even think to question what we are doing. Share how important it is for any culture to step back and reevaluate itself from time to time, and to make decisions as to what practices should be eliminated or added if that culture is to thrive. Invite children to share their ideas of peace-making rituals that we might add to our societal repertoire. Schoolteachers, particularly in the context of social science and history classes, can play an important role here.
- SPEAK UP RATHER THAN BEING A BYSTANDER WHEN YOU WITNESS A PARENT HITTING OR OTHERWISE BULLYING OR HURTING THEIR CHILD. Release fear and shine bright. Say, perhaps, "I know that this child-raising thing isn’t easy. We parents need a lot more love and support. I’ve found that the best thing to do is to stop all hitting and screaming. Spare yourself the stress. I promise you that your kids will behave better. I know a psychologist you can contact to receive an educational paper explaining why you should stop hitting." Don’t let your fear of the angry parent stop you from protecting a child.
- COMMIT TO STOP SCREAMING AT YOUR CHILDREN. No, I’m not kidding. Both you and your children will be grateful for the wonderful transformation of your home. Invite your children to chart your screaming or peaceful behavior with simple happy or sad faces, and your improvement over time. You'll need to remind them when you warrant a happy face, but they’ll probably eagerly run to chart your misbehavior! This is excellent role modeling for children of the process of identifying a personal difficulty and honestly working on change. It also teaches them to recognize, label, and disapprove of inappropriate behavior.
- REINFORCE THE "PEACE BEGINS AT HOME" THEME EVERYDAY AND IN EVERY WAY YOU CAN. Work to make your homes as peaceful as you would like the rest of the world to be. For example, if two of your children are having a dispute suggest that they pretend that they are the leaders of two countries that are having a conflict and it is their job to resolve the conflict without resorting to war! This process of teaching children to be the peace that most of us yearn to see in the world is so critical to the creation of a truly peaceful world.
- FEEL LOVE AND COMPASSION FOR YOURSELF FOR ALL OF THE WAYS THAT YOU’VE BEEN HURT. You will teach your children kindness only to the extent that you are truly kind. You will be kinder as you embrace your emotional pain and open yourself to receive love and healing. Seek psychological assistance if you find it difficult to implement these recommendations. A few healing sessions can mean the difference between struggling with anger-control and more effortlessly connecting with a more peaceful and kind way of interacting with your children.
- HELP YOUR CHILDREN TO UNDERSTAND THAT PEOPLE BECOME MEAN OR VIOLENT BECAUSE OTHERS HAVE BEEN MEAN OR VIOLENT TO THEM. Explain that both children and parents have to stop being cruel and start being empathic to children if we want children to grow up and become nonviolent and loving members of our society. Explain that violent killers do not fall from the blue sky, but rather are created by a society that both causes and denies their emotional pain and rage. Explain that emotional pain is fuel for violence. When the media reports an incidence of violence, instead of merely condemning the perpetrator to your children, explore what must have happened in the perpetrator’s life to cause him to feel such rage. Instead of "How could that person ever do that?" explain, "There are good reasons for that kind of rage. We all have a responsibility in our society to prevent anyone from becoming that angry." This emotional literacy training is core to providing children a sense of comprehension and empowerment instead of a false sense of unpredictability and powerlessness. Explain to children that in our society we are in fact doing everything "right" to create a violent world.
- ADDRESS BULLYING BEHAVIOR WHENEVER IT OCCURS. Parents sometimes bully children, one sibling bullies another, and certain children bully others. Both bullies and victims harbor anger, which is fuel for mean and violent behavior. Persons generally do nothing about bullying, or initially attempt to intervene but give up because nothing seems to work. Bullies need professional psychological intervention as a first, not last, resort. Bullies need adults to ensure that they stop bullying, and they need love to open their hearts to a kinder way of being. Recurrent victims of bullying need psychological intervention to increase their empowerment including their capacity to speak up and define their boundaries. Both bullies and victims need bystanders to stop being bystanders and start speaking up, both individually and collectively. Discard the "Kids will be kids" adage as it serves irresponsibility and apathy rather than the teaching of kindness.
- STOP TEASING AND CALLING YOUR CHILDREN "BAD" NAMES (e.g. "bad boy," "lazy"). Correct all teasing between siblings. Feel how badly words can hurt. Feel how important your approval is to your children. Try to remember how you felt when you were made fun of as a child.
- CORRECT UNKINDNESS WHENEVER YOU SEE IT BETWEEN CHILDREN, including at school. Say, for example "What I just heard did not sound very nice. It would be much better if you said (…) instead. Or, "I bet that someone in your life is not being very nice to you because you’re saying not nice things to other kids. If you practice saying nice things instead, you’ll have a lot more friends and a lot more fun." Give some examples of pro-social things to say (e.g. compliments, offers of assistance) and recommend that he or she practice saying 3 nice things daily to their peers. Children respond very well to such a loving and attentive approach. You may be the only person in their life taking this kind of interest in them. This is a great step in helping to take care of all children as if they are your children. The more we all take personal responsibility for bringing love to angry children, the fewer angry and violent adults we will someday have.
- ENCOURAGE SCHOOLTEACHERS TO ASSIGN SCHOOL ASSIGNMENTS THAT DEVELOP CHILDREN’S NONVIOLENT CONSCIOUSNESS. Encourage a focus on changes within self and home, rather than a projection of the "violence problem" as something outside of our selves and our own families. No matter where we are on our paths to love, we can all work on becoming more caring and less violent.
- INSPIRE YOUR RELIGIOUS LEADER, SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, OR YOUTH ACTIVITY LEADER TO EDUCATE AND INSPIRE PARENTS AND CHILDREN on these issues. Inform your children of your efforts to bring about transformation.
- HOST A SERIES OF "TEACHING NONVIOLENCE, KINDNESS, AND PEACEFULNESS" MEETINGS FOR CHILDREN AT YOUR HOME, SCHOOL, OR COMMUNITY CENTER. Teach children principles of nonviolence, kindness, and peacefulness and teach children to teach their peers, parents, and teachers. Role-play with children what they might say or do in various situations. Invite children to dream a vision of a peaceful and loving world.
- POST AN ON-GOING "CREATING NONVIOLENCE, KINDNESS, AND PEACEFULNESS" LIST AT HOME OF ACTIONS FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE TAKEN TO CREATE A MORE PEACEFUL WAY OF BEING. Create a similar chart for your child’s classroom.
- ENJOY PEACEFUL AND HEALING MUSIC WITH YOUR CHILDREN. Powerful music can transform the feeling in your home and bring out the beauty in everyone.
- BREATHE AND SMILE TOGETHER WITH YOUR CHILDREN AS YOU HOLD THEIR HANDS AND FEEL LOVE.
Remember that your own behavior is the most powerful teacher. Please do not selectively omit the more sensitive or controversial teachings because these are the ones that both reflect and cause the core of violence in our society. The most powerful individual and societal change will occur as a direct result of our willingness as a society to courageously confront deeply-ingrained, and therefore sensitive, societal customs that do not serve the creation of peaceful, wise, and kind society.The first page of the "Understand the Need to Create a Clearcut and Nonviolent Standard for the Treatment and Discipline of Children" paper is provided below. The length of the paper prohibits its full download at this website, but please call Dr. Landy and she is pleased to e-mail to you a complete copy of the paper. Dr. Landy can be reached at 305.666.3497 (office phone, messages anytime)
UNDERSTAND THE NEED TO CREATE A CLEARCUT AND NONVIOLENT STANDARD FOR THE TREATMENT AND DISCIPLINE OF CHILDREN. At present, conflicting and often hurtful societal messages prevail concerning whether and how severely parents may impose physically aggressive punishment on children. We must create a standard whereby all physically aggressive discipline is unacceptable, and caring, nonviolent, and intelligent problem solving is consistently expected of all persons, including parents and educators. We must stop spanking, slapping, and verbally assaulting our children, and start teaching nonviolence, kindness and wisdom with each and every interaction with our children if we intend to raise high functioning and emotionally balanced children and create a high functioning and nonviolent society.Consider the last time that you disciplined your child. Perhaps you've called your child names such as "lazy," or "bad." Perhaps you've slapped, spanked, hit, whipped, smacked or pinched your child. Perhaps you've screamed at your child or soap-washed your child's mouth. Please reconsider your behavior in light of the following 8 questions.What is the impact of my disciplining method on:
- solving the identified "problem"?
- my child's behavior, short term and long term?
- my child's emotional development (including stress tolerance, anger management, nervousness, anxiety, and depression)?
- my child's feelings of love and closeness to me, versus distrust and distance from me?
- my child's intellectual and academic development?
- my child's beliefs about themselves, about me as their parent, about how human beings should act, about how to solve problems, and about what the world is like?
- my child's consciousness development (values, morals, comprehensive awareness, vision of the world, peaceful or violent way of thinking, connection with a sense of meaning and purpose)?
- my child's present and future functioning in our society, including their violence potential and kindness potential?
THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION WILL HELP YOU TO ADDRESS THESE QUESTIONS FROM A MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE AND ENLIGHTENED PERSPECTIVE: (Spanking is referred to most often in the following discussion for writing ease but it is understood that this discussion is intended to address all unwise or inappropriate discipline methods.)As you embrace the principles put forth in this paper and begin to think, act and talk to your children accordingly, some of the changes that you may expect in your children include: more kindness between siblings, higher academic performance, more calmness and less hyperactivity, greater emotional stability, more self-discipline, higher stress tolerance, more problem-solving behavior, increased social skills, higher self-esteem, more optimism, fewer behavioral problems, less rebellion, fewer temper tantrums, and more emotional closeness to you. You, as a parent, will feel more proud of yourself, more connected to love, and closer to your children. Your home will be more joyful. The effects on our society will be profound and far-reaching.
1. FEEL SELF-COMPASSION RATHER THAN GUILT, SELF-BLAME, OR SELF-JUDGMENT AS YOU READ THIS. As parents, we've a) never been taught how to effectively parent, b) never been educated about even basic emotional development, and c) do not yet understand how serious an individual and societal problem this lack of knowledge is.Our "emotional illiteracy" is a particularly big problem given that we human beings are primarily emotional by nature. We're not nearly as logical and rational as we think we are. We react emotionally rather than rationally to our children, based on how our parents treated us, and then reflect back on what we did and call it rational and really confuse ourselves and our children. It is not rational, for example, to hit a child for hitting another child and then try to convince ourselves that we are teaching that hitting is wrong or that we are somehow imparting a nonviolent consciousness. Of course, we're generally not thinking too deeply about what we're doing but merely doing what our parents did. Tremendous research and clinical evidence indicates that parenting practices and emotional pain are passed from one generation to another. The pain is often intense. Statistics on depression, anxiety, unfulfilled careers, child abuse, rape, alcohol abuse, and violent crime speak for themselves. If we are to break the cycle of ignorance and pain, we must start doing things very differently and much more thoughtfully. If we start to interact with our children in a much more thoughtful and truly rational manner that is based on knowledge of emotional and consciousness development, our children and our world would feel and show the difference. Emotional Intelligence, by Dr. Daniel Goleman, a psychologist, is an excellent reference to help you understand how emotional functioning determines life and societal functioning. Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh, is a beautiful book that supports the importance of consciousness development. Dan Millman’s, Secret of the Peaceful Warrior, and Katie Couric’s, The Brand New Kid, are both wonderful children’s stories that inspire and teach children to release fear and cruelty, and to open to love and understanding, in interactions with others. The Big Book for Peace is a special volume for children created by over 30 well-known auth ors and illustrators of children’s books. It celebrates many different kinds of peaceful relations among human beings.
DR. LANDY’S TRAINING, EXPERIENCE, & COMMUNITY WORK
Cheryl Landy received her Ph.D. in Psychology, with High Honors, member of Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Florida in 1986. She received her B.A. in Psychology, with High Honors, member of Phi Beta Kappa (graduated 1st in class from the College of Arts and Sciences) from UF in 1978. Dr. Landy is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Florida Psychological Association.Dr. Landy’s passion in helping to create a more peaceful and caring society, and in helping to prevent child abuse, is deep and enduring. It is rooted in 20 years of intensive clinical experience. Dr. Landy is the current Chair of the Dade County Council’s Safety Committee of the PTA/PTSA, whose role is to provide input to Dade County Public Schools concerning creating safer, more caring schools. She works to increase the "emotional intelligence" (i.e. knowledge of emotional and interpersonal processes, including as they interrelate to academic/cognitive functioning) of parents, administrators, teachers, parents, and students by providing many no-fee services. She has developed specific teaching strategies to create more caring and empowered students. Her "It takes a Village" type of community effort focuses on the entire school community learning, teaching, and practicing social, peace, caring, "do the right thing," and leadership skills. Palmetto Elementary School, Miami, Florida, is working at present to implement this strategy. She is also consulting at present with the school community at Palmetto High School to develop a comprehensive strategy to decrease bullying and other nastiness and to increase caring and reaching out to those in need. Finally, she is consulting with the student body presidents of high schools to encourage them to develop increased awareness of, and intervention in, depression among teens. Dr. Landy's central interest, therefore, is developing pro-caring initiatives.Dr. Landy has maintained an independent private practice, in her office in Dadeland Medical Building, since 1987. Dr. Landy's clinical experience includes having served as the Director of the outpatient center of (formerly named) Charter Hospital, a major psychiatric hospital. She is a former (her schedule no longer permits hospital work) staff member of Charter Hospital, Doctor’s Hospital, and Larkin Hospital. Dr. Landy’s training and experience is both broad-based and intensive, encompassing individual, marital, and family therapy, as well as psychological testing (her schedule no longer permits testing referrals).In working with families, Dr. Landy teaches parents how to be agents of change for their children and adolescents. Dr. Landy teaches parents how to replace a punitive approach to discipline with a structured preventative approach. She works very effectively with the full range of disruptive behavior problems, family conflict and divorce, anger, anxiety, depression, and school problems.In working with adults, Dr. Landy embraces a holistic healing approach and has facilitated thousands of hypnotic sessions, including regressions. Her approach lends itself to soothing bereavement work, and the effective alleviation of depression, anxiety, and weight control difficulties. She has facilitated thousands of adults in recovering from physical, sexual, and emotional trauma.Cheryl and her husband, Steve, have been married for over 20 years. They reside with their two children in the Village of Pinecrest, Miami, Florida.Dr. Landy is very thankful for all those who teach, support, or join her in the monumental challenge of bringing love and light to our children and our world. Please contact her if you would like to assist in efforts to teach peace and prevent child abuse. Dr. Landy would be heartened to hear from you concerning the impact of this material. Your (anonymous) testimony of change may powerfully inspire another and will continue to inspire her.Copyright 1997 Cheryl Landy
All material has been written by Cheryl Landy, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist. Refer to the last page for background information concerning Dr. Landy. If you are reading a hard copy of these articles, please do not remove them without the permission of those who provided them for you. If you are reading these articles on-line, please feel free to download and distribute as you choose. You have Dr. Landy's permission to distribute these papers in their entirety, or in part, provided that Dr. Landy's authorship is appropriately cited. Dr. Landy appreciates those who inform her of the distribution of her papers, so that she may be encouraged in her work. This notification is not necessary, however.
CHERYL LANDY, PH.D.
Dadeland Medical Building
7400 SW 88 Street, Suite 415
Miami, Florida 33156
Back to top