In a world that is filled with conflict and turmoil, it is essential to teach our children peace. Here’s how to go about it.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
All of us know that we live in a world where wars, terrorist attacks, brutal murders, bombings and the like happen almost every other day. But, how would we react if young children were involved in such brutality - being both the perpetrators and the victims?
This is exactly what seems to have happened going by the following headline -
'Ryan's class 11 student killed junior to postpone exam: CBI' - TOI, 9 Nov, 2017
And, the junior in question was a seven-year-old student of an international school in Gurgaon. According to investigations, the motive the accused had was to postpone an exam and a PTA meeting which were to be held on the day of the murder.
Shocking and frightening, isn't it? So, what can we do about it?
The answer lies in teaching our children about peace – not only to be at peace with others but also possess inner peace. This is a major responsibility for us, parents. Here are some ways to impart this value to them.
1. Friendly neighbourhood: Let your child establish friendly relations with neighbours. Remember, it is across the fence that quarrels often begin. Teach her to be patient if there are any misgivings with neighbours. Patience and peace go hand-in-hand. And, ask her to greet neighbours with a smile. It goes a long way in nurturing relationships.
2. Peace march: Organise a peace march or rally in your community and encourage your child to actively participate in it. He can even help you in putting up the event. You can, together, prepare placards and posters with slogans and logos on the theme of peace.
3. Peace gifts: Help your child to make personalised gifts such as painting a quote on peace on a T shirt or large pebble, writing a peace couplet on a greeting card, or cutting out shapes of doves from chart paper. Let her hand over the gift personally to classmates, friends, neighbours or anyone else whom she has either quarrelled with or has developed an aversion to. As she gives the gift, let her smile and say, ‘Peace be unto you!’ She will be surprised to see how much love and cheer this act of hers will spread all around her.
4. Conflict resolution: Impart lessons on conflict resolution to your child. This is a skill he needs to develop so that he can have peaceful relationships. Whenever he has a problem with someone such as being unable to see eye-to-eye with that person on a particular issue, having a dispute over who has ownership rights over an object, or a simple disagreement, teach him to stay calm, analyse the situation, reflect on his actions and then resolve the issue.
5. Forgiveness quotient: ‘Up’ your child’s forgiveness quotient by teaching her to both apologise gracefully as well as forgive willingly. These are important steps in learning about the concept of peace. If your child either refuses to say ‘sorry’ or is unwilling to forgive, she will only harbour bitterness in her heart. And, it will reflect in all that she says and does.
6. Quiet time: Encourage your child to set aside some ‘quiet time’ for herself every day. This should be the time that she shuts herself away from all that is happening around her and spends some moments in prayer and meditation. She could also spend this time in self-introspection and reflection. She can learn to calmly deal with her inner conflicts and turmoil, if any, and be at peace with herself.
7. Serene retreat: Plan week-end or monthly retreats to a place where you will be free of all distractions and commotions. Let your child literally experience what being calm and quiet means. Choose a getaway that will offer serenity in the lap of nature. Say ‘no’ to gadgets and learn to unwind as a family. Teach your child to be one with nature and realise his commitments towards the conservation of nature and wildlife. Make him understand the need to peacefully co-exist with all living creatures.
8. Leisure activity: Spending time on solitary leisure activities and hobbies will help your child unwind and destress. She will learn to shut out the pressures of life and seek pleasure in her interests and passion. This will surely grant her that much-needed inner peace. Activities such as gardening, painting and writing poems will prove therapeutic.
9. Soothing music: Listening to melodious music can prove to be medicine for the soul. It can calm frayed nerves, ease tension and help relax the mind. Let your child develop the habit of listening to music, or even better still, learn to play a musical instrument. Music can prove very beneficial, especially, when he faces inner conflicts and turmoil.
10. Quiet corner: Set aside a place at home where you or your child can sit and calm down. Place fragrant candles, flowers and motivational quotes in this corner. Ensure that this place is absolutely quiet without any disturbance or noise. It should, especially, be a gadget-free corner. Place a journal so that you can note down the thoughts that cause turmoil. Pouring out your heart will relieve tension and calm the mind.
Let these lines of St Francis of Assisi (1181–1226) be our children’s refrain.
‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me bring love
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon
Where there is discord, let me bring union
Where there is error, let me bring truth.’
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj