1. Teach your child that every person , animal and thing has worth.
When we treat our children with the respect and empathy they deserve you teach them that every person has worth. No matter how small the voice , they are worthy of our attention.
Teaching socially acceptable behaviour such as , “if mummy is speaking with her friend you shouldn’t interrupt” is also important. We then show our children that mummy’s friend or that stranger on the other side of the phone has worth.
Model treating animals with love and respect.
Allow them to see your outrage when you’re mistreated , allow them to see you responding maturely and responsibly – and certainly discuss the mistreatment to be certain they understand why you were outraged.
Be open and honest with them about your own personal moral code so they will learn to be conscious and deliberate in their behaviours.
Model respect for other’s property and our own property.
2. Don’t raise them with violence!
It should go without saying , I suppose, but just in case, avoid violence in your parenting technique , even a dismissive swot on the hand can translate as “it’s acceptable to raise a hand to something or someone we disapprove of” to a young child.
Violence can have many forms , physical violence being what most people attribute to the word.In my mind ,violent behaviour encompasses any deliberate harm of another person ,animal or thing, physical, emotional , or spiritual.
3. Don’t “fight” or verbally retaliate against your partner (or anyone else)– especially in their presence
Many of us want to teach our kids to be nonviolent, and ,it’s important to remember that nonviolence is the result of when we opt out of playing tit-for-tat when faced with interpersonal conflict.
We must demonstrate how to speak peace and love in the face of escalation.
4. Don’t glorify patriotic violence.
Within the culture we live in patriotic violence is often glorified and revered. Mostly we see it on American television shows but it’s not just there. There is a certain acceptance that combat and war somehow stands in a different playing field than “terrorist attacks” .When it comes down to it , how is violence against one side more acceptable than violence towards that side? Society sees those who use patriotic violence as some kind of hero…let’s take a moment to consider that…double standards , right?
5. Chat with your children about the ethics and risk of owning a toy gun.
Have your children consider the reasons why they would want to even pretend to hurt an other when they already know it is wrong to hurt others.
Besides all else, innocent people get shot every day, and playing with a toy gun only desensitises our children to the gravity of that reality.
Banning toy guns became more difficult for us when our son started playing with the other children in the summer. Water fights were a favourite activity on hot days and I was afraid I was making him an outcast with my zero tolerance approach to toy guns.In the end I agreed to search for ‘squirt toys’ that were not gun shaped. Unfortunately my search was futile, none gun shaped squirt toys were all tiny and needed refilled far too often.So we bought water guns , but only after in depth chats with him about how dangerous guns are and how we disagree with toy guns , these water guns were tagged ‘squirt toys’ within our home and i encouraged the children to say ‘squirt’ instead of ‘shoot’ .
( Language has incredible power – I’ll wrote a blog post on the power of language soon!)
6. Invite your older child to make informed moral choices about the types of video games they play.
Many video games depict physical violence in graphic detail. Ask your child to think about how they really feel about playing violent video games.How could even imagining hurting another be ‘fun’?
Also partaking in playing violent video games has the ability to desensitise a child to the realities of violence, and developing a comfort with simulated violence is not the direction we want to encourage our children to be moving in.
7. Equip them with coping strategies and conflict-resolution techniques.
One of the keys, I believe ,to raising nonviolent children isn’t so much convincing them that violence is wrong, (they already innately know this!) but equipping them with the ability to manage their emotions without violence, and to be able to navigate conflict using a different set of tools. Before they are equipped with such tools children will resort to their most primitive tool – violence.It’s not that they want to cause harm but simply that they don’t yet know how to respond or express their upset effectively. Approach such moments with empathy and compassion.
8. Demonstrate forgiveness and reconciliation whenever possible.
For children to learn to successfully navigate conflict they ultimately need to know how to experience and extend forgiveness towards others. The only way to teach this is to constantly model it. While most of us probably tell our children to say sorry and ask for forgiveness when they’ve done something wrong , I think of even more importance is that we, as parents, model this by saying sorry and asking their forgiveness when we have wronged them. Kids need to learn both sides of this equation!