“Peaceability” means understanding, calmness, patience, control, and accommodation — essentially the opposite of anger, losing one’s temper, impatience, and irritation. Just as there are a lot of ways to be dishonest, there are a lot of ways to be un-peaceable.
Peaceability does not mean the elimination of or ignoring of emotions. Rather, it means controlling actions triggered by negative emotions and using positive emotions of love and empathy to promote peace in our lives.
Peace and the control of temper is a powerful and important value that is largely a product of love and of the atmosphere we cultivate in our homes.
Understanding is a vital key to peaceability. We seldom lose our temper when we are trying to understand. Children who are taught to try to understand why things happen and why people act the way they do will become calmer and more in control.
Calmness and peaceability are values because they help others as well as ourselves to feel better and to function better. In addition to being values, they are contagious qualities. As you develop them within yourself, they are “caught” by others around you, particularly by children.
This month, work to create a peaceful atmosphere in your home. Try (a) playing restful music — much classical music creates a feeling of refinement, order, and peace; (b) controlling the tone and decibel level of your own voice — yelling accomplishes little and instantly punctures a peaceable atmosphere; (c) touching others in your family — we talk more softly when we touch; put a hand on a shoulder or arm as you speak to someone.
Set an example of and have an advance commitment to calmness. Demonstrate the practice and the benefits of peaceability to your children and take advantage of the quality’s “contagiousness.”
There is occasionally a place for “righteous indignation” as parents — when children willfully and flagrantly do something they know is wrong and need a stern reprimand. But too often we give in to frustration combined with stress and fatigue and wind up reacting in less-than-peaceful ways to the things are children do. Unfortunately anger, volatility, and impatience are as contagious as calmness. Children frequently exposed to yelling naturally learn to yell.
Teach by praise. Try to develop a “contagious calm” in yourself and to build it in children through positive praise. And when you get upset by your children’s behavior (which is perfectly natural!), take a deep breath and perhaps give yourself a little “time out” to calm yourself and devise a peaceful way to deal with the situation.
Sample Methods for Teaching Peaceability
The Magazine Game
This game helps children realize that it is all right to feel mad or sad, just as it is all right to feel happy or glad, but that it is not all right to hurt other people or their feelings because of how we feel. Flip through magazines or books (or pictures on the internet) with a child, stopping every time a person is pictured and asking, “How do you think he feels?” (Happy, jealous, worried, etc. — this is also a chance to teach children new words and the names of new emotions.) Then say, “It is okay to feel this way?” (Yes) Then say, “Is it okay to be mean to someone else if you feel mad or sad?” (No!)
The Color Game
This is a good way to teach elementary-aged children the good consequences of peace and the bad consequences of anger and retaliation. Cut out two single figures in the human shape, one from red paper and one from pastel color. Tell the children that the red represents temper and impatience, the pastel is control and peace. Give them a situation and let them tell you what each figure might do in each of the following situations:
- You’re playing basketball and you get called for a foul you didn’t think you committed.
- Your friend forgets to meet you for lunch.
- Your little brother flips you with a rubber band.
- Your mom says you can’t have a friend over because you’ve got homework to do.
- Your sister breaks your new toy.
And so on. Think of your own, based on your own experiences.
The “Argue or Analyze” Discussion
Help young teenagers conceptualize the benefits of trying to “understand” rather than trying to “win.” At dinner or some other natural conversation time make the statement that we have many situations in which there is a choice between two A words — arguing or analyzing. In other words, when someone does something to us or says something with which we disagree, we can either fight back and argue or we can try to analyze why he did or said it.
Point out that the second choice is better because we learn something whenever we try to figure out why, and we keep our cool and keep our friends.
*** For lots more methods, great discussion questions, and wonderful audio stories for children that will help you teach your children about each month’s value, check out our Alexander’s Amazing Adventures program.
* Image by prozac1/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Originally published on November 2, 2103.