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How can parents raise non-violent children in our violent world?
Everybody knows that our children SEE too much violence in their homes and on screens both big and little. Our children have to much violence PERPETRATED ON THEM. And our children COMMIT TOO MANY VIOLENT ACTS!
How much violence is there in our homes and communities? Too much. Although the crime rate has gone down not a day goes by without reports of violent crime, juvenile crime, domestic violence, and child abuse. And we see these reports over and over again on the 5, 6, and 10 o’clock news so in our minds we’ve heard about three murders not one.
Plus violence abounds on movie and TV screens as well as on video and computer games. Plus we are all on high alert against terrorism, a particularly worrisome form of modern-day violence committed by those who are willing to lose their own lives to kill us.
Why do we have so much violence in our world? Sociologists and criminologists have lots of theories. To my way of thinking stresses on today’s family and lack of resources for families is an important factor. Families and individuals feel isolated in our complex, crowded competitive world. Poverty, lack of jobs, despair about not having a future is the fate of many too many young people today. And, of course, the effects of TV and the prevalence of guns both play a role.
Can parents do anything about this? I think they can. Here are the Heins Guidelines for Raising Non-violent Children:
• RESPECT YOUR CHILD. If you model respectful behavior and treat your child with respect you will have a child who respects himself or herself and others.
• SPEND CHILD-CENTERED TIME WITH YOUR CHILD. Many parents are so busy today that the only time they spend with their kids is in adult-centered activities like shopping. Give your kids (and yourself) a break: go to the zoo or the park.
• GIVE CHILDREN RESPONSIBILITY. This helps a child feel, “I count around here.” Kids who feel they count are less apt to act out.
• DO NOT ACT VIOLENTLY IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILD. No road rage or yelling at people.
• DO NOT TREAT YOUR CHILD VIOLENTLY. It makes no sense to tell your child not to hit other children if you hit your kids.
• UNDERSTAND CHILD DEVELOPMENT. Aggression is common in preschoolers. Your job is to teach your children non-violent ways of expressing their needs and wants.
• USE NON-VIOLENT DISCIPLINE APPROPRIATE TO THE AGE OF YOUR CHILD.
• LIMIT TV–and monitor what your child is watching on the computer.
• EXPLAIN (NOT EXCUSE) THE VIOLENT BEHAVIOR OF OTHERS. Discuss better ways of handling disputes.
• TEACH NON-VIOLENT CONFLICT RESOLUTION.
• REDUCE STRESS IN YOUR FAMILY AND CHILD. Do what you can to slow down the pace and lower the noise levels.
• SUPPORT PRO-CHILD/FAMILY GOVERNMENT POLICIES. Crime prevention–which starts in the family–is cheaper than building more prisons.
• SUPPORT SCHOOLS. Education–which leads to a better job–can be a vaccine to prevent violence. Be sure your child’s school stops bullying and teaches conflict resolution.
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