Modeling Non-Violence to ChildrenModeling Non-violence to children is important not only because it promotes peace in the future, but also because it creates peace in the present.  As a parent, school or yoga teacher being a model for kind and compassionate living is about creating peace in your life and displaying the joy and ease that is possible in life to children of all ages.

Ahimsa, as termed in Indian philosophy, entails respect for all living beings (including) plant and insect life) and the belief that all living things are connect.  Ahimsa is not solely about abstaining from physical violence, but also from verbal abuse and unkind thoughts whether toward self or others.  Modeling non-violence, or ahimsa, is a constant practice.  It asks you to be present and to work on the aspects of yourself that you wish to improve.

At the same time, compassion takes remembering that we are all on a journey and will make mistakes.  There’s no reason to be hard on yourself.  Besides, we’ve all got to be a little compassionate even to our uncompassionate self, if you know what I mean!

Tools and Techniques for Modeling Non-Violence to Kids

There lots of different tools for being a compassionate loving role model for non-violence! To start, here’s a list of a few ideas:

-Take time to express your appreciation towards instances of kindness, cooperation, and problem-solving.

-Point out moments in life that display beauty and joy, even simple moments like a bee pollinating a flower.

-Share books with children and teens that illustrate cooperation and problem solving.  There are lots of creative kids books out there to choose from.

-Express to children the allure of compassionate role models such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

-Lastly, and perhaps most important: notice now your kids act just like you do.  Take a stand to commit to new standards of being for yourself and ultimately your child.

Teaching Non-Violence to Kids also means Discussing the Reality and Effects of Violence

Of course we have to respect the old adage that you can’t talk about something without talking about its opposite.  Have you ever read those Zen proverbs that describe something by describing what that something is not?  This is a very touchy subject for most parents.  We want to keep our kids in this soft, cushy, little house of peace for as long as possible before our kids go out and discover the truths of our reality.  But how does that set them up for working in the world and benefiting the world?  It doesn’t have to be gruesome, however.  We can be very gentle in the way we discuss the tragedies of our reality.  When you and your child see something whether on tv, video games, or out in the world that displays violence don’t turn away.  Ask your child to express his/her feelings toward the violence and allow communication to unfold.

It’s important to model compassion and self-awareness to children and also to allow you and your kids to express their feelings toward violence.  We all have the potential to be deeply loving and compassionate beings.  Even people in the world who cause suffering deserve our compassion simply because we know they are hurting inside.  Ahimsa does not exclude anyone or anything.  Learning this and living this is a continual practice we are all working on.  By modeling non-violence to children and the rest of the world we are doing a service to the present and the future of our world!

We would love to hear from you and let us know how you model compassion and self awareness to your children. Please share in the comments section below.

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