By Stephen Walton
.....Teaching The Golden Rule with "positive parenting" techniques should be viewed as a positive and pleasurable opportunity to discover creative ways of communicating and developing mutual growth for you and your child.
You must never underrate the power of this wonderful parenting tool, keep it in the forefront at all times.
We all know the principle of the rule, but with life stresses, time constraints, the hustle & bustle of life, we plug away often losing sight of this essential part of our parenting role.
Why is it so important?...
The virtues that encompass The Golden Rule foster the desired behaviour required for positive social interaction and development of an esteemed personality in your child.
They are heartfelt and honourable virtues, such as...
Kindness, Respect, fairness, patience, forgiveness, trust, honesty, thoughtfulness, consideration, courtesy, co-operation and understanding.
All of these positive traits are acquired through encouragement and teaching The Golden Rule's core virtues of empathy and compassion for others.
Since your child looks up to you for guidance in such social behaviour, it's important you model the rule's principle at all times. Open your heart and mind, challenge yourself daily to look for opportunities to demonstrate its principle.
Your aim in teaching The Golden Rule is not attempting to manage your child's behaviour, but in providing inspiration and motivation to bring out the best in your child.
Consciously and intentionally speak and practice the virtues you strive to promote to build a solid foundation of good character traits in both you and your child.
All that being said!…… Where do you begin?…
It's important to understand, the essence of "positive parenting" is coaching and mentoring your child through kind, positive communication and mutual respect.
By habitually using the words of the virtues, they eventually become second nature to your child.
Start when they're very young as there is no particular age appropriateness. Children are very inquisitive, if they don't understand a virtue in most cases they will eventually ask you what it means.
Many children as early as three or four years of age can begin to relate individual virtues to their actions. As they age and mature their reasoning skills develop, increasing their level of understanding and sense of empathy and compassion for others.
Experiment with single virtues at first, increasing them as their vocabulary develops.
Refer to our "List of Virtues" for some common examples.
While teaching The Golden Rule, it helps to recognize that it is expressed in both a positive and negative context. Depending on the situation, one is more appropriate than the other.
"Do unto others"… One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.
When teaching The Golden Rule, look for opportunities to praise and encourage your child when they exhibit the rule's behaviour.
Acknowledging and reinforcing the virtue your child has practiced will validate its worthiness, helping your child to feel good about him/herself and take pride in their actions.
Choose a particular virtue you wish to promote and experiment in your own way. As previously mentioned, age appropriateness will depend on your child's level of understanding.
Of course you know your child better than anyone...
Always remember their little minds are like tiny sponges that soak up astronomical amounts of information.
Here are some simple examples using one or multiple virtues at once.
Above are just a few typical examples. Keep an open mind for opportunities, be creative and most importantly keep the virtues in the forefront at all times.
"Do not do unto others"… One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.
While teaching The Golden Rule the negative expression should be used for corrective action by shedding light on inappropriate behaviour, where your child has disregarded a virtue (eg. kindness, respect, patience)
Some common examples:
Your child hits another child, screams or yells at someone, is not showing fairness, lies to someone, is not being courteous or co-operative, etc.
The intent is not to shame or lecture or instill guilt, but to help them understand their own feelings in order to learn and grow.
The purpose is to promote learning through understanding and reasoning, not by punishment or any type of punitive action.
It is of particular importance not to tell your child what to think or do, but to guide them through their own thought process in order to develop their own judgement skills and problem solving abilities.
Never rush this process, it takes time and patience, but… the bi-products are immeasurable. Every child has their own pace and learning style. Expect it will take repeated attempts, however, if properly nurtured all children have the ability to eventually get in touch with their own feelings.
The most effective "positive parenting" tool for teaching The Golden Rule, is "active listening." Your child must feel they are not only heard but their feelings are understood. You don't have to agree but you must validate their feelings with love and understanding.
Here is a very simple three step process to follow. You will find it works wonders in most cases. After a few attempts it will become second nature to you.
Of course you must realize it will take your child some time to develop their emotional skills… always remember… "patience" is a virtue.
Understand and respectfully acknowledge your child's personal feelings.
Guide your child in the understanding of empathy for others.
Encourage your child to develop self thinking and problem solving skills.
In most cases if you have communicated effectively, they will suggest reasonable solutions on their own. In any event, you should remind them to always use their words to express themselves.
Of course an apology generally prevails, however... Only have them apologize if you believe it is sincere, otherwise it will be in vain.
I can't express enough how teaching The Golden Rule by advocating all its virtues will serve to develop the empathy and compassion required for harmonious life relationships and build honorable and acclaimed character traits commended by all people.
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