Welcome to Term 2. A term where we focus on Peace and Love.
I was having a discussion with a good friend who teaches in Wellington over the holidays and she was sharing her personal philosophy on the two things every parent needs to focus on with their children. Her view is that if children have good manners and a sense of empathy then other aspects of their lives will fall into place.
Empathy is such an important character trait. I was watching the news late last term and saw a video of some awful bullying occurring at a high school. It struck me as I watched this video that things can go very badly when children don’t develop a sense of empathy.
I am currently reading a leadership book that suggests that the root of most interpersonal conflict, both small and large, comes from people looking at another person as an object rather than as a person, just like them. The book teaches that as leaders – whether in management, a teacher or a parent it is important that the people we lead know that we see them as people, not as objects. I feel this is even more important in a Christian context as we don’t just need to see others as people but we need to see them as precious people of God’s creation.
This term as we explore Restorative Skills in our circle time programme I think it is important that parents understand that the reason we choose to follow a restorative approach is because the skills, attitudes and processes related to it result in children having a more matured sense of empathy. The majority of ways people in general ‘misbehave’ results in someone being hurt. As we develop a stronger sense of empathy we are less likely to make a choice that will hurt others, particularly as we develop a greater sense of awareness for the impact our own actions have on others. Developing restorative skills and attitudes is not a quick fix type of approach – it takes time and effort for both the children and all the adults in their lives, but is very much worth the effort if we can develop children to become leaders, colleagues, parents etc that see others as people. That would truly bring Light to our world!
A few years ago I felt I was being bullied unfairly by a co-worker. I felt like God reminded me of the scripture to pray for those who persecute you. I had never particularly liked that scripture as I felt like I was supposed to ask God to pour out blessings on a person who was being mean – didn’t seem very fair to me! What I felt God taught me though was that happy, content people don’t general feel the need to hurt others, so if someone is being unwarrantably mean there must be something going on for them that is causing that – so pray into that. God can heal and restore.
We look forward to working with you this term to develop empathy and restorative skills in your children.