Connecting with Conscience... Quietly
"Tommy! Turn off that TV! Haven't I told you a hundred times to ask me before you turn it on?" You're right. You probably have told him a hundred times maybe more. But your words are ignored: they simply haven't yet connected with his conscience.
Helping kids respond to their conscience is a daunting task. In fact, it's so difficult that many parents and educators more-or-less give up.
Classroom cheating is on the rise; school-based crime is up 22% in the last ten years.* In a culture with few absolutes and abundant examples of misbehavior, is it any wonder that our children would be slow to connect with their conscience?
While the development of conscience is a many-sided exercise,* we have discovered a great tool for the nurturing of conscience that is mostly overlooked in current literature. We call it Quiet Correction. Instead of repeating corrective language over and over, you help the child make the needed change with few or no words at all. For example, instead of telling Tommy to turn off the TV again, you quietly help him do it. He needs to do it - even with your help - in order to drive the point home. Again, instead of reminding your kids to play quietly because Grandma is sleeping, you silently bring the noisy offender(s) to play quietly near you for a few minutes all without words. Instead of telling your child again to go to bed, you quietly take him by the hand and lead him to his bed.
What is the connection with conscience?
- First, the child is motivated to use his own brain to figure out what you are wanting. Now he will understand that you actually meant what you said!
- Next, the child learns by doing. Since Quiet Correction almost always involves helping the child do something, Quiet Correction can make a more lasting impression than a barrage of corrective words.
- Finally, and most importantly, Quiet Correction helps develop a child's sensitivity. Most children start life as very sensitive people. However, we tend to desensitize them with scolding and other "noisy" corrections. In contrast, this approach helps them develop quiet responsiveness to their conscience.
*See "Teach Your Child to Have a Conscience": http://www.thedesertsun.com
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