Sep 21, 2010

PEACE IN EVERY STEP - Celebrating International Peace Day


Ethan on the way to school today:























Ethan came home from summer camp one day (he was 3 years old) and asked me “Mama, what does peace mean?” Wow. What a beautiful question. Tears filled my eyes. How do I answer that? How do I help Ethan to understand something so simple yet so complex? How do I help guide him to be a good and kind person in the world… help him to grow into a kind and gentle person who promotes peace in his actions, who celebrates peace in every step?

That day I answered Ethan by telling him it was important to be kind to everyone in the world --- to love and be kind to all of the earth’s creatures. And I explained that everyone is different in the world and that it was important to celebrate and appreciate these differences. And that sometimes people are not kind in the world and don’t appreciate each other and that can lead to bad things like war. Our discussion about PEACE continued from that day and has blossomed into a beautiful discourse.

I’d like to share a simple acronym that I devised to teach Ethan about peace:

P = Passion and Compassion in all Actions
E = Equality for Everyone
A = Appreciation for all People/Cultures
C = Caring for all Creatures
E = End to War

P = Passion and Compassion in all Actions
I talk to Ethan about how lucky we are to be on this earth. How lucky we are to have friends and family who love us and who we love. And how the way that we act can make a difference in the world, by helping others and setting a good example. By always saying “thank you” and being appreciative. Our mantra is “be thankful and be kind”. I talk to Ethan a lot about how he can make a difference in the world. About how important it is to love what you do and to do what you can to make the world a better place. One of our favorite books to read is “Only One You”. It is a beautiful book about how there is only one you in this world and how you can help make it a better place. Simple things like having Ethan clean out his playroom and take some toys that he has outgrown to a local charity and packing up his coat each winter to send to New York Cares Coat Drive or One Warm Coat has helped him to build compassion. After watching the Haiti benefit with me (he sat through the whole thing!), Ethan started collecting coins from around the house to send to Haiti. And for his birthday this year, Ethan gave up presents to raise money for a well in Africa. It all started with a photo that he saw showing children filling buckets/bottles with water at a well.. and has grown into a wonderful learning experience. http://mycharitywater.org/Ethans5thBirthday

E = Equality for Everyone
I talk to Ethan about how important it is that everyone is treated equally. How in the past this was not always the case. How some people, because they were women or because someone thought they looked different in some way were not treated fairly. I asked Ethan if he had ever experienced this. He said, “Yes, Mommy. When xxxxx came to school with a new haircut everyone made fun of him and didn’t let him play with us on the playground.” Wow. This example made for a great discussion. I asked Ethan to imagine how he would feel if he was xxxxx. We talked about alternative ways for Ethan to act. To step up so xxxxx wasn’t excluded.

A = Appreciation for all People/Cultures
Ethan and I talk a lot about “celebrating differences”. I try to point out examples of how wonderful the world is because it is made up of so many different continents and countries and cultures and people. By pointing out different holidays celebrated in different parts of the world throughout the year, I try to help expand his understanding and appreciation. And I have stacked his bookshelf with books that explore and teach about different places and people and cultures. Children love stories and books are a wonderful way to explore the world and these important concepts.

C = Caring for all Creatures
Children are instinctively caring and loving. They love to be hugged and kissed and cared for… and they learn from watching us! It is wonderful to see Ethan comforting another child or comforting a doll or stuffed animal using the same words that I use to comfort him! It also makes me realize how huge the impact is that we have on our children! Ethan has also learned to be kind from having a pet to care for. Our little Maltese is only 7.5 pounds (less than our cat!) and he knows how important it is to be gentle and watch out for her. We also spend a lot of time outdoors exploring nature. Finding insects and frogs and lizards --- and always returning them back to their habitat --- has taught him to be kind and not squish them!

E = End to War
Talking to a child about war and about the terrible things that happen in the world is difficult. I have chosen not to avoid these topics but to be careful not to overwhelm Ethan. We talk about how there are bad things that happen in the world and how some people are unkind to others. I told Ethan about what happened on 9/11. We were at the Liberty Science Center and there was a piece of one of the trade center buildings. I got very emotional and Ethan wanted to know what was wrong --- but he was only 2 ½ years old. So I explained simply that there were 2 tall buildings in New York City with many people in them. And that some bad people stole some airplanes and crashed the planes into the buildings. And that this was a terrible thing. He had many questions…”Why?” and “Were people hurt?” and I answered them all honestly.

There is a wonderful book called “A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope” that has provided a wonderful way to broach this topic. A barbed wire fence, soldiers, a vine and 2 children are woven into a beautiful and thought-provoking story. We have just added it to the Rosie Hippo website. Ethan loves this book and asks to read it often…always with more questions. Some other books we love to read about peace, togetherness, and making a difference are:


Today is the International Day of Peace also known as World Peace Day. It is observed by many nations, political groups, military groups and people. This holiday was established by the United Nations and first celebrated in 1981.

So, take some time today to talk to your child about PEACE. Ask them what it means. Draw a peace sign. Ask your child to draw what they think peace looks like. Talk about what you can do together to celebrate. Read a book together that celebrates differences in the world.

And remember, every day is a day to walk together with peace in every step.

Peace Out!
xoxo
Kim

P.S. Don't you just love our Peace Hat? We do!!