Silence the Violence

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by Janine Rees

Tuesday 3rd February 2016

Our Homes and our Schools need to be VIOLENCE FREE ZONES!

Imagine a world where everyone is treated with respect. Where everyone is truly equal. I believe this is entirely possible. This utopian society begins in our homes and in our schools and it starts with our communication skills. We need to speak to each other respectfully at all times; adult to adult, adult to child, child to adult and child to child. As Gandhi said… “Be the change you wish to see in the world!”

As a teacher and a parent I have learnt over the years that yelling at our children just does not work! When we lose our temper and scream and yell we are a very poor example to those in our care. How wonderful for our children if parents and teachers united to stop the yelling. Yelling in anger at someone is a form of violence, you are using a violent behaviour to prove that you are the more powerful one. You are also displaying the fact that you have poor self-control. Anger is an entirely natural human emotion but we as adults need to take charge of our emotions and use our self-control to direct those emotions into appropriate behaviour. I’m not saying it’s easy. It can be extremely difficult at times and can take great effort, but imagine the difference if all of our homes and schools were VIOLENCE FREE ZONES. Zero physical and verbal violence.

So how do we do it?

STEP 1: Make a vow that your home, classroom or school will be a VIOLENCE FREE ZONE; that you as an adult are going to model appropriate behaviour. Next time you feel the urge to yell and scream, take note and say to yourself… I can feel an eruption coming on and I’m going to remove myself before I hit half way on the eruption scale. Just a few minutes of stepping away from the situation will help.

STEP 2: Try and pinpoint the exact reason you’re angry. Is it that you slept in and now you don’t have enough time to get ready for school and work? Is it that you’ve spent the morning on Facebook, your kids have watched TV all morning and you’ve lost track of time? Is it that the kids went to bed too late and now they are they are tired? Are they not listening to your instructions on how to get ready? Whatever the reason you need to be completely honest with yourself and own it. If the kids are not following your instructions then maybe they have difficulty following verbal instructions or you may need to write a checklist or reteach them the morning procedures. Whatever the problem there is a solution, but it will probably take some effort on everyone’s behalf.

STEP 3: After you’ve worked out what it is you were angry about and (most importantly) you’ve calmed down, you need to communicate your feelings. For example, “Can I speak to you about something important to me? I was getting quite upset before because I’d reminded you three times to brush your teeth and it seemed to me like you were ignoring me. If we are late to school and work then we disrupt the OTHERS who have made an effort to be there on time and that’s not fair.” Give your child the chance to respond and hopefully you will have a jumping off point to remedy the situation.

STEP 4: Make a plan of how to move forward immediately or schedule a time to discuss future improvement. You may need to say, “we haven’t got time to discuss how to improve this problem right now but when we get home tonight let’s make a plan together of how to work on this.” Most of all try to remain calm.

If we were to break it down more concisely:

  1. Notice we are angry and remove ourselves momentarily to think and calm down.
  2. Identify and own the honest reason for our anger.
  3. Discuss how the behaviour affects us and may affect others and really listen to the response.
  4. Make a plan.

Yelling, abusing, belittling, humiliating and manipulating are all violent behaviours and using violence is never an option. Initially, taking the respectful communication path may be more time consuming than screaming and yelling and scaring people into action but in the long run it is well worth the effort. It can be hard work but the more you practice communicating respectfully the easier it becomes. We are then showing our children that they are worth our respect and it teaches them to treat others with respect. How wonderful it would be if all parents and teachers vowed to SILENCE THE VIOLENCE!

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