The Five Strategies of The Virtues ProjectTM are practices that bring the virtues to life. They help us raise great kids, and to create a culture of character in our schools and communities.
1: SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF THE VIRTUES
Language shapes character. The way we speak and the words we use, have great power to discourage or to inspire.
Our language has great power to influence the lives of others. Whether telling a baby how patient she has been, waiting to be fed, or encouraging a bullying teen to tap into his compassion, giving performance feedback to an employee, or telling someone what we love about them, language is a mirror of how we value others.
Language is also the vehicle of thought. Peace Pilgrim, a woman who walked across America for the cause of peace, said, “If we knew how powerful our thoughts were, we would never again have another negative thought.”
When our words are weighty, we need to weigh our words. And they always are. The language of virtues helps us to replace shaming and blaming with personal responsibility and respect. It is a frame of reference for bringing out the best in each other. It helps us to become the kind of people we want to be.
2: RECOGNIZE TEACHABLE MOMENTS
As a Tlingit elder said, “Life is for learning our lessons.” Recognizing the virtues we can develop in any situation is an empowering practice that leads to lifelong learning.
In raising children, we need to avoid shaming and instead be naming virtues. Rather than name-calling, we call on the virtues of their character. When they argue, we don’t call them “stubborn”; we call them to cooperation or respect. When they show improvement of any kind, we notice that glimmer of virtue, and acknowledge it. In this way we become mentors, rather than tormentors.
Recognizing the gifts and life lessons in our daily challenges helps us to cultivate our character. We use guilt only as a signal for change, not as a lifestyle! When we have the humility and confidence to learn from our mistakes, they become our best teachers. Every stumbling block becomes a stepping-stone.
3: SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES
Boundaries keep us safe. Virtues-based boundaries focus on respect, restorative justice, and reparation to create a climate of peace and safety, in our relationships, at home, in school, and in the community. Personal boundaries help us to build healthy relationships, and protect our time, our energy and our health.
Children feel safe when they know where the boundaries are. We tell them what we DO want, not what we don’t want. So, family ground rules or boundaries need to be positively worded virtues statements such as, “We use peaceful language, even when we are upset.” Every family needs four or five ground rules or agreements, at any age and stage.
This IS the time of our lives. We need to design it well. Boundaries help us to live the good life.
4: HONOR THE SPIRIT
This strategy begins with respect for the dignity of each person and encourages us to make time for reflection, reverence, and beauty. It is expressing what is meaningful in our lives by participating in the arts, honoring special life events, and sharing our stories with each other.
Creating Vision Statements increases unity and morale in our homes, schools and workplaces. Many people who are Virtues Project enthusiasts have a daily practice of a virtues pick, using Virtues Reflection Cards or Family Virtues Cards or even the Virtues Card phone app.
Many schools around the world foster strong school spirit with virtues bulletin boards, choosing a virtue of the month to practice, and creating skits and songs for assemblies.
5: OFFER COMPANIONING
One of the greatest gifts we have to give is our presence — our compassionate, attentive listening. It is a form of sacred curiosity. By being deeply present and listening with both compassion and detachment, we help others to empty their cup.
This counseling approach empowers others to discern teachable moments and to reflect on their virtues. It supports moral choice, intimacy in relationships, and peaceful conflict resolution. When we companion, we never ask “why?” We use open-ended cup emptying questions starting with “What” and “How”. We always end with a Virtues Acknowledgment, which helps to restore someone who has been vulnerable enough to share openly.
Companioning is a powerful tool for healing grief, anger, and trauma.
FIVE WAYS TO RAISE GREAT KIDS. AND ONE EXCUSE FOR WHY WE DON’T.
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For more information contact Scott Feraco.