The Five Strategies of The Virtues Project™ are simple but highly effective ways to bring out the best in our children and ourselves.
STRATEGY #2 : RECOGNIZE TEACHABLE MOMENTS
Compiled by Dara Feldman, Director of Education Initiatives & Master Facilitator, VPI
“In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or deescalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.”
— Haim Ginott
Recognizing the virtues needed in daily challenges helps us to become lifelong learners open to the lessons of character. There is no need for special classes on character. In fact, it is best if most lessons on virtue occur within the context of daily learning and living.
We can turn stumbling blocks into stepping-stones by taking personal responsibility to clear up mistakes, being open to learning from challenges and by replacing shaming with naming virtues.
Always remember that humility is the goal, not humiliation.
What gift of character are we really calling people to when we say…
- Stop your talking: Self-discipline
- Get back to work: Purposefulness
- Clean up this mess: Orderliness
- Don’t talk back to me: Respect
Rename and Reframe
- Think of a person you know whose behavior challenges you.
- Rename their basic character trait as a virtue: e.g. stubbornness = determination, talking back = honesty
- Identify a virtue you want to encourage them to practice.
- Put it in a positive sentence.
“Bart Simpson, that was very honest when you shared your opinion. How can you say that in a more respectful way?”
“Cinderella, I see your peacefulness and obedience. What will give you the confidence you need to attend the Prince’s ball?”
As children get older the teachable moments become more complicated and challenging.
Whether we are a parent or grandparent, teacher or coach, we all experience times of intense difficulty with teenage kids. We often get angry when they’re misbehaving, acting-out or being disrespectful. Those are the times we can choose detachment and PAUSE FOR THE CAUSE, and then offer positive guidance by naming the virtues needed in the moment.
“You missed the bus again?! (PAUSE) You’re at the age when you can set your alarm and take responsibility for getting to school on time.”
“I can see you are upset! (PAUSE) However, you can still choose courtesy when speaking to me.”
“Hey, you!!! (PAUSE) I understand you’re hungry and want to cut the lunch line. Please have consideration for the other students waiting in line.”
“Your actions leave me no choice but to expel you. (PAUSE) You are a powerful person. When you return to school, I encourage you to practice virtues such as respect and compassion to become a leader instead of acting like a bully.”
When we PAUSE FOR THE CAUSE to correct our kids’ behavior by inviting them to practice a virtue, we help them to further develop their innate qualities of character.
Teachable moments aren’t just about times of crisis.
Teachable moments include the times when we can acknowledge our kids making the right choices!
“I see your caring as you help your little sister with her puzzle.”
“I appreciate your gentleness as you softly pet the dog”.
“I notice you shared your favorite snack with your brother; I’m sure he is thankful for your generosity.”
“I could tell you were very angry at your friend for telling your secret. I want to honor you for choosing forgiveness.
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Special thanks to The Family Virtues Guide, by Linda Kavelin Popov with Dr. Dan Popov Ph.D., and John Kavelin, and The Virtues Project, a global grassroots initiative to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life.
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