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Reflections for Parents

on the Preschool Pledge of Nonviolence

From the Summer 2002 Newsletter

by Kathy McGinnis



Parenting a pre-schooler is a daunting task, filled with all kinds of opportunities for fun and laughter and for the building blocks for basic values.  Here are some self-questions for parents related specifically to the Preschool Pledge of Nonviolence


To Respect Myself and Others

  • Do I always use respectful and positive language with my children even when I am correcting them?

  • Do I do something each day to make my children feel good about themselves?

  • Do I point out their positive behavior more often than their negative behavior?

  • Do I give them lots of hugs and honest verbal praise?

  • Do I avoid running others down in front of my children?

To Say How I Feel

  • Do I label and express my feelings directly to my children: "I feel sad when this happens" or "I am so happy when..."?

  • Do I encourage my children to express their feelings -- verbally, through art work, through body language?

  • Do I work at positive, safe ways to express my anger?

  • Do I encourage my children to express their anger without hurting themselves, hurting others, or breaking things?

  • Have I begun a system, like a special family talk time or family meeting, where we work out problems as a whole family?

To Listen to Others

  • Do I take the time to really listen to my children and look at them when they are speaking to me?

  • Do I encourage them to stop and listen when someone is speaking to them?

  • Do I avoid letting the TV, radio, computer or reading material distract me from listening to my children?

To Forgive

  • Am I willing and able to tell my children "I'm sorry" when I have done something to hurt them?

  • Do my children witness me forgiving others?  Do I forgive them?

To Respect the Environment

  • Do my children observe me recycling, picking up litter, etc.?

  • Do we enjoy nature together, do we revel in the wonder of it?

  • Do we treat all living things with amazement and the utmost care?

To Play Safely

  • Do I have a number of active play possibilities for my children (e.g., firefighters, paramedics, animal rescuers, etc.) as alternatives to violent play?

  • Have I found ways to encourage the nonviolent developmental needs of children for power, strength and speed in their play?

  • Am I clear with my children about my own reasons for not buying violent toys for them?

To Be a Strong and Fair Friend

  • Do my children observe me standing up for others who are being put down in any way?

  • Do I look for opportunities to explain justice issues to my children in terms of what is fair to other people?

  • Am I conscious of building a respect for racial, cultural and religious diversity into our family life -- books, pictures, learning events, etc.

  • Do I consciously reject sex-role stereotyping in our language, selection of toys, and the activities I encourage my children to engage in?


Kathy McGinnis is director of the Institute for Peace and Justice and has done extensive peacemaking training throughout the U.S. for preschool educators.