I don't know any bad children. | Teaching Self-Government

I don't know any bad children.

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I don’t know any BAD children. Sure, there are children who make bad choices, but inside, those children all have a spark of goodness. Without this philosophy, I could have never decided to take foster children into my home. As soon as they arrived in my home I saw it as my job to find that spark, or flame of goodness and nurture it until it could win in the battle with evil for their souls.

When ever I see a new born baby, I am filled with warmth and sweetness. Babies carry a feeling with them of love and innocence which is unmatched by any other age person. They are good. They are perfect. Not one baby was born with an evil heart. We were all born with the desire to do good. As parents, we must trust in that divine power given to all people; the power to see goodness and desire it.

Gently teach your children what is expected and then trust that the goodness within will choose the right. Over the years I have heard parents say things like, “You wanted to get away with lying to me about getting your chore done…” ETC. These kinds of put words in your mouth and thoughts in your head accusations really bother me. These accusations show a complete lack of trust in the child’s innate desire to do good. Giving your child the positive benefit of the doubt would serve your relationship better.

It is impossible to know what another person thinks without them telling us. We can guess or assume certain things based upon behaviors, but we can never really know what someone is thinking until they tell us. With this understanding, it would be ignorant for us to make statements which say we know what someone is thinking or why someone did a certain behavior. The statement, “You wanted to get away with lying to me about getting your chore done…” suggests that the parent can read the mind of the child. It also tells the child that if the parent has a choice, the parent assumes the worst of the child. This parent obviously doesn’t trust in his child’s desire to choose goodness.

If a person feels he is not trusted to make any good choices why would he? He is left to assume he is bad, so he might as well just be that way. Why change? After a while most people who have embraced corruptness, start seeing their evil as good, because no one can handle feeling they are bad for too long. It is human nature to want to feel good about ourselves. This should tell us something about our natures. We want to be good. We started out being good. We can’t live with ourselves if we are bad for too long. We even go as far as making our bad qualities seem good, to make ourselves feel goodness. Everyone wants goodness; trust in that.

In a book called "The Charlotte Mason Companion" by Karen Andriola, there is a section on correcting children. In this section there is an illustration of a mother holding her child’s face in her hands. The mother is lovingly looking at her youngster while she corrects him. I love this picture. It is a beautiful illustration of trust.  The eyes are the window to the soul. By gently holding the face and looking into the eyes of the child, the mother is showing she trusts the goodness in the child’s soul. She is, in essence looking straight into that goodness while she instructs or corrects her child.

I was so impressed by this powerful illustration that I immediately put the principle into practice in my home. I started trusting the God given goodness in all of my family members. I started assuming that my children are usually trying to do good, and sometimes along the way they make a mistake or their good intentions get confused. When my young child comes to me to tell me something I often take his chubby little cheeks into my hands and look right into his heart through his eyes while he is speaking to me. Likewise, when I want to give him correction or instruction, I often do the same behavior. The place I want to touch and feel most of all is the heart of my child. That is where the goodness is and that is were my goodness can be felt.

After I give an instruction, it is up to the child to choose to do good. However, because I have taken the time to show by action and by voice tone that I completely trust my child’s desire to choose goodness she doesn’t think of choosing any other way. Occasionally, my child will become lazy or emotional about a task that needs to be done. At this point, I lovingly correct the behavior. I don’t loose trust in their goodness. They still have the same goodness inside. I simply help them refocus and teach them cause and effect by having them follow through with whatever negative consequence they have earned.

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