Raising Peacebuilders

The United Nations, which started the International Day of Peace in 1982, encourages people to become “peacebuilders” rather than peacemakers or peacekeepers. What’s the difference?

Peacebuilders work to create a long-term culture of peace. Peacemakers and peacekeepers tend to focus on the short term and often only on a specific conflict. Peacebuilding can often seem overly complicated to do. Yet, even small children know how to create peace.

“Peace begins with a smile,” Mother Teresa said. Kids understand the power of a smile. They’ve seen their smiles transform others and the space they are in. Imagine what our world would be like if more of us smiled.

What a smile! Brighten someone’s day, and send this photo as an e-card >

To start raising kids who advocate for peace, ask your kids these questions:

• What do the kids your age tend to fight about?
• Why do you think they fight about these things?
• What do you see the world fighting about?
• What does fighting do?
• Is fighting every necessary? If so, when? If not, why not?
• When have you seen someone acting in peaceful ways?
• What calms you down when you’re upset?
• How do you stand up for peace while standing up for what you believe in?

Research also says that peacebuilding is important. Four of the 40 Developmental Assets focus on peacebuilding. Asset #36 is about peaceful conflict resolution. Asset #35 is about resistance skills. Asset #26 is about caring, and asset #9 is about service to others. Learn more about Developmental Assets and the research behind ParentFurther >

Remember that peacebuilding isn’t about letting others take advantage of you. True peacebuilders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, and Mahatma Gandhi showed us all how to stand up for strong principles in the name of peace.

On September 21, the International Day of Peace, consider doing peacebuilding activities with your kids. Here are some easy ideas:

• Have your kids create artwork with the theme of peace. Learn more about the Peace Pals International Arts Exhibition Awards for kids ages 5 to 16 at http://www.wppspeacepals.org. (The deadline is usually at the end of July, so make art for your home this year and consider having your kids enter the competition next year.)

• Make pinwheels for peace. Visit http://www.pinwheelsforpeace.com.

• Plant a rock for peace. Visit http://www.plantingrocksforpeace.org.

• Make a huge peace dove. Visit http://www.rootsandshoots.org/campaigns/dove.

• Read books about peace together. Check out: The Peace Book by Todd Parr (for ages 2-8), Peace One Day by Jeremy Gilley (for ages 4-8), Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World by Jane Breskin Zalben (for ages 9-12), or Great Peacemakers by Ken Beller (ages 10 to adult).

Too often adults and kids can feel that peacebuilding is out of their hands. Yet, everyone can promote, advocate, and create peace. The way you treat yourself can create peace. The way you treat others can create peace. The way you live can create peace. Teach your kids these empowering paths to peace.

Tell Us:——> How do you create peace in your daily life?

1. International Day of Peace.

2. 40 Developmental Assets, ParentFurther.

3. Image via Srqpix on Flick’r.

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I really love this encouragement to harness the energy that our children already have. They know they can change the world, it is up to us to lend them the support and know-how they need to do it!

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