Prudence-Stop and Think
“What happened?” It is that simple. If it is a first-time offender, it might take a while for them to talk. The mind is racing. I can almost see it. Taking in the emotion of “being sent to the office,” and the trauma of having your day go upside down and sideways can make kids clam up. That’s okay. They are thinking and, by taking the time to think, we are already making progress. When a student is sent to my office, I do not like to know why the student is there. It is best if we begin the conversation with an open heart and mind. What the student is thinking about is: what did I do wrong and what is the right thing to do. They are using the common sense that they have learned from their parents. Most of the time, the child can figure out their big mistake as they are explaining “what happened” to me.
When we raise our children, we spend the time it takes to keep them safe, to make reading a part of their day, to feed them healthy food, to give them love and patience; we are giving them the gift of Prudence. Prudence is a Cardinal virtue under the theological virtue of faith, love and hope. The virtue of Prudence gives us independence. This resonates with many parents because we want our children to be independent and be able to make good decisions for themselves as they grow and mature. But raising independent children takes a lot of parenting and sometimes we are not sure how to handle our child’s confusing behavior.
What were you thinking? Emotions are often magnified and reasoning seems to disappear as children grow and have more experiences. Children can be impulsive and have less self-control some days and be perfectly obedient on other days. Why? Because the brain undergoes its most dramatic growth spurts in our early years. Children’s brains are under constant stimulus and thought patterns are being challenged by what they see, hear, feel and endure. Children are truly practicing the thinking skills and decision making skills that they will use through adulthood. But, until the project is completed, the brain fritzes and sputter, which can result in intense emotional outbursts and a temporary loss of logic. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705203/
Prudence is the answer. It is our job to give good counsel. Teaching children virtues builds your relationship with them. They will trust that you know struggles happen as they grow but you can teach them patience, self-control, courtesy- the list goes on. Being prudent means that children will develop common sense, right from wrong, and they will choose to do the right thing.
Anne Atkin, principal