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Virtues Parenting

post #1 of 186
Thread Starter 
Has anyone heard of the Virtues Project?

I am exploring the Virtues (things like repect, tolerence, gentleness, peacefulness, generosity) in conjunction with how we teach our children to handle themselves in relation to the rest of the world, including family, etc, often. There is a non-denominational movement called the "Virtues Project" that encompasses 52 basic Virtues for Humanity and is being employed in 86 countries. Facilitators guide folks in using the Virtues in various aspects of life... the school, church, and home are not the only places, now... even some corporations use the models for training and team-building.

I recently began teaching in a pre-k through middle-school-age Virtues-Project Summer Day Camp. Wow. The principles I'm learning and the way they are immediately applicable to everyday parenting and conflicts is just AMAZING. I haven't been on for a couple months, and have only begun to really apply the Virtues Teaching, but this is just too good not to share.

Check out this link for the Five Basic Strategies used in the Virtues Project.

Quote:
Virtues-The Gifts of Character: Love. Kindness. Justice. Service. The virtues are the very meaning and purpose of our lives. They are universally valued by people of all faiths and cultures. We seek ways to renew and deepen our connection with the values that give direction to our lives. We strive to mentor our children and to build safe and caring schools and communities.

The mission of The Virtues Project is to provide empowering strategies that inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life.
Ultimately, it's up to us how we apply the Virtues to parenting. There is a lot of material, ideas, suggestions, and guidence on the topic.

One of the practices we are using in Virtues Camp is a progression meant to manage conflicts in a group of children... and I find it works nicely one on one in the home or with mulitple children... siblings, etc. The Courtesy Corner (at our house it is the Listening Spot, or Meditation or Refelcetion Time) is a place away from the action, maybe with a couple of pillows, or something, meant for one having a problem (sometimes, at home, it's me...) using Virtues (or as we call them "the hidden gems within" or gifts of character) to find resolutions or handle conflicts. Upon observation that one is struggling to find an appropriate resolution to a conflict, the individual is guided to, recommended or instructed to spend some time away from the group or activity to reflect on the Virtue they were having a hard time with. For example, if a child is having a hard time with Gentlness (striking friends, or being too rough with toys, etc), then he or she would be given a book or some cards with pictures/writings on Gentleness. When the child believes he or she is ready to "use his or her Gentleness" then that child is cheerfully welcomed back.

When behaviors escallate as they sometimes do, we use a Courtesy Room, at our Camp, which is removed from the group or activity, where the teacher or a helper (or mom, at home, etc) has a one on one about the Virtues in question... using the Gentleness example again, here, the 'facilitator' would ask open-ended guiding questions about the conflict and the Virtue of Gentleness, enabling the child to arrive at some conclusions regarding his or her behavior and what Virtue we can use to resolve the conflict. At the Camp, there is a final step involving the Courtesy Walk, where a child is patiently escorted to a parent and the parent or helper (or parent is called) and this adult reflects with the child until an accord has been reached regarding the behavior and choices are made jointly about participation.

This is becoming a life-changing experience.

I welcome ANY questions or comments from folks who have anything to add on the topic of the Virtues Project and using the Virtues in parenting... We try to practice CL with our 3.5 yo, and sometimes that age can be very testing with CL... we use the Love and Logic modality too, which has some Virtues Project in it, or maybe it's Love and Logic in the Virtues... I am finding this model works so well with so many of the approaches regularly discussed here! Sincerely, there are moments where I wonder how I thought I could approach CL, UP and GD without them in my regular language.

I am anxious to learn more and would love to have questions from others to guide my own exploration of this methodology.
post #2 of 186
Thread Starter 
Cultivate Virtue in Yourself and Virtue will be Real...
Cultivate Virtue in the Family and Virtue will Flourish...
Cultivate Virtue in the Village and Virtue will Spread...
Cultivate Virtue in the Nation and Virtue will be Abundant...
Cultivate Virtue in the World and Virtue will Triumph Everywhere.


~Lao Tsu
post #3 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrennaMama View Post
We try to practice CL with our 3.5 yo, and sometimes that age can be very testing with CL... we use the Love and Logic modality too, which has some Virtues Project in it, or maybe it's Love and Logic in the Virtues... .
Thank for sharing your experience. Could you talk about how living consensually is lined up with the kinds of interactions described in Love and Logic?
post #4 of 186
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chfriend View Post
Thank for sharing your experience. Could you talk about how living consensually is lined up with the kinds of interactions described in Love and Logic?
I'm not sure, personally, that L&L interactions described in their material neccessarily do line up with living consensually, at least on the surface. However I believe that if one is keeping consensuality in the heart of his or her parenting, then L&L provides some excellent tools to use therein.

What I can speak to is how the Virtues program falls in with the principles underlying both of these approaches.

My take on Love and Logic is that it centers around allowing children freedom to be a person who makes mistakes, learning from those mistakes (natural consequences), and enabling more informed decisions the next time around based on what they learned. The parent in the L&L model keeps reaffirming his or her love for the child, instead of getting caught up in a power struggle. Children are in a special position where they often feel powerless, and thus test for power... or a voice. "How much power do I actually have? How much of a vote do I have?" L&L seems to create a behavioral platform for the parents, so as to guide parents in their navigation of these testing times. Many parents benefit from having some verbage to pull from, rather than free-styling and possibly reverting to old habits, or pathways their own parents may have erroniuosly taken.

Consensual Living has an approach that in my opinion has the same goal as L&L. Here is a quote from the CL Website that outlines the philosophy briefly...
Quote:
Consensual living is a process, a philosophy, a mindset by which we seek to live in harmony with our families and community. It involves finding mutually agreed upon solutions, where the needs of both parties are not only considered but addressed. Everyone’s wants and needs are equally valid, regardless of age. Conflicting wants or needs are discussed and mutually agreeable solutions are created or negotiated which meet the underlying needs of all parties.
We try to use L&L in our CL by not getting too caught up in dd's power-testing... we hear her voice, teaching respect by showing respect, and also teach self-respect by setting healthy boundaries with her. I don't mean we have a bunch of arbitrary rules and consequences. I mean that if dd (or anyone else including dh and strangers) makes a choice that crosses my personal boundaries I am not afraid to tell her about my personal boundary, and work with her to understand and come up with a solution we can both live with.

The Virtues program adds that verbage I referred to earlier, and supports the consensual life-style by acknowledging children as competent individuals who possess the tools to handle a variety of situations... asking parents and teachers to help a child see those tools and get used to accessing them within.

For example, sneaking into my purse to get lip-stick (she is totally into make-up right now ) is something we have been facing lately. I caught dd getting into my purse, pulling everything out, etc... pulling from the Faber-Mazlish How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids WIll Talk approach, I immediately owned my feelings, "I have a problem with people getting into my purse..." Then I went on using L&L by setting a boundary "...Please don't get into my purse without asking me first." And then I shared the Virtue she may be needing guidence in: "When you ask first, that's called being Considerate. Please use your consideration, Dd." Then I asked her to think of a way to resolve the situation so we can both feel good about it. When she got frustrated that she couldn't just go at it in my purse, I reaffirmed that I love her too much to argue with her about my preferences, and let her know I will gladly talk with her about other choices when she wants to talk to me lovingly... like I am talking to her. She stomped off, sulked for a minute, and came back with a hug, an apology, and a polite request to play with my make-up. I said "I am so happy that you're using Consideration! You really thought about it! After I finish what I am doing, I would be glad to play make-up with you..."

Here is a List of Virtues from the Family Virtues Guide, and a quote:
Quote:
Consideration
Consideration is being thoughtful of other people and their feelings. You consider how your actions affect them. You pay careful attention to what others like and don’t like, and do things that give them happiness.
I would feel comfortable in that interaction, knowing I honored her person, treated her with repsect, and still set a boundary that worked for me too.

Some folks disagree with or have trouble with CL because it seems to "give away power" but by no means, in my opinion, is CL meant to eliminate anyone's preferences... Parental boundaries and preferences don't cease to exist just because we create a consensual environment where our children have a voice. Rather the consensual parent is challenged to examine and communicate his or her boundaries in a healthy manner that allows for mutually agreeable solutions.

Thank you for your question! I was able to do some research and find information (that I shared in the form of links here) that increased my understanding and helped me bridge CL, L&L, and the VP in a way I hadn't examined until now.
post #5 of 186
Thread Starter 
Just bumping this back up... I think someone may find this thread of value... and I am eager to research more. I did a search of the forum, and accidentally bumped into a thread I had posted on over a year ago, when I first learned about the Virtues Project, and using virtues in my language as a parent. Funny... a year ago I was advising folks to give it a try and then had a few months where I lost my way, and forgot to stick to it. Then here I am back at it.

It has changed the map of our home-communication.

When we get ready to go somewhere, like say Nana's house, or the Children's Museum, I ask dd. "What virtues do you think we should use there?" My 3.5yo usually comes up with at least: Kindness, patience, helpfulness, and friendliness.
post #6 of 186
i think it sounds interesting. i'd love to hear more examples of how you use it day to day, including introducing the concepts to children that may not be familiar with them (as such).
post #7 of 186
This sounds interesting and something my dd might respond to-we already use a lot of "our house is a place of peace and we talk to each other respectfully"... although that only works when she is in the right mood-we are knee deep in being disrespectful around here and I am really trying to figure out how to change her attitude because its getting really hard to enjoy being with her lately
post #8 of 186
Thread Starter 
There are three basic parts to virtues parenting...
  1. Virtues Language
  2. Virtues Acknowledgement
  3. What is known as Spirirtual Companioning, or deep, aware, open-ended listening.

Virtues language begins by introducing the language, the verbage into everyday dialogue. This can be done using visual and even tactile tools, for younger children. There are Virtues Flash cards with a pic on one side and a brief description of the Virtue depicted and then a more in-depth explanation on the back, or you can make cards with your child, using the project as a means to converse about the virtues. Introducing the virtues as "hidden gems within" helps too. Like tools in a tool-box, we take out the virtues we need when we need 'em. We're working on a virtues chart in our place, where Prenna gets to pick the virtues she wants to work on and when we see her using them without being reminded or asked, we acknowledge and she can go get a sticker to put in that spot... She also just likes having gotten to be a part of coming up with the House Virtues (like house rules...)

Prenna and I talk about the virtues a lot... and it has been about 18 mo of talking pretty regularly about them. She is used to me pointing out when she wasn't using virtues, and asking how she might do things differently and what virtue could have been and will be used in the future.

Also, I understand the part about "when he or she is calm, then he or she responds well to logic..." But how do we calm them down??

Calm and peacefulness may be the best virtues to start with.

It has helped to create a place where she can calm down and reflect. In our house, it's called the listening spot. I dislike naughty chairs and time-outs... I call time out when I need one... not for punative reasons. And I think anything that designates a child as naughty will only perpetuate that behavior... So I'd rather perpetuate listening. I sit in the listening spot when I need to, too! When she would flip out (as she still sometimes does) I would tell Prenna, "I see you're having a hard time being calm and in control... I can't understand you and won't be part of this til you have calmed down... would you like help calming down?" Then I sit with her in the listening spot, and we close our eyes, palms up, hands resting on our laps, and take deep breaths. "Tell me when you feel ready to try talking again..." I have had to walk away and let her find her own way to calm down, she says "relaxing it down..."

Virtues acknowledgement is about pointing out the virtues you see being used... ALL THE TIME. The more the better. I'm forever showing gratitude to Prenna and acknowledging her for using her helpfulness, her peacefulness, her thoughfulness, her courtesy... and it's a good way to intro and acclimate kids to the language... "Hey, I noticed you remembered to turn off the light without being asked. That's what I call responsibility." "I saw you give that little one his shoe after it fell off his foot... that was very thoughtful and considerate of you."

*This isn't praise, but acknowledgement.* No "good job!" Just, "I noticed that you did x,y,z, without being asked, that's called ______"

And Spiritual Companioning is all about listening without assigning judgement or blame... say two little ones have a conflict, and one hits or in some other way hurts the other. The virtues parent responds first to the "victim" by acknowledging the "offense"... "I see you're very upset..." and follows up with an open-ended question "What happened?" It is important to keep it as open-ended as possible. Don't try to anticipate answers or predict out-comes. Then, the "perpetrator" is aksed the same open-ended questions... "What do you think happened?" Ideally, in this way, one can move to "What virtues do you guys think were missing? How can we keep this from happening again? Can we do anything now, are there virtues we can use now to make this better for you (us) both?"

It takes some time to get used to and you may get some odd looks... but usually that's just the surprise people feel seeing you speak to child a in a calm, respectful, and loving manner that allows them to arrive at conclusions regarding their own behavior... making a child a part of this process so beats the admonishing cycle. They really respond to it.

Like anything else, at first, it's new and awkward... and the kids notice something is afoot. They notice that we're not totally confident in our new approach... so rather than faking it and hoping for the best, incorporate that into the new apporach... "I want you to know that I am ready to have a peaceful reltaionship with you, and I'm going to show you more respect... I think we can learn a lot from each other about kindness and love, respect and compassion. But I'm new at this, so I hope you will be patient with me."
post #9 of 186
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post #10 of 186
Thread Starter 
Here's an article that I received today... I loved how it isn't directly related to the VP, but mentions virtuousness...
Quote:
:: Rethinking Consistency ::

Conventional parenting wisdom states that parents
need to "be consistent" in order to maintain their
authority.

Flexible parents -- those who are willing to take in
new information and adjust course on the fly -- are
given labels like wishy-washy, spineless, jellyfish,
waffling, and that shame of shames: permissive!

But isn't flexibility a virtuous trait? Isn't
flexibility needed to thrive in the complex,
fast-changing world of the 21st century?

So if somebody suggests that you should be more
"consistent" tell them you *are* being consistent...

* I'm consistently flexible.
* I'm consistently following my heart.
* I'm consistently trusting my instincts.
* And my love is consistently unconditional.

http://dailygroove.net/consistency

Feel free to forward this message to your friends!
(Please include this paragraph and everything above.)
Copyright (c) 2008 by Scott Noelle


"Inspiration & Coaching for Progressive Parents"
http://www.ScottNoelle.com
http://www.EnjoyParenting.com
Sometimes I say to Prenna, "WIl you please use your flexibility?" She said the other day, "It's hard to be flexibile Mom... but I'll try."
post #11 of 186
I rec'd that article this morning after signing up for the newsletter yesterday per your suggestion. It really is great to help "put you in the frame of mind" every day just by reading something inspirational-so thank you, Prennamama!! You have really been helpful to me these past few days. I think I am turning a corner.

We had a great morning this morning-we had friends coming over for a late breakfast-so I was sweeping the leaves off the deck this morning before they came over and talking to K about virtues while I was doing it We are starting to lay the groundwork for it and it feels really good.
post #12 of 186
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pumpkinseed View Post
I rec'd that article this morning after signing up for the newsletter yesterday per your suggestion. It really is great to help "put you in the frame of mind" every day just by reading something inspirational-so thank you, Prennamama!! You have really been helpful to me these past few days. I think I am turning a corner.

We had a great morning this morning-we had friends coming over for a late breakfast-so I was sweeping the leaves off the deck this morning before they came over and talking to K about virtues while I was doing it We are starting to lay the groundwork for it and it feels really good.
::

It does feel good doesn't it? There's something uplifting about having a new tool in the tool-box.
post #13 of 186
You have inspired me. I feel lke I have lost my way, yesterday was a particularly rough day, one that I don't feel good about. When I opened your post, it really spoke to me. I'm more on the L&L side (in a gentle way) than the CL side, but it's odd, I'm searching for help and I went to a CL website. I'm ordering the book and have combed the VP website looking for information. I'll let you know how it goes. Thank you!!!
post #14 of 186
I have done the first level of training for the Virtues Project and believe it has some wonderful things to offer families.

There is a book geared towards families put out by the Virtues Project - it is a great resource. We also use the cards in different situations with our children. The school my children attend uses the Virtues Program as well - the kids all love it!
post #15 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shantimama View Post
I have done the first level of training for the Virtues Project and believe it has some wonderful things to offer families.
Where do you do the training? Are you training as a facilitator?
post #16 of 186
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I love this. I just found it this morning and it just seems to have struck a chord with me. I just wish dh, who is nowhere near this thought, would check it out.
post #17 of 186
Thanks for reminding me of this! I have The Virtues Guide that my fil gave me to me about 13 years ago. I have always found it to be really helpful and positive. I just got it out and plan to get back into using it. Not that I don't encourage virtues but I just hadn't been doing anything out of the book for quite a long time. This is perfect timing.
Wendi
post #18 of 186
THis sounds really interesting I'm sure I'll have questions when I'm done researching.
Whats love and light? when I googled it the first thing to come up for me was this thread so not much use really lol.

Tia!
post #19 of 186
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mom22girls View Post
You have inspired me. I feel lke I have lost my way, yesterday was a particularly rough day, one that I don't feel good about. When I opened your post, it really spoke to me. I'm more on the L&L side (in a gentle way) than the CL side, but it's odd, I'm searching for help and I went to a CL website. I'm ordering the book and have combed the VP website looking for information. I'll let you know how it goes. Thank you!!!
Good luck!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shantimama View Post
I have done the first level of training for the Virtues Project and believe it has some wonderful things to offer families.

There is a book geared towards families put out by the Virtues Project - it is a great resource. We also use the cards in different situations with our children. The school my children attend uses the Virtues Program as well - the kids all love it!
Hooray! I'm so glad I'm not alone in checking out the the VP... I've never done any formal training, just have a knack with teaching so the core group of teachers in our community asked me to be part of the camp... it was trial by (gentle) fire.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mum21andtwins View Post
THis sounds really interesting I'm sure I'll have questions when I'm done researching.
Whats love and light? when I googled it the first thing to come up for me was this thread so not much use really lol.

Tia!
L&L is Love and Logic, which is a parenting/teaching modality.
post #20 of 186
52 seems like an awful big task -- like I'd be setting myself up for disappointment....
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