What the world needs now is peace, sweet peace. As families, it’s time to activate our potential as peacekeepers on the home front, and then actively take our home-grown peace out into the world. If every family strives for harmony at home, the world will become a calmer, more soothing place.
Creating peace at home is a good guiding principle if you want to set a healthy example for your kids of how to let go of the things you cannot change while taking charge of the things you can impact.
For a moment, forget about what others are doing or not doing to keep the peace out there in the big wide world, and focus on what you can do in your own backyard instead. Here are eight ideas to get you started.
1. Guard Against Media Overload.
Monitor family media exposure, especially during times of scary news broadcasts or upsetting continual updates. Turn off televisions and radios when children are around. Get kids off the internet and away from hand-held devices. Silence your cell phone notifications. Tumultuous times are a good time to revert to old-fashioned fun like reading a book, playing a board game, or going for a family walk. If a crisis is not affecting your family directly, don’t let the news cycle hijack your day and cause your family unnecessary stress.
2. Cultivate Family Peace Practices.
When my daughter is upset or agitated, her go-to calming activity is a nice warm shower or bath. For mild upsets or just general distracted behavior, her signing practice comforts and centers her. Drawing is an old friend she can return to time after time to wind down before bed. Find practices that work for each family member. One child may prefer to read a book while another may wish to do something physical to get grounded. Adopt whatever works for each family member.
3. Process Disappointments As They Happen.
Your child may experience a loss and you may not be aware of it. My daughter seemed to be displaying uncharacteristic behavior until I was able to trace the source of it back to a recent disappointment she’d experienced at school. We often cajole our kids to “be a good sport” without giving them a chance to fully express their feelings. In this case, I was able to seek out some feedback and closure from the teacher involved in the incident. My daughter had a little cry, admitted that she was more disappointed than she had let on, and was back to her old cheerful self within a few hours.
4. Bless People In Crisis.
Peacefulness is contagious. Don’t over-think this. Beam peace at agitated people you encounter. Simply send calm energy to others and assume they got it. Send positive thoughts, a prayer, or a wish for all good things across the miles. Write down positive words and people’s names you’d on little pieces of paper and place them in a ‘peace box’ of your own creation. Imagine your good intentions spraying out into the world like a giant fountain. Positivity makes a difference, especially for the givers.
5. Make A Small Difference.
Keep a coin jar out and fill it with loose change. When a crisis occurs, make a donation to support intervention. On an ongoing basis, give what you can to help those in need in your community. Share leftover pantry items with your local food bank and old clothes or belongings with non-profit thrift shops. Feel good about steadily being part of the solution however your family feels called.
6. Spread Joy.
Refuse to give in to cynicism. Put a positive bumper sticker on your car. Put out a colorful flag on your porch. Add a birdbath or fountain to your yard. Have at least one reminder of world peace in each room of your home. Believe in a more peaceful world and do your part to make it happen. Inspirational quotes glimpsed on the way out the door can inspire your family to new heights of understanding each and every day.
7. Memorialize Losses.
Unexpressed grief is like a ticking time bomb driving people to act out in ways they might not otherwise. Take a look back at major losses in your family (and even your childhood) and ask yourself if you have adequately acknowledged your suffering. If not, it’s not too late. Ask your spouse the same questions. Then ask your kids. Make sure you are not trying to protect your kids from feelings of loss that are a natural part of being human. Never brush off grief—yours or anyone else’s. Come up with creative ways to commemorate major losses in your family and you will help your loved ones move through feelings of sadness and loss so everyone can move on.
8. Live In Today.
Anxiety is triggered by focusing on the past or the future at the expense of the moment. We can’t control what happened yesterday and we are not at fault for things beyond our control out in the world. However, home base can always be an oasis of calm, cool collectedness. We can make the world a more peaceful place if we are peacebuilders before we walk out the door. So cultivate tranquility at home, and bring that attitude with you out into the world. If you do, your children will follow in your footsteps.
When Tragedy Strikes Too Close To Home
1. Stay calm, cool, and collected.
2. Steer clear of overly dramatic influences.
3. Protect your children from too much media exposure.
4. Discuss what happened with your family in simple terms.
5. Let family members express how the crisis makes them feel.
6. Take time to send positivity to those affected.
7. Show love to your family and hug them close.
8. Take a constructive action, like making a donation, if you can.
9. Attend group events like memorial services or vigils if this feels helpful. Consider dividing the family into two groups and letting one group attend and one group stay home, as needed.
10. Commemorate those who have been affected by a crisis with a safety candle or by displaying a flower.
11. If kids seem shaken or stuck, encourage them to share feelings by writing a letter to those affected by the crisis.
12. Seek professional support if anyone in your family has been deeply affected by a traumatic event.
13. Keep life simple. Go about routines slowly and mindfully. Avoid rushing.
14. Share gratitude you feel. Appreciate little things. Be kind to yourself and others.