Raising Peaceful Adults in an Anxious World
Recently on a Saturday morning I attended a seminar, “Growing Up Peaceful.” As an over-50 mom, I have a growing list of families for whom I pray with deep compassion. Among these, many are struggling to understand why their child has panic attacks or cannot show up consistently for a class or job. A child struggling with anxiety or depression is a common concern. As a mother (and future grandmother!), I strive to be aware of how I can make a difference in the life of my children and their friends.
As I listened to the presentation, I was surprised and pleased to find that many of the seminar’s solutions mirror the educational philosophy and practice of Charlotte Mason. One therapy for anxiety is to engage one or more of the five senses. This distracts an anxious mind by helping the child to “stop and smell the roses.” When one sees beauty in nature or hears the sounds of the autumn leaves crunching beneath his feet on a walk, the constant inner voice in his mind is quieted as he attends to beauty in the natural world around him.
These are the everyday habits of Ambleside students when they go outside for recess, paint flora and fauna during nature study, or listen to a symphony in composer study.
Opportunities for self-assessment arise when a student is asked to consider God’s command to love one’s neighbor, or as each one interacts with God’s presence during Lectio Divina. These habits of thinking about the work of one’s heart, mind, and hands transfer to academic work as well. Students are accustomed to assessing their weaknesses in math, accuracy in spelling, and thoroughness in copy work. With the goal being towards mastery in a variety of subjects, the teacher is continually instructing to engage the mind and inform the will to form the heart.
Most adults and teachers tend to tell children what to think and not to worry. The seminar emphasized this does not help the child with an anxious-brain. Instead, a child needs to attune with a peaceful presence through a caring, empathetic adult, and then be encouraged and supported to take the next steps. What an Ambleside teacher does, in attunement and in staying with the child as they experience good struggle, is exactly what the psychologist doctor ordered! I am grateful! I have seen the results of this practice in the peacefulness in our family life and hope that others will be drawn to this beautiful and healthy way to learn and to live.
Debra Christenson, Board Member/Former Parent
Taken from Ambleside School International’s Spring 2019 edition of Flourish