The word persuade has its root in two Latin words: suadere meaning to advise, recommend, or urge, and per meaning thorough. To advise others is to give them a new perspective, to present information from a viewpoint not previously considered. For parents, persuasion can be a powerful tool for helping children learn to make the right choices.
Our natural desire for approval is strong and motivates a wide range of behavior. When we recognize the positive actions our children take and praise them for such behaviors, it can persuade them to continue doing what is right.
Male peacocks employ persuasion when they are trying to win a mate. In addition to their elaborate display of feathers, peacocks use just the right voice and a respectful attitude to guide the peahen in the right direction—to the nesting site he has prepared. By changing their tone of voice, peacocks can convey a variety of messages, from contentment to agitation, pleasure to alarm. Our tone of voice can also communicate different feelings. A great message can be ruined by the wrong tone of voice. People seldom respond favorably to someone who sounds bossy, arrogant, or prideful. A humble, gentle, or kind voice is more likely to get a positive response.
To reinforce the trait of persuasion, try this peacock-inspired craft. Have your child trace their right hand on a piece of construction paper or card stock. Then on each tail feather (finger), write one of the following: right time, right voice, right direction, right attitude. Let your child imaginatively decorate the peacock and hang it up as a reminder to be persuasive this month.
I Will Statements
- Point others in the right direction.
- Not stretch the truth to make it more attractive.
- Appeal to a person’s conscience in terms of character.
- Wait for the best time.
- Not argue.
Read About Persuasion
I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff is a whimsical look at a young boy using the art of persuasion to convince his mom he should have a reptile as a pet. This creative story is structured as correspondence between mother and son and is sure to inspire laughs no matter how you stand on lizards as pets.
Parents looking for better ways to communicate with their children may want to check out What Did I Just Say?!: How New Insights into Childhood Thinking Can Help You Communicate More Effectively with Your Child by Denis Donovan and Deborah McIntyre. This book urges readers to examine the statements we make to our children and ask ourselves if we are really saying what we intend.
Putting Character First
The Character First! Project is inspired by the work of the Character Training Institute, a non-profit organization based in Oklahoma City. Character First! information is used by permission. Call 405-815-0001 for Character First! resources or visit CharacterFirst.com.