Educational psychologist Diane Tillman offered nonviolent parenting skills last week to an audience of more than 100 in the Alice Peters Auditorium. The discussion centered on instilling peace and tolerance in children.
Fresno State professor Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, founder of the peace and conflict studies program and professor emeritus of social work education, arranged for Tillman to speak about parenting to give the campus community a chance to learn new skills.
Tillman addressed the use of electronic devices and a lack of quality family time.
“There’s a time for you to be mindful, put down the cell phone and to also enjoy yourself,” she said.
Tillman challenged the audience to limit electronic usage, designate time to turn off electronic devices and play with their children.
“You enjoying your child protects your child,” she said.
Tillman also suggested her audience implement what she calls “active listening” techniques. She said the technique is used to help children understand why they are having a problem and empower them to find their own solutions.
“The time when it is essential to listen is when a child is having a problem,” Tillman said. “Children become aware of their feelings when they are listened to.”
Speaking about youth who are involved in gangs, Kapoor said, “Many of these kids never learned how to really respect each other in the home.”
He added, “The parents never had those kind of skills to teach them or deal with the conflicts in a family like that.”
A student from Kapoor’s peace building and conflict transformation course, Ricardo Gonzalez, attended the lecture with his daughter. He said he was hoping to learn effective parenting skills that do not involve violence.
“I wanted to come to the lecture to pick up on some things that aren’t necessarily being given to parents through the media,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t want any outside influences on my parenting skills.”
In light of recent violent events like the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. Tillman asked what her audience is doing to guide their children through “confusing times.”
“As a parent, what are your messages and attitudes? What are you modeling? Are you modeling acceptance of others?” Tillman asked.
On the topic of racism, Tillman said parents should exercise “assertive benevolence” by voicing disagreement and giving children meaning that empowers them. Tillman said those steps could lead to raising more tolerant children.
Tillman asked the audience of parents and non-parents alike how they implement peace in their lives and whether or not they practice the strategies she presented.
“If we do have values of peace, love and respect, do we only use them with our friends and family?” Tillman asked. “Or do we use them with everybody all of the time?”
Tillman offered the idea for audience members and their children to have “a wider view, an inclusive view” of life.
Kapoor, who founded the university Peace Garden in 1990, said he has spent his life advocating for peace. He believes internal peace is essential for the well-being of the world.
“There is a direct relationship and connection with the peace within me, peace at home, the peace in the community and in the world,” he said.