How Should I Teach Course Principles to Children?

Q #202: I am a professional who works with kids. I have wondered what are some basics of A Course in Miracles that you all talk about when it comes to working with children, as a parent, teacher, counselor, coach, or whatever role is in use. I use “what do you want to come out of this?” Unfortunately, most kids are not conscious enough to answer that question with much wisdom. I also emphasize the role of “choice.” What else?

A: We addressed this issue in Q #179 in the context of parenting. It is always a good thing to help children (as well as adults) to accept responsibility for their behavior, and to help them realize that choices are available to them; but the concepts and principles of the Course are far beyond what children and most adolescents are capable of grasping. Children must first learn to become strong, healthy egos in order to function effectively and to cope with the many challenges in world. A basically sound level of psychological stability is necessary before anyone can “safely” begin to deal with the concept of the world and individuality as illusions. Immature or psychologically fragile people can be thrown into a panic, or far worse, if they are inappropriately confronted with such topics.

The best way to teach the Course to children is to demonstrate it in our own lives. The focus should always be on the content in our minds — watching for, and then bringing to the love of Jesus, all of our ego thoughts and dynamics: for example, our need to control, dominate, or cannibalize (psychologically) others; our need to manipulate and use others to get what we want and then dispense with them. When we humbly acknowledge that we have been wrong in our choice of teachers, and then choose the teacher of forgiveness in our right minds, we will automatically manifest the message of the Course in our lives. The words we say do not matter, because if we are centered in the love of Jesus, then whatever we do or say will be loving and the most helpful to the children in our care. Children will connect with the source of our words or actions, and consequently they will feel safe and accepted regardless of what they do. When discipline is called for, if we have let go of our ego for just an instant, our behavior will be conducted in a manner that is appropriately firm and effective, but not punitive, retaliative, judgmental, condescending, nor triggered by anger or by fear. Again, the message the children will get — after their normal period of pouting — is that they are cared for and accepted, even though what they just did was not acceptable. We all can attest to the fact that the teachers and adults who stand out in our memories of our childhood are those who were kind and caring and accepting of us, or were just the opposite. The words they said have probably been forgotten — except for those perhaps that manifested acceptance or rejection. Children immediately tune into the message being transmitted through the adult’s words and behavior.

Jesus asks us to be like him, to take him as our model. And therefore the way we teach our children is to be a model for them of our right minds. A helpful paragraph to study in this regard is under “The Function of the Teacher of God” in the manual (M.5.III.2).

Q&A by Kenneth Wapnick,

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