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AmblesideOnline's Patio Chats:
37. The Way of the Will and The Way of Reason

"The way of the will" and "the way of reason." Do those sound like mystical eastern pathways to guide you peace? No, Grasshopper, they're not. But they ARE guides, and they can be very effective if they stay in the correct order.

Does your child have a strong will? No, I don't mean a stubborn streak that makes him hold his breath until he gets his way. I'm talking about a determined, set purpose that makes him stick to his guns because he has already determined what he's going to do and he's not going to let anything deter him. A strong will, paired with good ethics and solid reasonings that help to bolster him in his determination, can keep a child (or adult) on the right path. A strong will should enable a person to choose to do the right thing, even when it would be easier not to.

What happens when temptation comes and makes him waver? His will might only take him so far. But there's one more secret weapon at his disposal: he can distract himself long enough to let the temptation dissipate, and come back to it later, when his resolve is rested and ready for mental battle again. He can mentally plan his next birthday party, or decide which Lego to add to his collection next, or whether he'd rather be more like Alexander the Great or Napoleon -- something interesting enough to put the temptation completely out of his mind for a while.

If you've ever seen a preschooler fall and get hurt, and be thoroughly distracted from his skinned knee by a lollipop, then you know distraction works! Here's a tip: distraction doesn't just work for toddlers with skinned knees, or children facing mental battles. Distraction can work for you, too, in your own mental battles.

[Today's patio chat comes from Principle 16, 17]

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