Teaching the virtue of strength from childhood: a challenge in the education of the XXI century.

Today the education to the virtue of strength in schools is a great challenge, because for a correct growth and for the development of children it is necessary that school and family walk hand in hand. 

Maria José Atienza-April 26, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes
virtue strength

Testo originale del articolo in inglese qui
Traduzione: Monica Ríos de Juan

What is the virtue of strength?

All of us are vulnerable from the moment of conception. This condition entails our susceptibility to receive injuries, which does not imply that we are not capable of resisting and confronting them.
It is this vulnerability that allows us to develop the virtue of strength.

This virtue is useful in the midst of difficulties. A strong person is someone who, besides accepting and confronting pain, strives to achieve a difficult good, overcoming the difficulties that arise in the process and persevering despite them.

Thus, in the measure in which we give up the little things that please us but do not involve particular effort, and we prepare ourselves for those that present greater difficulties, we are growing in self-control, in self-control, in perseverance and joy, all virtues directly correlated to strength.

the current problem

Trigo (2002) considers the education to this virtue fundamental, if an orderly and healthy growth in all dimensions is sought, because he affirms that the four cardinal virtues, among which we find that of strength, play a fundamental role in the maturity of a person, and affirms that nothing kills as much as pain or difficulty.

In a consumerist society in which people act on the basis of "mi piace" instead of "lo voglio, anche se mi costa" or "devo, anche se mi costa", this self-control comes into play in the measure in which people allow themselves to be dominated by the outside. In this way, when the will does not act, its failure is produced, increased by the need of immediacy when it is about wanting to achieve any objective.

This situation, together with the fact that in today's families an overprotective educational style prevails, characterized by the purpose of avoiding any kind of stress and sophistication in children, has a negative impact on the development of the virtue of strength in the children themselves.

Taking into account the characteristics of the society of the 21st century, today the education to the virtue of strength in the schools represents a great challenge, because the first educational environment is the family, fundamental cell of society, and for the correct growth and development of the child it is necessary that school and family go hand in hand.

Is it possible to start this operation from the moment of birth?

We know that the best period to develop this virtue is from 6 to 12 years old. However, we believe that it is essential to start putting it into practice at the end of the first years of life, for various reasons.
Firstly, because the more the child is small and has fewer resources, the more vulnerable he is and therefore the more he needs to exercise this virtue to overcome a difficulty. And finally, for the fact that the virtue of strength is the basis of the rest of the virtues, since without effort it is not possible to acquire any other virtue.

How is it possible to work starting the education from early childhood?

In early childhood education, the pillars can be established by working on any of the virtues indicated above:

Dall'ordine: a strong person must be able to have a program and to respect it, to plan everything that must be done, and to give priority to what is important and not to what is urgent.
When you establish an order in your priorities, if you don't let yourself go from "I will" to "I must", you will build a solid and strong personality. The delicate period to work on ordering goes from 3 to 6 years; therefore, teaching children to return everything to its place we will get the basics so that tomorrow they put order in their priorities and fight for what is really important.

Dall'autocontrollo: this virtue allows us to learn to say no to everything that could be an obstacle to the achievement of our goal, besides enjoying the time we spend making ourselves standards and not taking the decision to abandon ourselves in moments of fatigue.
The child can be helped to resist and manage the impulses that manifest themselves in the present moment, if we are able to delay the reward. For example, if he wants a gelato before dinner, we can help him to learn to expect and understand that first he must have dinner and then eat the gelato.

Peace of mind and tolerance in the face of frustration. San Tommaso has related the virtue of strength with peace, showing that this virtue allows to accept the reality of a difficult situation, in which it helps the person to continue to fight and to aspire, without yielding to the decline or to the sadness.
For example, do not buy a toy that the child wants at that moment without a reason, but wait for its completion or the Epiphany.

Dalla perseverance. This virtue implies being constant in our efforts to achieve an objective. For example, encouraging the child to try to put on his or her shoes as often as necessary.

Dalla generosity. The child of this age is characterized by being self-centered, and facing a difficult situation in which he must seek the good of the other may help him to grow in strength. For example, to give in and give your brother the last shot.

Working on this virtue will inevitably lead to the growth of other virtues such as joy, because the person who works for something good is always happy. This satisfaction comes from knowing that you are working for something really worthwhile.

In short, by helping children from their earliest years to lay the foundations for the development of this virtue, we will make sure that their will is strengthened in the following years, having a positive impact on their growth and development as people and, therefore, on their happiness. We remember Seneca's words".per aspera ad astra".

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