There are some difficult topics to explain, even more when it comes to explaining it to children. A few days ago we were celebrating the International Day of Solidarity, one of the main values that humanity must have, and which, together with democracy, make a peaceful life possible.
If we talk about democracy, we are dealing with one of those abstract concepts that we cannot explain to adults or children. Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand.
Democracy comes from the Greek, from the word demos, which means people, and from the word krátos, which means government. And I wish it was so easy to explain it to a kid like that. But democracy has become a difficult concept to grasp in these times, even for adults.
According to the UN, democracy is both a process and a goal.
Democracy is the government of the people by the people, and for the people “(Canedo, 2010:6) In other words, it seeks the greatest common benefit. That is why it is related to the fulfilment of human rights.
Democracy and conflict prevention.
This year’s theme chosen for the Day is “Democracy and Conflict Prevention”, which focuses on the need to strengthen democratic institutions to promote peace and stability.
The values of freedom and respect for human rights and the principle of periodic and genuine elections through universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy. Democracy in turn provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights.
Democracy for children
Democracy is learned. That is why it is essential to teach from a democratic home. Children must learn to make decisions from childhood. At home we have to involve them in some decisions: from the colour of the furniture in their room to the family trip, all of them are decisions or opinions of which they must be a part to feel integrated and that way they will learn to listen to others and value their opinions and contributions so that they can make the decision themselves.
One basic thing is that children learn more by example than by orders. So a good way for them to live in a democratic environment is to speak to them in such a way. It’s much better not to order them to do something, but to give them a choice. For example, instead of ordering “Put on your pants” ask them “Which pants do you prefer, green or blue?” so that the decision comes from themselves.
When no agreement is reached, it is good that there is the possibility of voting. This will familiarise them with this idea and potentially assess what the right to vote entails. They will also become familiar with the concept that the majority wins and you don’t have to be triumphant or celebrate anything. It is simply a consequence of being democratic.
They must learn to abide by the decision of the majority and know that it affects the whole family group and the lives of others. This is fundamental to children’s rights.
Democracy in School
As a shared institution between adults and minors, it is the duty of the former to ensure democratic learning for the latter.
Democracy allows us to reach consensus that involves everyone, even if you are not within the majority idea. Therefore, the school should promote activities that encourage the participation of all in decision-making, debate, the exercise of liberties, compliance with rules, etc. Sports, teamwork and many other activities are very conducive to actively developing the principles of democracy in children.
Teaching democracy is the job of all citizens, but it is schools and families that will create the future citizenship of our country.