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~ Margaret Mead, American Anthropologist ~
No parent ever said, “I don’t want my child to grow into caring human being.” Placing value on caring for other people is something we all want for our children. We also want them to care for all life, property, and our global environment. Over the past few decades, especially, we have become more aware of our responsibility to the future well being of our earth.
We know that example through our words and actions speaks volumes to children and shows them what significant adult(s) in their lives believe is important; and, what they will internalize and follow. Many of us may not have grown with the most relevant and comprehensive examples of how to care for life and our global environment. Now, however, we can address elements of caring that need to be taught, while taking specific steps that will teach children the behaviors we want them to model. Below are some ways you can help teach your child about the character trait and major pillar, CARING.
- Caring for self: By providing healthy meals, minimizing sweets, carbonated drinks, salts and unhealthy fats, we teach our children that our body is a temple and we are in charge of caring for it to the best of our ability. Along with healthy eating, other habits such as exercise, cleanliness and order teach children personal care.
- Caring for the needs of others: By attending to the emotional needs of children, we show them we care for their feelings. When we see others upset, we can model good listening, emotional support and help to ease the personal pain of another. We should identify the actions and tell the child what we are doing and why it is important as well. The child will then become aware of what it means to support and care for another person’s feelings.
- Caring for those less fortunate: By participating in food drives for the hungry, donating used toys to needy shelters (perhaps a toy-cleaning day quarterly), and saving a part of allowance money earned to give to a favorite charity can be incorporated into a family routine. Volunteering as a family – perhaps to give time to work in food kitchen – is a fantastic way to model helping those in need.
- Caring for life: By having children take responsibility for pets and plants, they learn the need to care for all living things. If you do not have any pets, perhaps your child can interact with the pet of a friend or family member to teach them how to be gentle and caring.
- Caring for the environment: By making sure waste and debris are picked up, children learn environmental care. Through awareness of the amount of water and electricity being used at home, they learn environmental conservation. It is through the example of the adults who are significant in their lives that kids learn that the earth is our home and that it is important to take care of it for the future.
Raising caring kids is something that requires awareness on the part of adults in that magical sphere of influence. By considering these steps, parents, grandparents, teachers and all significant adults can guide children toward becoming caring adults.
What ideas can you share that have helped you teach some element of CARING to a child? Did you experience a caring family life when you were growing up? What did you learn from your parents/family/teachers/significant adults that taught you be a more caring person?