Raising children to be kind, thoughtful individuals sounds easier than it is. It takes daily practice and reinforcement from parents, which is why we think it’s a good resolution for the new year.
We found this great article by Amy Joyce in the Washington Post called “are you raising nice kids?” It features five strategies for raising kind kids from Harvard professor Richard Weissbourd. Weissbourd runs the Making Caring Common Project, which recently released a study that found 80 percent of youth believe their parents are more concerned with their achievements than whether they are good members of the community. Kids were three times more likely to agree with the notion that parents are prouder of good grades than community service.
So what does Weissbourd recommend for raising kind kids?
1. Make caring for others a priority. Rather than promoting your child’s own happiness, emphasize the need to be kind to others. Watch to see if they treat all people with respect and discuss it with them. Ask the teacher about your child’s moral character and behavior in the classroom.
2. Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude. Don’t reward every helpful act. The expectation is that they should be helpful and care about others. Only reward truly exceptional behaviors. Talk to your children about kind and unkind acts they see in public and on TV. Make gratitude a daily ritual by routinely saying “thank you.”
3. Expand your child’s circle of concern. Most children care about their friends and family, but how do they interact with people outside of their circle? Talk to them about how their behaviors impact other people in the community. Ask them how they can they aid a person who is vulnerable, such as a new child in class. Encourage them to say “thank you” to cashiers, bus drivers, and other members of the public.
4. Be a strong moral role model and mentor. As a parent, you must practice honesty, fairness and caring. When you make a mistake (which you will) it is imperative that you admit it. You should also pay careful attention and listen to your child. Listening is a key trait of kindness.
5. Guide children in managing destructive behaviors. Children need to know that negative feelings are okay, but there are good and bad ways of dealing with those feelings. Teach your child to stop and breathe when they become upset. Practice this while they are calm, then remind them when they get excited. This technique will be helpful as they enter adulthood.
Read the entire article by clicking this link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/18/are-you-raising-nice-kids-a-harvard-psychologist-gives-5-ways-to-raise-them-to-be-kind/
Have a great new year and we’ll see our students back on January 6!