Instilling Care and Kindness: How to Raise Kids Who Care
When parents are asked what they hope for their children when they grow up, most respond that they want their children to be good people and to be happy. Raising kids is tough no matter what outcomes you hope for but it can be particularly challenging to figure out how to raise kids into good people. We checked in with the experts and gathered some of the best tips around for raising kids who care. Use the tips below as your guide to raising kids who care!
Treat them with respect
Treating your kids with respect is the first step towards raising healthy, well-adjusted kids who are capable of caring about others. When kids feel secure in their attachment and know that you’re a safe home base from which they can explore the world, they’re able to focus on learning and growing. When kids don’t have a safe home base and feel insecurely attached to their parents or caregivers they often operate from a self-preservation or survival mode of being. This means that, because they must always worry about themselves, they don’t have a lot of time to worry about others. Help your kids feel safe and respected by honoring their feelings, respecting their choices, and showing them through words and actions that they can always count on you.
Model healthy relationships
When kids see the adults in their lives in happy, healthy relationships they begin to understand that these sort of relationships are what they should strive for. Caring people are kind to others, show respect, and know how to step away when others aren't respecting them. While this might sound like a lot of pressure, modeling happy healthy relationships doesn't mean there’s no conflict or challenges, it just means that when there are conflicts and challenges, everyone involved shows respect for themselves and others.
Let them see you care
While it might seem like telling kids to care and offering suggestions for how they can show care are the most impactful ways to raise kids who care, the reality is that kids are most likely to do as we do, not as we say. Let kids see your care and kindness in your interpersonal relationships and in the way you show up in your community. Take them along when you volunteer, talk to them about causes that mean a lot to you, and tell them what you do to help. Simply being a caring person, and letting you kiddo see you in action, is one of the best ways to raise kids who care.
Don’t push service as punishment
Sometimes, when kids are less grateful for all they have than parents feel they should be, parents decide they want to teach them appreciation by making them volunteer with people who are ‘less fortunate.’ While this may seem like a good idea on the surface, it’s problematic in several important ways. Not only do kids begin to think that there is an ‘us’ (people who give help) and a ‘them’ (people who receive help), but it also dishonors all the people parents want them to learn to connect with. Forcing kids to volunteer or give back also draws a connection between punishment and caring or volunteering. If your child is lacking in gratitude, it’s likely very age appropriate and the best thing to do is to show them lots of extra love and model all the ways you want them to behave towards others and towards their things.
Help them recognize when others help them
The last thing parents who want to raise kids who care should do is let kids believe that there’s a fundamental difference between those who give help and those who receive help. Let your kid know that everyone can contribute to the community by pointing out all the ways others help them. You might find helpers in their volunteer sports coach, the tutor they see after school, or volunteers at a community event. Teaching your child to recognize how others help them is a great way to set them on the path of helping others.
Raising kids who care is a difficult but important task. Following the tips above will give you a kick-start towards raising the good people you hope your kids will one day become.