Lessons in Nurturing Empathy and Caring in your child
Studies indicate that parents of youth are more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they care for others.
So how does empathy and social awareness figure in parental expectations? The result is indeed telling: interviewees almost three times more likely to agree that “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”
Here’s what we do need to do as parents whether we have a 2 year old or a teenager
Make ‘caring’ for others a priority
Children need to learn to balance their needs with the needs of others, whether it’s passing the ball to a teammate or deciding to stand up for a friend who is being bullied. Thus, before your kid quit the sports team, band, or a friendship, ask them to consider their obligations to the group or the friend Instead of saying to your child: “The most important thing is that you’re happy,” say “The most important thing is that you’re kind.” Emphasize caring when you interact with other key adults in your children’s lives. For example, ask teachers whether your children are good community members at school.
Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude.
Learning to be caring is like learning to play a sport. Practice is the only way! At the same time, don’t reward your child for every act of helpfulness. Acts such as clearing the dinner table is a routine every child should be trained in! Only reward uncommon acts of kindness. Talk to your child about caring and uncaring acts they see on television and about acts of justice and injustice they might witness or hear about in the news.
Expand your child’s circle of concern for others and the environment
Almost all children care about a small circle of their families and friends. Our challenge is help our children learn to care about someone outside that circle, such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn’t speak their language, the school custodian, or someone who lives in a distant country. Make sure your children are friendly and grateful with all the people in their daily lives, including the bus driver or a waitress. Encourage children to care for those who are vulnerable. Give children some simple ideas for stepping into the “caring and courage zone,” like comforting a classmate who was teased. Use a newspaper or TV story to encourage your child to think about hardships faced by children in another country.
Be a strong moral role model and mentor
Children learn values by thinking through ethical dilemmas with adults, e.g. “Should I invite a new neighbor to my birthday party when my best friend doesn’t like her?”
Being a moral role model and mentor means that we need to practice honesty, fairness, and caring ourselves. But it doesn’t mean being perfect all the time. For our children to respect and trust us, we need to acknowledge our mistakes and flaws so they get to learn that it’s ok to be wrong and mistakes need to be admitted and not covered up. Model caring for others by doing community service at least once a month. Even better, do this service with your child. Give your child an ethical dilemma at dinner or ask your child about dilemmas they’ve faced.
Keystone habits and kids
Raising kids who are intellectually smart and compassionate is a tough task. Child psychol0gists have for years claimed that regular habits and rituals help kids grow smart and kind and they call these keystone habits. These are habits that trigger a “chain reaction” in our life and help us succeed and outperform our peers.
Let’s look at some of these regular to dos we need to internalize as daily processes for the child (these incidentally also address the “sensitivity to order” popularized by Maria Montessori)
Most of us plan daily goals which we seldom achieve. Yet, something as simple as making our bed as a daily morning ritual can bring about a huge change. Likewise, a child taught to make his/her own bed in the morning will get a sense of achievement and confidence that follows task closure. Adding on more rituals (for instance laying the dinner table or cleaning the wardrobe, stacking books, watering the plants etc.) Will only add to the sense of accomplishment in children. Thus even if at some point they fail, or have a rough day, they’ll at least return to a bed that’s already made or a clean tidy room!
Parents of course need to and must regularize the habit of ‘reading to their young ones’
Reading daily to your kids is immensely impactful:
- They hear a huge variety of words which increases their vocabulary and they are able to communicate better and smartly
- More reading to your child increases their neuron and connectivity, and grows their intellectual expanse
- Reading brings focus and adds to increasing concentration levels in the child.
- Stories are a good medium to send key messages around aggression, anger management and patience
- Finally reading together builds a strong bond. Children remember these moments vividly as the best time spent with their parents,
- Make that 1 hour in the evening “A gadget less hour “and read to your child!!!
Pets for Kids
Pets and specially dogs are considered a man’s best friend. History speaks that dog was the first animal to be tamed by human. Since that time dogs and pets are a part of our life and it would be appropriate to say that they are even more loving towards kids. It would not be wrong to say that a dog is a child’s best friend. The unconditional love, playful active nature and the care provided by pets develops empathy, responsibility and confidence in kids.
For many people pets are not just tamed animals but an integral part of the family. They are cared and looked after just as for any other member in the family. They bring joy to the house and to a kid’s life, they can even treat autism in kids. Not just this but there is a vast range of benefits with keeping pets at home. Raising kids with a pet at home is very beneficial for them and here are some of the benefits.
- Less sickness complaints: Finland`s Kuopio University Hospital reported that children who grew up with pets tend to fall less sick due to their immune system getting stronger as the dogs spread around certain germs that make them stronger. Also kids growing with dogs has less asthma and allergies due to their strengthened immune.
- Better self-confidence: Kids growing with pets inculcate a sense of self-confidence which is believed to be an outcome of the unconditional love provided by them. Practicing a speech in front of a mirror is a general confidence booster but practicing infant of their pets, reciting their speeches and poems to their pets is an even better way to increase self-confidence.
- Pets make them active: Kids tend to be more attracted towards digital world and spend more time in mobile and computer games. The lack of regular physical activity makes them obese and lazy also prone to diseases. Pets and especially dogs are the best companion for physical activities. So your child can’t sit still for long, regular walks, playing ball are a good way to keep their physical activity in check.
- Pets help autism: Some of the world’s best doctors suggest kids suffering from autism to live with service trained dogs. Animal therapy is considered the best help for children suffering through autism. Dogs help in reducing their stress levels dramatically.
- Support with unconditional love: Animals are very less demanding and they love unconditionally. Children who feel lonely or suffering through sibling rivalry tend to find their best friends in dogs and pets. They help them to be more expressive of their feeling, showing their emotions and while the animal never judges or criticizes them.
A pet is a very good addition to your family, especially if your kid is suffering from loneliness or is quiet and more into games. Pets will increase their physical activity, cure their loneliness, reduce their stress level, improve their immune system and make them more caring, responsible and empathetic.
I would like to share my experience on this.
I had to get my daughter from the boarding back to Gurgaon and she was very unhappy.
She didnt like anything in her school
She refused to make friends and her academics were just not going anywhere.
After 6 months her class teacher suggested us to get a dog as a pet. The father being a anti dog we got 2 dogs . Aditi was a changed person after that .she was probably missing company being a single child suddenly she had 2 dogs as her little brothers.
In one month’s time her academic performance shot up leaving everyone shocked and surprised and there’s no looking back after this.
I always believed that pets especially dogs do bring harmony and happiness in the households.
It’s double the giggles and double the grins if you have twins so let them be together forever…..be it home or school
There is a very strong bond that develops between twins, and a policy that demands separation completely ignores the importance of their unique attachment. As one twin broadcasts the emotion he/she experiences, the co-twin resonates with that expression of emotion.
An attempt to divide them artificially in two classes in same school will focus their attention on the separation rather than what needs to be learned. Considering that multiple birth children have very little experiences of separation prior to starting school, they should not be separated at school.
In defense of togetherness, many studies have found that non-separated twins maintain the emotional and intellectual resources that allow them to thrive. For example, there are twins in same class who ask questions like brother did you get what I got, this indicates their attachment to each other.
It’s been said once by Daphne Fandrich a mother, “In this life, we will never truly be apart, for we grew to the same beat of our mother“
Wisdom and Goodness are twin born and when God did not want to separate them we should not attempt. Let the children blossom in the umbrella on same class under the guidance of same teacher.
Twins, will make the love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, space happier, the past forgotten and the future worth living for.
However, if sometimes the relationship between twins is out of balance, with one twin more dominant and one more submissive. The dominant twin tends to lead the duo, often speaking for both and influencing the actions of the other. This can be a good reason to recommend separation of the twins.