Help unlock your child's best self with these strategies.
Parents of the age of technology are very aware of the growing competition for their children's attention.
They're met at every scroll of the page or click of the mouse with new great ideas and newfound worries for raising their kids.
However, underneath all of this information have the basics of raising a moral child really changed?
Parents still want their children to achieve their goals and find balance and happiness, but Harvard researchers are saying that doesn't have to come at the expense of kindness and empathy. They're saying that a few tried-and-tested strategies remain the best ways to mould your kids into the morally upstanding and goals-oriented humans we want them to be. Phew!
Here are their six practical tips:
Hang out with your kids.Spend time with them each day.Ask them open-ended questions about what's going on with them, about the universe and how they see it, and actively listen to what they tell you about it all. Not only will you learn all sorts of things that make your child individual, you'll also be demonstrating to them how to show care and concern for another person. They'll in turn ask and listen of others which is a wonderful quality to have.
If it is important, say it out loud. According to the research completed, "Even though most parents and caretakers say that their children being caring is a top priority, often children aren't hearing that message." So be sure to say it aloud with them so they are aware that it's something they need to keep up with. Check in with teachers, coaches, and those who work with your kids on how they're doing with teamwork and collaboration.
Show your kid how to "work it out."Talk them through some decision-making processes while doing so, take into consideration people who could be affected. For example, if your son or daughter wants to drop out of a community show/play, find out the source of the problem with them and ask them to consider their commitment to performance and those who will be affected. Then help them figure out if quitting does, in fact, fix the problem.
Make gratitude and helping others part of your routine.The researchers write, "Studies show that people who engage in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving — and they're also more likely to be happy and healthy." So it's good for parents give their kids chores, asking them to help their brothers and sisters, and giving thanks for doing so. And when it comes to rewarding their good behavior, the researchers recommend that parents "only praise uncommon acts of kindness."
Check your child's destructive emotions."The ability to care for others is overwhelmed by anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings," according to the research. Helping kids identify and worj through those emotions, then helping them to find a safe conflict resolution, will help them greatly to focus on being a caring individual. It's also important to set clear and reasonable boundaries that they'll understand are out of love and concern for their safety.
Show them the bigger picture. "Almost all children empathize with and care about a small circle of families and friends," says the research. The key is to get them to care about people who are socially, culturally, and even geographically outside their immediate circle. You can do this by encouraging them to put themselves in other people's shoes and showing empathy using teachable moments in news and entertainment.
The study concludes with this short advice for all the parents out there:
"Raising a caring, respectful, ethical child is and always has been hard work. But it's something all of us can do. And no work is more important or ultimately more rewarding."
The Washington Post did a nice wrap-up of the study below: