Being Considerate Toward Others
Young children are naturally generous, loving and giving. Those who are very altruistic have parents who help them see things from the other person’s perspective. Here are some ways to help your children grow into individuals who are sensitive to others.
Be genuine in expressing your feelings. Follow your instincts when expressing to your children how you feel about negative behavior. For example, when your children hit others, let them know how badly you feel by letting it show in your face and in your concern for the injured party. Let your children hear concern in your tone of your voice as well. Showing your genuine emotions will let your children know it means a lot to you.
Explain consequences of behavior for others. Let your children know that their behavior affects others. for example, explain that stealing is not good because other people work hard for their things and value them. Give an example from your child’s own life, “How would you feel if somebody took your favorite video game?” Extend your explanation to stores, if appropriate, explaining that stealing hurts the people who work in the store as well as the people who shop at the store. Focus the discussions to help teach your children why caring is important.
Express different viewpoints. Many children have a difficult time looking at things from another person’s perspective. For example, they cannot understand that another might be hurt when they themselves feel fine. You can help them develop an alternative perspective through every day conversation. For instance, talking about a person who is using a cane and asking, “How do you thing it feels to walk with a cane?” This type of example can be used to help children think about view-points other than their own.
Practice what you preach. Modeling caring and compassion is the best way to teach your children to be caring individuals. The more frequently your children see you acting positively, the better. This includes simple day-to-day acts of kindness toward others in the family, helping out neighbors, or saying “excuse me” in crowds. Reading stories and watching movies about people who devote their lives to serve others are also helpful ways to illustrate the importance of caring and being positive toward others. Read or watch the movie with your children and talk about it after it has ended.
Reward acts of caring with recognition. Look for opportunities to catch your child acting positively towards others and comment on it. For example, you might say, “It was nice of you to share your candy with Jonathan,” rather than letting the positive behavior go unnoticed. Recognizing acts of caring can be more difficult than catching children being antisocial, but it is so much more effective. Look for positive behaviors to praise in your children’s friends. The more often your children see examples of caring in their friends and in other families, the more likely that they will demonstrate caring------it is contagious.
By expressing your feelings, explaining consequences, representing different views, and practicing and rewarding positive behaviors, you can help your children become more positive toward other.
Peace be with you and have a Happy New Year!
Mr. Kerry R. Keener, Ed.S