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Practical Tips for Raising Caring Children

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Every parent wants to raise responsible, caring children, but if we are to succeed, we need to nurture the seeds of ethical behavior at the earliest stages of childhood.

Research in human development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education resulted in seven useful guideposts for raising caring kids:

Develop a caring relationship – Children learn respect when they are treated that way. We develop loving, caring relationships with our kids by showing affection, providing a stable environment, applauding their efforts and achievements, and talking about things that matter.

Be a role model – Children learn by watching our actions. They will mirror our efforts to engage in community service, treat others with honesty and respect, and apologize when we’ve hurt someone’s feelings.

Make caring a priority – Sending a clear message that we should listen carefully, honor our commitments, and work to overcome problems helps to demonstrate caring and fairness.

Provide sharing opportunities – Children need to practice caring – and being grateful. Having routine chores at home to help the family, talking about injustices they see or hear about, and expressing thanks at bedtime are good practices to follow.

Expand the circle of concern – Children typically care about a small circle of friends and family. Encourage them to look at the larger world, to reach out to a nervous new student or to others who are facing challenges, and to look at ways they can help those who need help.

Promote the ability to be a change-maker – Listen to their ethical dilemmas, like whether to invite someone to a party who is not liked by another friend. Encourage them to join causes, to engage in charity and help out in the community.

Help them to manage feelings – Children need help learning to cope with feelings in productive ways. We can teach them that all feelings are okay, but some ways of dealing with them are not useful. Practice setting limits, resolving conflict, and getting a handle on self-control.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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