To become caring, ethical people, children need adults to help them at every stage of childhood to nurture these seeds into full development.
How does Raising Caring Children work?
We should work to cultivate children’s concern for others because it’s fundamentally the right thing to do, and also because when children can empathize with and take responsibility for others, they’re likely to be happier and more successful. They’ll have better relationships their entire lives, and strong relationships are a key ingredient of happiness. In today’s workplace, success often depends on collaborating effectively with others, and children who are empathic and socially aware are also better collaborators.
What is the way forward?
Children learn to care and respect when they are treated that way. When our children feel loved, they also become attached to us. That attachment makes them more receptive to our values and teaching.
Children learn ethical values and behaviour by watching our actions and the actions of other adults they respect. Children will listen to our teaching when we walk the talk.
It’s very important that children hear from their parents and caretakers that caring about others is a top priority and that it is just as important as their own happiness. Even though most parents and caretakers say that their children being caring is a top priority, often children aren’t hearing that message.
Children need to practice caring for others and being grateful – it is important for them to express appreciation for the many people who contribute to their lives.
Almost all children empathize with and care about a small circle of family and friends. Our challenge is to help them learn to have empathy and care about someone outside that circle, such as a new child in class, someone who doesn’t speak their language, the school custodian, or someone who lives in a distant country.
Children are naturally interested in ethical questions and grappling with these ethical questions can help them figure out, for example, what fairness is, what they owe others, and what to do when they have conflicting loyalties. Children are also often interested in taking leadership roles to improve their communities. They want to be forces for good.
Often the ability to care for others is overwhelmed by their anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings.
Ref: Making Caring Common. Graduate School of Education – gse.harvard.edu
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