Hearing your child described as sutil, madamot and makasarili can be a stab in the heart. We want to raise “good” kids who know their actions can impact their siblings, classmates, teachers, and even strangers. As Harvard University’s Making Common Project points out, we raise our children to be “good” because it’s “fundamentally right thing to do.” But they’re also likely to live a happy and successful life this way. They’ll grow up to have better relationships and will be able to collaborate effectively in the workplace.
The experts at Harvard's Making Common Project provides an action plan how parents can take to lead their kids to a happy and successful path. 1. Love with purpose by creating room for bonding moments. “Children learn caring and respect when they are treated that way,” said Harvard. How you are to your child, can dictate how they will be to other people. What’s more, when your child feels loved, your bond grows stronger, and she becomes more receptive to your values and teachings.
Work on nurturing a relationship with your child by making bonding moments. Yes, don’t just wait for an opportunity to come, make one! Schedule every Saturday afternoon as family time, for example, and plan out activities and adventures you’ll both enjoy. Then, during bonding moments, engage in meaningful conversation. When your child comes home from school, avoid the cliché, “How was school?” Instead, try, “What was the best part of your day? How about the hardest?”
2. Show how caring looks. You are your child’s life role model. He will learn through your actions, not just from the things you say. If we preach about honesty, fairness, humility and empathy, we've got to model these values. Of course, no parent is perfect, but our kids also need to know we make mistakes, and we can owe up to them.
The Making Caring Common Project recommends talking with your child when you make mistakes. Explain why you think you've done them and apologize (“I didn’t mean to shout, I’m just tired. I’m sorry.). Read more tips how to avoid saying and doing something you will end up regretting here. 3. Set expectations for your child. It's one way to show your child that you value caring and concern for others in your household. Expect her to keep her promises and honor her commitments; do the right thing even when it’s hard and be respectful to others. Send the message that you expect this of her even if her peers are not behaving the same way.
4. Give your child real responsibilities. Household chores are one of the most helpful tools to raise a child who isn't spoiled, can express empathy, and understands the meaning of gratitude. (Click here for a guide to chores that you can give your kids from age 2 to 7 years old.)
Practice gratitude too, because it’s strongly linked with caring, according to Harvard. “Studies show that people who engage in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving.”
Aside from openly expressing thankfulness yourself (“Thanks, Dad, for taking us to eat out today.”), lead conversations with your kids to where they can be openly thankful too. Ask them what they like or appreciate most about family members, teachers, and others.
5. Expand your child’s circle. There’s a kid in your child’s class that just transferred from a different school. The new classmate doesn’t have any friends yet and is a little withdrawn. Encourage your child to reach out and introduce himself. Make things a little easier by packing your child two recess snacks -- the other he can share with the new student. If there’s a classmate who is being teased, role play at home how your child can comfort him.
Show your child that there are other people aside from family members and close friends. Some of those people may be unfamiliar or difficult to understand at first, but being kind and caring makes a big difference.