Kids at heart are just like they’ve always been. They have feelings, their own thoughts and ideas and somewhere deep down we all want to make the world a better place. To take comfort in the fact that raising kids to the right thing is not only possible but an inbuilt human instinct that most of us are happy to apply – kids are no different.
Here are a few ideas for raising socially conscious kids:
Talk to them – Your kids can’t often see outside of their little bubble. And lets face it that bubble is quite nice when you’re a kid. But as parent’s we can gently take them outside of their world and open up their minds and hearts to others. While you don’t have to include gory details or content that is not age appropriate, let your kids know about others in the world. Share stories and your thoughts about things happening in other parts of the world or even just around the corner.
Make sure that your kids don’t feel guilty necessarily when hearing about such tragedies but instead empower them to know that we can all do our part to change the world. It’s also a good time to show them the lesson of gratitude. Always tell them not to feel guilt but instead to replace that guilt with gratitude for what they do have.
Speaking to your kids about the world in a way they can understand and that is age-appropriate is the starting point to many life lessons for children. As a parent it’s not only a joy to be able to share this with your kids but also a responsibility.
Get involved – Getting involved and helping others doesn’t have to be a big ordeal and even the youngest child can do their part to help. Support local charities or do a fun walk/run to raise money. Sponsor a child in another country. Help at the local soup kitchen. Donate goods to the local church or Goodwill center. There are many ways to get involved in a positive and happy way that will inspire children and make them feel part of the world around them.
Avoid exposing kids to potentially damaging situations or real tragedy unless you feel they are completely ready. Often times, exposing kids to such things can have the opposite effect we want and simply make them turn away from helping others. This is not because they don’t want to help but an instinctual safety and protection mechanism. Instead keep giving and helping fun and inspiring for kids. As they grow they will naturally learn how to deal with more tragic events in the world.
Raising socially conscious kids isn’t difficult. There are things happening around us all the time which can all make great learning opportunities for kids. By keeping the lines of communication open and getting involved with helping others your kids will naturally build on the empathy they were born with.
A good rule of thumb and question to ask kids is – “how would that make you feel?” this simple question gets kids thinking outside of themselves and will teach them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes – a necessary aspect of building empathy.