Raise Kids That Care: How To Focus Your Family on Philanthropy

South Africans need to teach their children to internalise kindness as a core value, you can ensure philanthropic values are passed from one generation to the next. How can children be taught to value compassion and what can you do to make sure they appreciate their privileges?

When parents raise their children to embrace philanthropic values, they effectively ensure that the next generation with be caretakers of the vulnerable here in South Africa.

The Making Caring Common (MCC) project, which is directed by Harvard psychologist Richard Weissbourd, outlines the key prosocial skills children should ideally learn in early life.

According to Weissbourd’s guidelines, parents should make caring for others a priority, and then give children opportunities to practice being caring. “Children need to hear from parents that caring for others is a top priority [and] a big part of that is holding children to high ethical expectations, such as honouring their commitments, even if it makes them unhappy,” explains the MCC project. For example, if a child wishes to stop doing or resigns from something they have committed to, such as a sports team, parents should challenge them to value their obligations to others and choose to solve problems instead of giving up.

The MCC project also emphasises the importance of learning to care through active practice. “Learning to be caring is like learning to play [an] instrument,” explains the project. “Daily repetition, whether it’s helping a friend with homework, pitching in around the house, or having a classroom job, make caring second nature.” In addition to this, learning gratitude is also about practice and can be incorporated into daily rituals, such as giving thanks at mealtimes, or before going to bed. Raising kids that care is paramount for South Africa.

The behaviours that parents model to their children also have a big impact on a child’s future capacity for compassion, says American child psychologist and parenting expert, Sylvia Rimm. “The words you use around your children, directly or indirectly, should reflect your values. The more they hear them, the more they will live up to them and by them,” says Rimm. She warns that parents should be wary of using overtly negative language around their children, even if the child doesn’t appear to be listening.

Children may find it challenging to show compassion to others when they are dealing with their own negative emotions. As a result, it is important for parents to teach their children how to manage negative feelings in a healthy way. According to the MCC project, children should be taught that it is ok to feel negative emotions, but that some ways of dealing with them are better than others. “Ask your child to stop, take a deep breath through the nose and exhale through the mouth, and count to five. Practice when your child is calm. Then, when you see them getting upset, remind them about the steps.”

Ultimately, says the project, parents have the responsibility to shape their child’s value system, saying: “[children] need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood.” Let us all focus on bringing up caring South African Children, and instil caring at a young age.

– By The Philanthropic Collection –


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