It’s not easy being a parent. Besides meeting all your child’s needs (such as food, clothes, etc), you also have to make sure that grow up into decent human beings. Parents are expected to guide and teach their children the right things. But the main question is, how can you do it?
Thanks to the human development researchers at Harvard University, there is now a set of guideposts (are supported by many studies) to raising caring, respectful, and ethical children.
Plan regular, emotionally intimate time with your kids
According to the university, children learn caring 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. So it’s important to spend quality time with your children. Activities such as bedtime reading and an afternoon at the park are great ways to bond with your child.
Be a strong moral role model and mentor
This is because children learn ethical values and behaviors by watching our actions and the actions of other adults they respect. Children will listen to our teaching when we walk the talk. Pay close attention to whether you are practicing honesty, fairness, and caring yourself and modeling skills like solving conflicts peacefully and managing anger and other difficult emotions effectively.
Make caring for others a priority and set high ethical expectations
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. Besides that, consider the daily messages you send to children about the importance of caring. For example, instead of saying to children “The most important thing is that you’re happy,” you might say “The most important thing is that you’re kind and that you’re happy.”
Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude
Children need practice caring for others and being grateful—it’s important for them to express appreciation for the many people who contribute to their lives. Studies show that people who engage in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving— and they’re also more likely to be happy and healthy.
Encourage children to consider the perspectives and feelings of those who may be vulnerable
Almost all children empathize with and care about a small circle of families and friends. Our
challenge is help children learn to have empathy and care about someone outside that circle. Children also need to consider how their decisions impact a community.
Promote children’s ability to be ethical thinkers and positive change-makers in their
Children are naturally interested in ethical questions and grappling with these ethical questions can help them figure out. Children are also often interested in taking leadership roles to improve their communities. You can try encouraging your child to take action against problems that affect them, such as cyberbullying or an unsafe street corner.
Help children develop self-control and manage feelings effectively
We can teach children that all feelings are ok, but some ways of dealing with them are not useful. Children need our help learning to cope with feelings in productive ways. Researchers also say that a simple way to help children to manage their feelings is to
practice three easy seps together: stop, take a deep breath through the nose and
exhale through the mouth, and count to five. Try it when your child is calm. Then, when
you see her getting upset, remind her about the steps and do them together.
For more information, visit Harvard University’s website.