7 ways to raise your child with ‘Easter’ values
It is not unusual these days to hear adults and older people complain that young children and millenials these days are spoilt, entitled and uncaring. The truth is that with the way times are advancing, it has become a herculean task to keep kids in check more and more. But instead of judging our children for being insufficiently caring and spoilt, maybe the real question we need to consider is what values we’re modeling and teaching them. Easter is all about giving, selflessness and doing away with greed, negative behaviours and excesses; so what can we do to raise kids with these eternal values in today’s challenging 21st century world? The answer is simple, teach and role model more.
Explicitly teach values
This should be done not by lecturing, but by asking questions. Listen, and help kids reflect so they can sort out what they think. Some questions to guide you:
. What do you think would make me most proud of you, a perfect report card, or for you to be more caring?
. What does it mean to be a selfless person?
. What do you think is most important for happiness- high achievement, being rich, caring for others, following your passion, or something else?
. Would you stop to help a friend in need?
. What do you think about volunteering? Is it important to do this? Why or why not?
. How would you define entitlement?
. Do you think it’s okay to cheat at school? What if everyone else is?
. Is it okay to cheat or lie to make money?
. What makes someone a good friend? Why?
. What do you think makes a person popular? Are wealthier kids more popular? Are you popular? Why or why not? Would you like to be?
. Do adults automatically deserve respect? What about kids? How do you earn respect?
. When you work at a job, does it matter if you do a good job? What if you don’t really like the job?
. Does getting really good at something make it more fun to do?
. Would you rather spend 10 hours working to earn money for a new toy, or spend the same 10 hours getting really good at football (or whatever)?
. Do you think if someone works hard enough, they can get rich? Is that a good goal?
. How will you know if you are successful in life?
. Do you think education is worth spending money on? Why or why not?
. You know how we say in our family that everyone cleans up their own messes? Do you think that’s true beyond our family? Do you think it should be true?
. What could our family do that would make the world a better place?
. Do you think you make the world a better place, just by being in it?
Role model habits of happiness
There’s nothing wrong with children, or adults, wanting to be happy. But research shows that chasing after the next good time isn’t what makes us happy. The deepest happiness comes from connecting with others and from developing our passions to make a contribution. Why not explicitly teach kids how to be happy, so it’s a habit rather than an aspiration?
Role model that material things are secondary
What matters most to you? I’m hoping you didn’t say “stuff.” Kids need to hear explicitly, and to see you demonstrate, what matters most, so they learn that life holds huge abundance beyond achievement and accumulating material possessions, especially now more than ever when ill-gotten wealth is constantly being flaunted everywhere.
Give your child the opportunity to discover how good it feels to help others
You can do this daily in your family, but it makes a bigger impression on children when you also volunteer as a family. What can kids do? Help out in church or school. Organize a book drive for younger children in their neighbourhood and so on.
Every child deserves the pleasure of giving his own money to a worthy cause
This is a great way to educate kids about others in need, which gives some perspective to our own lives of relative plenty. Try giving a little extra weekly allowance that goes in a special “charity” jar, and letting her get that good feeling about herself by giving it away when she hears about a worthy cause.
Cultivate gratitude as a family
There are many ways to help children learn gratitude. The most obvious is including gratitude practices in your family life by making a practice of sharing things you’re grateful for on a daily basis.
Meet your child’s emotional needs for connection, understanding and empathy
Children who are in stable, supportive, loving relationships with emotionally available and compassionate parents or other close attachment figures tend to grow into well-adjusted, generous, respectful adults, whether they live with scarcity or abundance materially. In other words, children who experience empathy and connection grow up to empathize and connect. Which is really the bottom line on how to raise caring, selfless kids.
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