We seem to be living in the midst of a ‘ME’ generation where all thoughts are for what is in it for oneself. Children are constantly being bombarded by advertising for the newest and latest ‘thing’ and are being swept along by the aggressive consumerism of our times. Children are naturally competitive and this lends itself even more to the idea that they are the only important person around.
Interestingly, the development of the ‘ME’ mentality hasn’t brought increased happiness or fulfillment to children; in fact, the reverse appears to be true. However, helping other people actually improves self-esteem and pride in oneself, as well as bringing happiness and that simple ‘feel-good’ sensation.
We need to help today’s children to understand the importance of helping other people, and how this can help us, individually, in return. Here are 8 strategies that will help you to inspire the children in your care, so that they feel motivated to help other people.
- Lead by example: children pay close attention to the actions of the adults in their lives, so it is important that we live what we teach. From an early age, children need to see that we care about those around us and that we are willing to go out of our way to help other people. Allow them to see that it is normal to be kind, to be helpful and to make an effort to be of service to other people. Show them that simple acts of kindness actually make you feel good. Demonstrate that the world is truly a happier place when we all help each other.
- Practice good manners: good manners are the simplest strategies for being kind to people. When children are expected to say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ from an early age, it becomes a habit that will stand them in good stead throughout life.
- Smile: “a smile is the shortest distance between two people” is an old saying that says it all. A smile makes two people happy and it is such a simple thing to give away. A smile can brighten another person’s day and costs you nothing.
- Gratitude: being grateful for what we have makes us appreciate our lives and helps us to see ways in which we can help others. Teaching gratitude to children helps them to see different ways they can help others.
- Look for different ways to help other people: encourage the child to think of their own ways of being helpful; they may surprise you.
- Teach respect for others: children need to be taught about respect and what it means. Talk to your child about respect for adults, for other people’s possessions, and their personal space, for people’s feelings and differences.
- Make sure the helping is age-appropriate: small children will be able to be helpful around the home and to family members; older children can be helpful within their community as well as in their home and school. Look for organizations that have helpfulness and community service as part of their activities, such as youth groups, Scouts and Guides.
- Praise: recognition and praise go a long way to rewarding a child who has been helpful. Even though we don’t want them to expect a reward, heaping on the praise goes a long way towards encouraging a child to repeat the desirable behavior.
- Donation: encourage children to donate to a worthy cause from their own pocket money or to give away unused or outgrown toys to needy children. Older children could come up with ways to make extra money that can then be donated to help other people.
The future of humankind is in the hands of the children and so we need to teach them how to make a difference in the world. Help your children to make inspired choices to benefit other people and to become members of the new ‘WE’ generation.
Very nice tips!
We really do need to help our children understand the importance of helping people.
Absolutely. It seems that over the last 10-15 years there has been a shift into self indulgence and tunnel vision. It’s not good. As society we are co-dependent and we need to work together and help each other. It is the only way things can work.
As a relatively new father, this type of thing weight heavily on my heart. Leaving children out of it, I’ve noticed an increase of selfishness in myself and a distinct loss of manners.
That’s something I’m going to need to correct ASAP if I’m going to be able to lead by example for my daughter. I think you’re right that selfishness definitely doesn’t lead to happiness!
I really want my daughter to grow to be a kind a gentle person who is willing to help others. Thanks for the tips!
You’re welcome. Be proud about the fact that you have become aware of yourself and have determined to make some positive changes. That is huge compared to many people. Also, the fact that you are going to try to set a good example for your daughter is also great news. So many parents ignore their children and they don’t get taught these valuable things.
I’ve been very mindful of modeling charitable living in deed and verbally. I think it is paying off as my daughter has demonstrated lots of social action and charitable initiatives. This is a really important topic. She’s even insprining me now!
That is awesome Barb. I am so glad to hear you have made this a priority in your household. It really is amazing how with the right example, our children can really shine in these kinds of things and inspire us as adults to do more ourselves. A friend of mine is always really wowed by her son and what he thinks of when it comes to help others- she calls him her “little Buddah”.
Great points Miss t – the me generation is not helping anyone, and is teaching the children bad habits and probably robbing them of time with their parents and other family members.
Agreed. This me generation needs some serious re-tweaking. Selfishness I think has been the root of many of the problems affecting us today- even the economic crisis. It is so important to teach the next generation how not to be like this and learn from our mistakes.
We don’t have kids yet. For us (from our parents), the lead by example has worked wonders in not just charity but everything from personal finance to career. My parents never sat and talked about money or charity with us, but they didn’t need to. By the time we were old enough to think about things we had the impression that what they did was the regular thing to do and it has done well for us.
It is great to hear that your parents set such a fine example for you. Having helping others as the normal thing do is the way it should be. My parents also did a pretty good job of teaching me that helping others was the right thing do and that we should always try to help in anyway we can. Wouldn’t it be a great world to live in if everyone worked to help one another.
Giving your children positive role models by leading with the best example you know is great advice. I really like your message in this article Miss T.
Thanks Hunter. I think a real issue has arose regarding the way children and adults treat each other these days. It’s like a couple generations missed the message or something.Hopefully with a great parent like you, your children can the next caring and helpful generation.
This is a fantastic post. It really is amazing how much kids learn by example. I always try to find opportunities to show kindness to others. For one thing, it is the right thing to do, but for another thing, I know my kids are watching and absorbing all the time. Actually, one day my oldest son said “I like how you are always nice and talk to all the cashiers at the store”. Just something small, but it did teach me that they do pay attention.
That’s great to hear. It’s amazing what kids seem to notice isn’t it?! I agree with you on both points. We need to set an example but we also need to do the right thing. Glad to hear your kids will be part of the next caring and helpful generation. Thanks for doing your part as an adult as well to show other adults how to be respectful and kind. It amazes me how much adults forget simple stuff like this.
Leading by our own example is a sure winner, and, showing them movies and documentary on the subject might help as well. very good post
Movies and documentaries are a great idea. I didn’t think of that. I think even exposing children to what it is like to live in other countries around the world can have a big impact. When I have know kids who have seen other parts of the world, they become so grateful for what they have and the also feel bad for those that aren’t as lucky as them and it often prompts acts of good will. Documentaries would be the non travel way of getting across the same message.
Very good tips. Leading by example is the best way to really show children what you expect of them. As for the praise, it’s important to praise good behavior, but not over do it and gush over it, especially if it’s an expected behavior, like saying, “Please” and “Thank you.” I’m finishing up my credential and recently took an educational psychology class and there’s a fine line between motivating with praise and squashing their intrinsic motivation with too much praise.
Great point. I totally agree. Children do not need to be praised for everything all of the time, especially the expected stuff. Not only does this give them a false sense of security (you don’t get praised like that as an adult) but it also, like you say, can squash any intrinsic motivation they have. Having them motivated from the heart and mind is much better than having them motivated by reward.
I would have to vote for leading by example. This is the BEST approach in my opinion especially when it’s coupled with genuine love to the other. Love is at the heart of the initiative!
Absolutely. Love is the base for treating others how they should be treated and in lending a helping hand. Leading a GOOD example is so important because kids will do what you do not what you say. Thanks for your thoughts.
Great post! Great food for thought when I have children of my own in a few years. Do you have children, Miss T?
Nope, not yet but like you, we plan to start in a couple years. I am hoping to the best job I can when it comes to setting a good example for my kids.
This is going to be a unpopular suggestion, but….get rid of the television. Kids are so conditioned by the content. They see it as what the world is really like. Tv has a lot of rude, mean, angry characters on it. I got rid of my cable years ago and did not get the convertor box when the changeover came. I noticed a difference in the behavior of the kids that I took care of. They were calmer and more polite. They concentrated on the arts and crafts we did without being constantly diverted by the noise and light of the tv. I think they had more fun, I know I did.
I am with you. TV is watched way more than it should be. There are many other activities kids can do to fill their time. We don’t have kids yet but when we do they will be very active. There will be lots of visits to the parks, zoos, museums, and libraries.