How To Teach Your Kids To Care About Other People – Caroline Bologna

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As deep-seated divisions, vitriol and disturbing news fill headlines, many people are wondering what happened to the qualities of empathy and kindness in our society.

In the same vein, many parents are wondering how to raise kids who will be a force for love and goodness in the face of bitterness and hate.

HuffPost spoke to psychologists, parents and other experts about how to instill empathy in children.

Talk About Feelings

“The gateway to empathy is emotional literacy,” said Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and the author of numerous parenting books, including UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.

A simple way to foster emotional literacy is by promoting face-to-face communication in the age of texting and smartphones. “Digital-driven kids aren’t necessarily learning emotions when they pick emojis,” Borba said. “Make it a rule in your house to always look at the color of the talker’s eyes because it will help your child tune in to the other person.”

Another key aspect is teaching kids to identify their own emotions early on. “Use emotional language with kids. Say things like, ‘I see you’re really frustrated,’ or, ‘I see you’re really mad,’” Laura Dell, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Education, told HuffPost.

“Before children can identify and empathize with other people’s feelings, they need to understand how to process their own feelings,” she continued. “Once they can identify their own emotion, they’re better able to develop those self-regulation skills to control their own emotions ― and then take the next step to understand the emotions of others.”

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Ravi Rao, a pediatric neurosurgeon turned children’s show host, believes parents should teach feelings as much as they teach things like colors and numbers.

“You’ll see parents walking through the park and taking every opportunity to ask, ‘What color is that man’s jacket?’ ‘What color is the bus?’ ‘How many trees are there?’” he explained. “You can also practice emotion by saying things like, ‘Do you see the woman over there? Does she look happy or does she look sad?’”

Rao also recommends playing a “guess what I’m feeling” game at home by making happy or sad faces and asking your children to identify the emotion. “You just get their brains in the habit of noticing the signals on other people’s faces.”

Once kids have a better sense of emotions and how things make them feel, you can ask them about the emotional perspectives of others. “You can ask things like, ‘How do you think it made Tommy feel when you took his toy?’ or, ‘That made Mommy really sad when you hit me,’” said Borba.

Use Media To Your Advantage

Watching TV or reading books together presents another great opportunity to cultivate empathy, according to Madeleine Sherak, a former educator and the author of Superheroes Cluba children’s book about the value of kindness.

“Discuss instances when characters are being kind and empathetic, and similarly, discuss instances when characters are being hurtful and mean,” she suggested. “Discuss how the characters are probably feeling and possible scenarios of how the situations may have been handled differently so as to ensure that all characters are treated kindly.”

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Borba recommends engaging in emotionally charged films and literature like The Wednesday Surprise, Charlotte’s Web, Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Set An Example

Parents need to walk the walk and model empathy themselves, noted Rao.

“Kids will pick up on more things than just what you say. You can say, ‘Pay attention to other people’s feelings,’ but if the child doesn’t perceive or witness you paying attention to people’s feelings, it doesn’t necessarily work,” he explained.

Rao emphasized the importance of parents using language to convey their own emotional states by saying things like, “Today, I’m really frustrated,” or, “Today, I’m really disappointed.” They can practice empathy when role-playing with dolls or action figures or other games with kids as well.

It’s also necessary for parents to recognize and respect their children’s emotions, according to Dell.

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For kids to show empathy to us and others, we need to show empathy to them,” she explained. “Of course it’s tough as a parent trying to get multiple kids to put on their clothes and shoes and get out the door to go to school in the morning. But sometimes it makes a difference to take that pause and say, ‘I see it’s making you really sad that we can’t finish watching ‘Curious George’ this morning, but if we finished it, we wouldn’t be able to make it to school on time, and it’s really important to get to school on time.’”

“It doesn’t mean you have to give in to their wants all the time, but to recognize you understand how they feel in a situation,” she added.

Acknowledge Children’s Acts Of Kindness

“Parents are always praising children for what grades they got or how they did on a test. You can also boost their empathy by letting them know it matters to develop a caring mindset,” said Borba, noting that when children do things that are kind and caring, parents can stop for a moment to acknowledge that.

“Say, ‘Oh, that was so kind when you stopped to help that little boy. Did you see how happy it made him?’” explained Borba. “So your child realizes that caring matters, because you’re talking about it. They then begin to see themselves as caring people and their behavior will match it.”

Expose Them To Differences

“Parents have to help their children grow up and thrive in a diverse society through education about and exposure to others who are different, whether culturally, ethnically, religiously, in physical appearance and ability or disability,” Sherak said.

There are many ways to expose your children to the diversity of the world ― like reading books, watching certain movies and TV shows, eating at restaurants with different cuisines, visiting museums, volunteering in your community, and attending events hosted by various religious or ethnic groups.

“It is also important to follow up such visits and activities with open discussions and additional questions and concerns, if any,” said Sherak. “It is also valuable to discuss differences in the context of our children’s own environments and experiences in the family, at school, in their neighborhoods, and in the larger community.”

Parents can urge local schools to promote cross-cultural awareness in their curricula as well, said Rao.

“We also just have to eliminate jokes about race and culture from our homes,” he added. “Maybe back in the day making jokes about race like Archie Bunker seemed acceptable and part of what the family did when they got together on holidays. But that actually undermines empathy if the first thought a child learns about a race or group of people is something derogatory learned from humor. It can be very hard to then overcome that with other positive messages.”

Own Up To Your Mistakes

“If you make a mistake and behave rudely toward someone who messes up at a store checkout, for example, I think you should acknowledge that mistake to kids,” said Dell. After the bad moment, parents can say something like, “Wow I bet she had a lot on her hands. There were a lot of people at the store right then. I should’ve been a little kinder.”

Acknowledging and talking about your own lapses in empathy when your kids are there to witness them makes an impression. “Your child is right there watching, seeing everything,” Dell explained. “Own up to moments you could’ve made better choices to be kinder to the people around you.”

Make Kindness A Family Activity

Families can prioritize kindness with small routines like taking time at dinner every night to ask everyone to share two kind things they did, or writing down simple ways to be caring that they can all discuss together, said Borba. Playing board games is another way to learn to get along with everybody.

Borba also recommended volunteering together as a family or finding ways that your children enjoy giving back.

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If your kid is a sports guru, then helping him do arts and crafts with a less privileged kid might not be the best match, but you can find other opportunities for face-to-face giving that match their interests,” she explained. “Help them realize the life of giving is better than the life of getting.”

Families might also consider writing down their own mission statements, suggested Thomas Lickona, a developmental psychologist and author of How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain.

“[It’s] a set of ‘we’ statements that express the values and virtues you commit to live by ― for example, ‘We show kindness through kind words and kind actions’; ‘We say we’re sorry when we’ve hurt someone’s feelings’; ‘We forgive and make up when we’ve had a fight,’” he explained.

Lickona also recommended holding everyone accountable to the family values at weekly family meetings centered around questions like, “How did we use kind words this week?” and, “What would help us not say unkind things even if we’re upset with somebody?”

“When kids slip into speaking unkindly ― as nearly all sometimes will ― gently ask for a ‘redo,’” he said. “‘What would be a kinder way to say that to your sister?’ Make it clear that you’re asking for a redo not to embarrass them, but to give them a chance to show that they know better. Then thank them for doing so.”

Another piece of advice from Lickona: Just look around.

“Even in today’s abrasive, angry, and often violent culture, there are acts of kindness all around us. We should point these out to our children,” he said. “We should explain how kind words and kind deeds, however small ― holding the door for someone, or saying ‘thank you’ to a person who does us a service ― make a big impact on the quality of our shared lives.”

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7 Easy Ways You Can Become More Generous (Without Breaking the Bank) – Jesse Wisnewski

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Even though you may feel like you don’t have enough money to give, there are many ways you can be more generous. And don’t worry. You don’t have the break the bank, rack up debt, or get a second or third job so that you can donate more.

Below are seven simple ways you can become a more generous person with what you have to give. Regardless if you’re not used to giving or you’re just looking to become a more generous person, the list below will help you to get started.

1. Start small

Like many things in life, it’s best to start with small steps. If you don’t have a ton of wiggle room in your budget or a history of donating, then plan on taking small, generous steps at first.

  • Do you only have $5 you can spare?
  • Does giving $20 feel like a stretch?
  • Do you have the ability to donate $150 this month?

It doesn’t matter if you can only give $5, $50, or $500. Start giving whatever you’re able to donate.

Start giving what you have to give

Regardless if you think your donation is little or large, start giving what you have to give. “How can I start small when the Bible talks about tithing?”

Well, that’s a great question, and one we don’t have the bandwidth to answer in this post. But you can read this post to see what the Bible says about tithing: 106 Scriptures About Tithing in the Bible, Giving, and Generosity.

In the meantime, keep the idea about starting small in mind as you read through the suggestions below.

2. Reduce one expense.

 2. Reduce one expense

Before giving as much as you’d like, you may have to cut back on some of your expenses:

  • What is one think in your budget you can reduce or remove?
  • Can you cut your cable bill?
  • Can you reduce your mobile phone services?
  • Is there a miscellaneous expense, like coffee, you can reduce?

Take a few moments to look through your budget to identify one expense you can minimize or delete. To shed some light on how much you should save, take a look at all of the Bible verses about saving money. Now, with the money you save, be prepared to funnel it into a cause, which leads us to the next point.

3. Find a cause

Do you financially support your organization you want to help? What about a local organization, individual, or family who has a need?

However you choose to be generous with your money, it’s crucial for you to know who or what you’re going to support. Not committing to help someone or an organization may lead you not to give at all.

4. Give away stuff

There are times when life makes it difficult to be generous with your money. After paying your bills and putting gas in your car to get to work, you may not have a ton of money left over to give. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you can’t be generous.

Walk around your home to see if you can find things you can donate or sell so that you can give away the money you earn. You’ll be surprised by how many extra things you have lying around your house.

5. Share your time

There’s more to being generous than giving money.

In other words, God calls you to steward your life for his glory and for the good of others, which includes your time and skills.

If you’re not already volunteering your time, can you spare one hour per week to volunteer at your church or a local organization? How can you use your education, training, or work experience to help someone else?

Take time to think through what skills you have and how you can volunteer your services.

6. Look for opportunities to give

Commit yourself to looking for opportunities to give today. From carrying cash in your pocket or just being open to helping someone in need, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to be generous during the day.

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7. Set up recurring giving.

Arguably one of the easiest ways you can make start making small regular donations is to set up recurring giving. If the church or ministry you support uses Tithe.ly, you can set up a recurring monthly gift for as little as $5.

Whether you set up a recurring donation for $5, $50, or more, take a few minutes today to make an ongoing gift every month.

What step will you take first?

As you respond to the grace of God in your life, you’ll need to start by committing to becoming more generous. Don’t worry about how your giving compares to others or if you haven’t given that much in the past. God is at work in your life today, and I encourage you to respond to his leading in your life as it relates to your generosity.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure by your donations – Thank you.