Chances are you’ve read or watched the news lately and felt discouraged. Stories of kindness and compassion seem harder and harder to come by. As parents, we all hope our children will grow up to be kind, caring individuals who make a difference and leave a positive legacy. But how can we be more proactive in raising them this way?
Many say that if we want to make the world a better place, we should focus on building character. Our character is our moral compass, the thoughts and feelings we have which guide us in making decisions. As children grow up in a world filled with negative influences, they will need to rely on their character more than ever.
Although most children are born to be givers, as we get older, we are often socialized to think more about ourselves than others. We do our best to give kids love and attention. We give them hugs and encouragement, or even special gifts or treats. Children learn quickly that it feels good to receive such kindness. However, research has shown that to reduce bullying, enrich friendships and build more peaceful relationships, we have to teach children to be givers of kindness.
Children learn by example. Parents, siblings, relatives and childcare providers give children their first glimpses of kindness, honesty, generosity, and fairness. Caring is at the heart of character, and caring for others often starts with empathy. If children can learn to think and care about how their actions impact others, and how their words and actions make others feel, they are on their way to becoming more caring, compassionate adults who want to help others.
Character development begins at home and continues at school. Preschool often provides a child’s first interactions with others outside of the family. At Cranium Academy, students benefit from CRANIUM CHARACTER, curriculum designed to nurture the development of respect, responsibility, caring, citizenship, and more. Children learn about these values, then participate in hands-on activities which help foster their development.
So what can we do to help our children build strong character?
Tips to Raise More Caring Children
Make caring clear – Telling children to be nice is important, but simple explanations and examples of what that really means is typically more effective. Through Cranium Character, students learn that caring means to be kind, show you care, express gratitude, treat others as you want to be treated, forgive, and help people in need. Children benefit from simple examples of what that looks like throughout their day (sharing, taking turns, using kind words and gentle hands, etc.).
Lead by example – Even more important than telling children what caring people do, is showing them. If children see kindness, they are more likely to replicate it. Nobody is perfect, but if we want our children to have integrity, we have to do our best to show them what that means every day.
Encourage empathy – Children who stop to think of how others might feel are more likely to think about their choices, and the consequences of their actions. In conversations with your child, ask them to think about how others are feeling. Encourage children to think about how they would feel if something similar happens to them.
Recognize kindness – Praise kids when they do something nice for you or others. Be specific with your praise. For example, “That was very kind of you to share your puzzles. I’m sure that made your friends feel happy.”
Volunteer together – Teaching children about others in need, and showing them how they can help others is important to building character, compassion, and leadership in children. Look for opportunities to volunteer together as a family, and you’ll discover there are many benefits beyond helping others. Volunteering teaches even preschoolers about gratitude, compassion, empathy, and community responsibility. Also, children who volunteer are more likely to do so as adults.
Putting Our CRANIUM CHARACTER into Action this October
Throughout the year, Cranium Academy preschool and elementary school students have various opportunities to build character! In October, we are bringing character education to life through:
Pinktober – Students wear pink on a special day in October to support breast cancer awareness
Goodness Goodies – Students donate a portion of their candy from Halloween parties to create special treat bags for the families of sick children staying at the Ronald McDonald House
Harvest Food Drive – Cranium Academy families donate food for the homeless through Matthew’s Hope
If we want to make a difference, we can start with our children. Providing opportunities for children to see and practice caring is an important step to strengthening character and creating a more caring, peaceful world.
Cranium Academy offers a completely unique preschool through fifth grade private school experience, plus unforgettable summer camps, birthday parties, after school programs, and more! Now serving more of the Orlando area with our Winter Garden – Windermere preschool and elementary school location and our brand new East Orlando location near Lake Nona.