You’ll be hard-pressed to find a counter-argument to the popular adage that says parenting is the most difficult job in the world. Ensuring your child has the basic necessities like food, water and education is hard enough. But raising a child who is responsible, cares for their fellow human beings and has a sense of compassion for others — that’s an even tougher challenge. How can you encourage your child to care about the world around them? Take advantage of your ability to spend more time with them this summer and try out these three simple but rewarding ways to teach your kids important life skills and social responsibility.
- Teach them with tasks. Assigning children small, easy-to-accomplish chores is a great way to help them understand responsibility, accept obligations and learn the consequences of failing to do something. Take time showing your child how something is done, and accept that they may make mistakes while emphasizing that it’s the effort that counts. Most of all, make sure your child understands why a task is important. If the task is to walk the dog, explain that regular walks help keep the dog happy and healthy and your home clean and tidy.
- Jump-start their savings: Financial responsibility should start young. Encourage your child to keep a piggy bank with savings from any money they receive or earn from their allowance. Talk to them about the importance of not spending everything right away, of prioritizing their needs and wants, and of thinking of others when they plan their budgets.
- Keep kindness in mind: In order to raise empathetic and compassionate children, it’s important to start talking to them early on about the world around them and their role in it. Lead by example and show your children the importance of giving back, whether it’s through donating time or money. Volunteer together at your local service club, teach them about the need to help the less fortunate or pick a charitable cause you can both support. Organizations with specific programs that help mothers and children — like UNICEF which is working alongside Kiwanis and the Government of Canada to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, a disease that strikes rapidly and kills newborns soon after birth — may have extra resonance with your child and inspire them to give back.
You can learn more about how to help communities around the world eliminate deadly viruses at www.unicef.ca/eliminate.