With so many sad and scary things happening lately, now more than ever we need to think about how to raise kids that will one day change the world. With that in mind, read on for some tips that will help you create kind, compassionate and respectful future adults.
All parents dream of seeing their kids grow up and totally change the world. We imagine becoming future First Moms, hearing our name in a Nobel Prize speech, or walking the red carpet arm-in-arm with our future Oscar winner.
Here’s the thing, though- your kids don’t have to become world-famous celebrities, politicians, or scientists to change the world. Remember, it takes countless individuals working together to enact change. Key word, individuals.
What does “raising them right” entail? While that may mean different things to everyone, to me it means raising kids who are kind, compassionate, and respectful towards all people. Kids with a strong sense of empathy and a willingness to help others. Basically, kids who will make this world a much brighter place. Let’s talk about some things we can do to ensure that happens.
We all know that teaching our kids about other cultures is important, but it’s even more important to make sure that they respect them. Part of that means making sure we’re not appropriating someone else’s important traditions. Maybe you have good intentions when you and your kids make your own headdresses to learn about Native Americans, but that head piece is actually part of a sacred tradition.
If you’re having a hard time imagining the harm of such things, try to think about your own important cultural traditions. For example, if you’re Catholic, imagine how you would feel if someone served Communion to teach their kids about your traditions. Of course, you still want to teach your kids about other cultures. Just stick to more respectful methods. For example, you can read books written by authors from those cultures or visit cultural centers.
Value compassion above being right
The world would be a much brighter place if everyone valued compassion above being “right.” If we want to change the way people behave on a grand scale, though, we have to change how we react to our kids on a personal level.
Do your kids a favor and remove the words “I told you so” from your vocabulary. Seriously, ban that phrase. Add it to your “off limits swear words” list. Instead, the next time your kids learn something the hard way (rather than just taking your word for it that it’s a bad idea) react with empathy. Remember, you learned many lessons the hard way, too.
We tend to view random acts of kindness as something to do during the holidays only. Maybe we volunteer at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving, or a adopt a family for Christmas. While those are wonderful ideas, spreading kindness isn’t just a box to tick off on a list of holiday traditions. It’s something that we need to focus on every single day.
Here’s the good news- you don’t have to spend money to teach your kids about compassion. Remember, being kind has nothing to do with opening your wallet and everything to do with opening your heart. Maybe start a family dinner tradition where everyone talks about something kind that they either did or witnessed that day. If you need some help getting inspired, try reading these great books that teach kids about kindness.
We adults spend a whole lot of time talking at each other instead of to each other. We do it to strangers on social media, to each other at the dinner table, and to our kids every day. If we can’t learn to truly listen to each other, we can’t change the world. If we all work together to fix this on a personal level, we’ll raise a generation that actually knows how to truly engage with each other.
Make a family rule that only one person can speak at a time and no one can interrupt them. Use the“talking stick” method. The person holding the stick gets to speak. Whatever method you choose, actively listen. Don’t just zone off until your son finishes telling you all about his new Minecraft world. Only by showing him that you respect what he has to say can he learn to respect what you have to say.
Ask them how they would change the world
One of the greatest things you can do to raise kids that will change the world is to simply ask them how they’d change it. Kids see things so much differently than we do. They haven’t had the chance to become jaded, after all. They may have ideas that we never would think of on our own.
Be a good role model
This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. If we want to raise kids that grow up to change the world, you need to be willing to change the world yourself. Show them how to be a good person, don’t just tell them. We can’t keep pushing things off to the next generation, hoping that they’ll make the changes we want to see. We need to do better now. Maybe, if we get it right, our kids won’t have to change the world. They’ll just have to keep the momentum going.