Posts belonging to Category kindness



Ways to Encourage a Service Attitude in Children

The following post is courtesy of Nancy Parker who blogs at http://www.enannysource.com/blog/

kidsandcharityWe all hope our children will grow up to be the kind of adults that reach out a helping hand to those less fortunate. However, a service attitude doesn’t just happen; it has to be given ample chances to take root and grow strong.

Parents can have a profound impact on nurturing that attitude in their children. Here are a few ways you can help your child develop a service attitude that will stay with them throughout their lifetime.

Model a giving heart. Children learn best by watching those they love and respect. If you want your child to truly value helping others, show him that’s it’s important to you through your own words and actions. Find a cause that you’re passionate about and get involved in whatever way you can. It doesn’t always have to be a hands-on project; there are many support jobs that make the direct work possible. Maybe your cause is best served by working on the fundraising committee, or folding and mailing out newsletters, or managing the volunteers. Whatever you do, talk about it with your child and involve him whenever possible. Let him know how your actions help others and share the benefits you get by being part of the project.

Promote the idea that one person can make a difference. Many people today are pessimistic about the impact that one person can have. But the belief that one person who gives from the heart can make a real difference in the world is at the heart of the service attitude. Instill and nurture the belief that your child can make the world a better place. Seek out news stories that spotlight people, especially children, who have taken positive actions around an idea they believe in. Read books where the hero is kind and loving towards others. Celebrate small victories and acknowledge that every big victory started with one step. Focus on what you can accomplish rather than what you can’t. Starting a compost project in your neighborhood won’t stop global warming, but it will contribute to a sustainable community. Working a shift at a homeless shelter won’t end homelessness, but it will help local people get a night’s sleep away from the cold and rain. Empower your child to see and embrace the possibilities.

Give your child the opportunity to get involved in a real way. We often don’t let young children participate in volunteer projects because we want to protect them from the harsh realities of the world. However, most children are able to handle much more than we think they can. Children are able to see past the problems and connect with the people affected. There are many volunteer opportunities that welcome children and help parents explain the issue in age appropriate ways. You and your child can volunteer to serve meals at a homeless shelter, visit isolated seniors in a nursing home, collect winter coats for foster children, or work a shift at a pet adoption day. What you do isn’t important. Taking the time to volunteer on a regular basis is what counts.

Encourage giving with everyday actions. While volunteer projects are a great way to introduce your child to helping others, a true service attitude is something that’s present every day. Get in the habit of joining with your child to think of ways you can help others in your everyday world. Carry a supply of water bottles and granola bars in your car and hand them out to the homeless people standing on street corners. Purge the play room and closets on a regular basis and donate the toys and clothes that aren’t being used. Pick up trash off the sidewalk and put it in the street side trash can. Give up your seat on the train to an elderly person. Return a shopping cart to the store front for a mom with young kids. Ask a child who’s sitting on the sidelines if he’d like to join in the game. There are endless opportunities throughout the day for both you and your child to help others.

Start a gratitude habit. Studies show that people who are grateful for what they have, whatever that may be, are more likely to be happy in their lives. Being grateful also helps you feel good about what you have when others around you have less, so you should consider starting a gratitude habit with your child. Talk at breakfast about what you’re looking forward to, share at dinner what things happened during the day you’re grateful for, or end the night with saying thank you.

No matter how young your child is, take the time to nurture his service attitude. It’s a passion that will stay with him for a lifetime.

 

Are Bullies Born or Raised?

In an article by psychotherapist, Katie Hurley, she writes that children are not born bullies; bullies are something they become.

Ms Hurley believes that bullying is a learned behavior that is used in response to stress.  Bullying is an attempt to gain superiority or control over another.

bulliesShe states that while some studies indicate that some bullies have naturally aggressive and/or hyperactive personalities from the start; that should not be taken to mean that all “spirited” kids will bully while all kids who are mellow or laid back will not become bullies.

Her premise is that bullies have immature social skills. They see threats where there are none and identify other kids as hostile when they are not.  Bullies lack compassion and empathy. They have difficulty understanding how others feel.

Ms. Hurley states in her article that while it is hard to find compassion for a bully, it can be useful, however, to understand some of the reasons why kids become bullies:

1. Strained parental relationships.  Bullies often lack warm, caring, and involved parents.  Parents of bullies tend to be highly competitive and place unreasonable demands on their children to be superior to other kids (academically, socially, athletically, etc.).  These parents often have prejudices based on race, sex, wealth, and achievements.  They teach their children to compete at all costs, and to win by whatever means.

2.  Inconsistent discipline.  Bullies often lack consistent discipline at home.  Their parents tend to have difficulty setting limits and/or struggle to hold them accountable for their behavior.

3. Poor academic performance.  Some kids bully in response to academic stress.  When they struggle in the classroom and feel that they are not being helped, they may begin to lose hope.  When hope is lost, children act out.  This can translate to bullies seeking “revenge” on the higher achieving kids.

4. Unsupportive peer networks.  Children who are isolated and feel disliked or unsupported by peers often turn to bullying to gain some social control.  Their distorted thinking causes them to believe that controlling other kids = having friends.

5. Child abuse.  There is ample evidence that children who are physically abused by their parents turn around and bully other kids.  Abuse is cyclical.

6.  Victims of bullies.  Many bullies have actually been victims of bullies at another time.  Due to lack of support, poor social skills, and relying on learned behaviors, these kids use bullying behaviors to try to gain superiority and control so that they will no longer be victimized.

7. Low self-esteem.  When you add up all of the possibilities, it should come as no surprise that bullies tend to struggle with self-esteem.

There are steps to take to avoid raising bullies. Below are a few tips to work on building positive relationships:

  • Praise your children often.  Praise their big accomplishments as well as the little things that make them great every day.
  • Listen when they need to be heard.
  • Help them problem solve.
  • Encourage positive peer relationships.
  • Build positive sibling relationships.  Avoid comparisons, as this breeds unhealthy competition among siblings.
  • Set limits and hold them accountable for their behavior.
  • Teach empathy every day.
  • Carve out special time with each child and spend that time doing something that you both enjoy.
  • Talk often, even when you think they are not listening.
  • Stay calm; model appropriate conflict resolution skills.
  • Decrease exposure to violent TV, movie, and video content.
  • Be present.

Ms Hurley finishes her article on an up note, reminding the reader, again, that bullies are not born; bullies are raised. 

She states that we all have the opportunity to raise children who will choose to be empathic, kind, and loyal friends.  All we have to do is teach them those skills.

Katie Hurley blogs at Practical Parenting.

 

 

How to Foster Kindness and Good Behavior at Your Child’s Birthday Party

If you’re throwing a birthday party for your 5-7 year old, you may be wondering how to make sure the party goes over well in terms of behavior and how happy the kids are.

A birthday party isn’t much fun for anyone if the party guests bicker or act up in a way that’s stressful to you and the other chaperones. So, as a parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure you do everything possible to keep the party and the party guests’ behavior under control. Here are a few tips to help you do that:

Limit the guest list – Bigger parties are often only more fun in theory. Your child will have a better time if only his or her closest friends are in attendance at the party. Plus, it’s a lot easier to manage the behavior of 10 kids versus the behavior of 30 kids. So, try not to invite more than 15 guests, and remember that smaller and more intimate is usually better.

Plan the whole party out – Creating a schedule of activities for your child’s party may seem like extra, unnecessary work for you, but it will help you avoid chaos and less than perfect behavior at the party. Pick 5 or 6 activities the kids can engage in during the party and write down a schedule for those activities. A party that’s full of fun activities is the best kind of party for 5-7 year olds, who tend to stay out of trouble and feel more safe and secure, if they’re kept busy.

Give the kids a rundown of the rules – At the beginning of the party, make sure you explain any and all rules to the children. For instance, you might want to tell them that there will be no fighting, roughhousing, or yelling. Young kids usually take rules seriously but often need a reminder of what kind of behavior is appropriate.

Get help from other adults – It’s usually a good idea for you to ask family members and a few parents of the party guests to stick around at the party and help out. The more supervised the children are, the less likely they are to get into trouble or quarrel.

Keep refined sugar to a minimum – This doesn’t mean you have to do without the birthday cake. Just keep the other snacks and drinks at the party healthy and low in sugar. Consider serving cheese and crackers with some all-natural juice as opposed to sweet tarts, cupcakes, and soda. Serving the kids too much sugar just means they’ll have a lot of energy at the beginning of the party and will feel crabby and tired at the end of the party.

Be prepared for a few snags – Make sure you have a first aid kit on hand and the phone numbers of all of the parents of the party guests. Kids trip, fall, and scrape their knees when they’re running around and having fun at a birthday party. Additionally, you might have to call the parent of a sick or unhappy child who wants to leave the party early. Preparation is key.

It’s relatively easy to throw a successful children’s birthday party if you’re willing to do a little bit of work. So, consider trying out the tips above, and don’t forget to spoil your child a little bit at his or her party!

This guest post is authored by Melissa,  a mom and guest blogger from The Party Works, (www.thepartyworks.com) an online party supply retailer. She writes for a variety of blogs about party planning, child behavior, and party supplies, including Mario party supplies.