How To Teach Your Kids To Heal a Wounded World
Children today are growing up in turbulent times. The climate crisis is causing changes in weather patterns, increased natural disasters and a loss of habitable land. Famine and disease are causing millions to suffer and die. War and violence are rampant. Children are filled with angst and fear amid this uncertainty. Teaching them the skills they need to help heal a broken and hurting world can empower them to move forward with positivity and optimism.
Lead By Example
As a parent, you are the biggest driver in how your children will act when they are grown. Your actions will influence their behavior over time much more than anything you can say. If you want them to grow up to be responsible, compassionate and engaged adults, then make sure you are acting like one. Let them see you perform random acts of kindness, pay it forward in line at the store and help a neighbor take in their trash can without being asked. Be ready to explain your actions if asked, but don't force the issue. This way, kindness will simply become another part of ordinary behavior.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't engage children more actively in helping others in your community. Look for opportunities where you can volunteer together. If you can find a charity that caters to something they are passionate about that's great. It isn't necessary, however, since kids will learn that some of the best rewards are found where you least expect them.
Involve Them in Decisions
Making it personal goes a long way to igniting passion in children, so go ahead and involve them in every step of the process. That doesn't mean you should give in to every single demand. Rather, give them age-appropriate options and let them explain and justify the choices they make. If you are looking for children to sponsor, ask them about ages or if they would prefer to support a boy or girl. This will help build a connection to the recipient that goes beyond pouring money at a problem -an abstract concept younger children just can't understand.
Our consumer-driven culture doesn't teach youth about saving for the future, yet this is a crucial skill that they can use to help heal the world. Show kids how to manage money so they can save for things they want and also help others. Develop a system where the money they earn or receive is divided into three separate pots: one for spending on wants, one for saving for future goals and one to use for donations and charity. This teaches them how even small amounts can make a big difference.
Compassion is a lifelong work in progress. It is one that you teach others without much thought when you weave it into every part of your day. If you want your children to learn compassion, caring for others and the ability to heal the world, take a good look at your own behavior. Younger children will notice big acts of compassion like volunteering at a local shelter or donating goods or money to a charity. Share with them why you are doing these things and how it makes you feel. Explain how people are often victims of circumstances or poor choices, but that with a little help they can get things back on track. As youth get older and develop their own sense of compassion, even small acts will get noticed and you won't have to spell things out so clearly.
Teach Them About Nature
Love and respect for nature are two of the most amazing gifts you can give your children, and they are completely free. Adopt earth-friendly practices like throwing trash into appropriate bins, recycling and turning off lights when you leave a room. Start a compost bin or, better yet, a vermiculture system so kids can watch as worms get to work breaking down scraps into usable soil conditioners. Use that in a garden where kids can help grow some of their favorite fruits and vegetables. You might be surprised how quickly your little ones will eat a previously hideous vegetable if they help grow and prepare it.
Small actions can make a big difference. Lead by example and give your kids the skills they need to move forward with compassion, concern and a willingness to do the work necessary to make things better.