From increasing their awareness of issues like poverty and homelessness, to recognizing the importance of treating animals humanely and behaving in an ethical way, raising socially conscious children is a complex process. How can you make sure you are raising your children to treat others well? While there is no cookie-cutter recipe, there are a few things that you can keep in mind.
Why is there so much focus on social responsibility?
Critics are quick to often label the current generation of children as self-centered “me” thinkers. Raising their social consciousness helps to change those individuals to “we” thinkers, which is helpful to themselves as well as society as a whole.
What helps children learn socially conscious behavior?
Often, the way children are treated has a direct connection to how they treat others and think of society as a whole. Lead by example by showing them compassion, giving them encouragement, and being a generally attentive and active parent.
When should you start raising social awareness in your children?
Like many other good habits, it’s usually never too early to start. Remember that kids want to help. Like everyone else, children are social creatures. Acting compassionately creates a connection between them and others, which leads to an increased sense of responsibility. What's more, the idea that they're a part of a bigger picture and making a difference is exciting for someone so young.
As a parent, you are a major influence on your child's life, but you're not the only one. Grandparents, neighbors, teachers, and even siblings can help demonstrate the importance of proper social awareness.
For more information and guidance on this, read The We Generation, by Michael Ungar.
Where does social consciousness begin?
Experts believe social awareness begins at home. Connections at school and within the community are important as well. You might be surprised at the significance of the small, simple things that make a big difference in children's development:
1. Recognize the importance of showing affection to children. Hugging your kids is critical to their development as socially responsible individuals.
2. Kindness is a learned behavior. When you show kindness to others, your children and those you have an impact on are more inclined to observe your actions and follow.
3. Make time to listen to your children. Make contact and really connect with what they’re saying.
4. Teach responsibility.
What are some ways of raising social consciousness?
• Discuss topics relating to social consciousness. Poverty, homelessness, and the humane treatment of animals are all places to start. These conversations can be tailored to fit the ages of your children.
• Start small. Help an elderly neighbor with yard work or adopt a pet from a shelter. Teach your children that being socially responsible doesn’t only have to be done on a large scale. Every little bit helps.
• Pick a cause. Whether it’s animal welfare or helping the homeless, focus on a particular cause (or two).
• Get involved as a family. When you become involved in socially responsible causes as a family, all family members are more likely to stay involved and have the activity remain part of their lifestyle.
Where can you learn more?
Check out specific organizations associated with causes that are of particular interest to you and your family members. Visit peacefirst.org for more information and ideas.
Raising social consciousness begins at home, but it’s a lesson that can last a lifetime. Not only is social awareness an important aspect of being a well-adjusted individual, but it goes far to help society as a whole, too.
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