A 2014 report from the Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education revealed a disconnect between how much parents care about their kids being kind and how much kids think that they value it.
Research shows nearly all parents report viewing kind character development in children as “very important, if not essential.”
But when asked about their perception of their parents’ values, only “19% viewed caring as their parents’ top priority.” Furthermore,“youth were least likely to pick caring as their own top priority (22%) and even less likely to pick caring as the top priority of their peers ... nearly two-thirds believed their peers would rank achievement above caring.”
At CKC we work towards aligning these ideas: giving parents more tools to demonstrate their value of character traits like kindness, empathy, compassion, and altruism -- and to guide kids to the understanding that those qualities are not only critical, but also sources of joy and fulfillment. In turn, children will expand their awareness of the impact they have on others, and grow into kind, responsible, engaged members of their communities. But we can't do it without you, the families.
So, how does this happen?
First of all, through modeling. Parenting is less often about what to do and more often about how to do it. Your children are watching your responses to everything, and learning through how you handle yourself and what character strengths you bring in. When you experience a situation where it is challenging to be compassionate or empathetic, what can you teach your kids through your actions? What can you share with them about your experience of that challenge that will help them to respond in a similar way?
Secondly, through taking time to focus on small acts of kindness. These simple acts of kindness add up! Perhaps you can remind your kids how much of an impact it makes (and model!) smiling at friends when they see them in the morning, letting people know what we appreciate about them, or saying thank you to the people who help deliver our mail and ring up our groceries every day.
Third of all, through opportunities to experience the power of acting altruistically. From Family Service Events, to CKC Summer Camp, to bringing gloves and trash bags to clean up litter the next time you go out on a hike as a family, there are countless opportunities to connect your kids with how GREAT it feels to act in the interest of others. We are wired to connect, and acting in services helps us remember that we have a community to care for, and to be cared for by.
CKC is dedicated to creating opportunities for parents and caregivers to demonstrate value through modeling and engaging families activities. Will you join us?