How to Raise a Child with a Caring Spirit
By Sally Goldberg, Ph.D.
Q. How do you raise a child with a caring spirit?
A. With self-esteem and caring deeds.
Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does caring grow?
With self-esteem and acts supreme. That is what we know.
There are four parts to building your child's
self-esteem. The first is based on confidence. This is the on-going
process to help your child develop his skills and abilities in four
areas – cognitive, motor, social, and language. The higher these
skills are and the more well developed these abilities are, the more
your child will feel inner strength.
Second, it comes from all the ways that you
acknowledge his individuality and uniqueness. There is no one else
in the world who is just like your child ... and that is wonderful.
Personality develops over time, and it is a parent's privilege and
delight to have the opportunity to watch it unfold.
Third, it comes from how you show your child respect
and appreciation for what he or she does. "Please carry the
bag" is respectful. "Thank you for helping" is
The fourth or last part plays a large role as well.
This is the process of translating the word 'misbehavior' to the
word 'mistaken behavior'. The more punishments you give, the worse
your child will feel about himself or herself. Consequences for
mistaken behavior set up ahead of time are fair, firm, and positive;
they are part of the teaching process. When it is 'mistaken
behavior,' the focus is on learning. The key is for a child to be
able to learn from his or her mistakes and do better in the future.
This teaching is what makes a child feel good. If a child feels good
about himself, he will feel good about others. If he feels good
about others, he will treat them nicely. If he treats others nicely,
that is caring.
As a parent you are your child's first and most
important teacher. You teach as much as you can as often as you can.
You talk about honesty and caring. You talk about responsibility and
integrity. You tell your child about becoming a contributing member
of society, being sympathetic, empathetic, and hard working. You
promote kindness, understanding, and helpfulness. The list goes on.
While teaching about these values is a beginning, it
does not complete the job. It is modeling that accomplishes the
goal. As you love your family members, you model love for the
family. As you help your neighbors and friends, you model caring
about them. Here are some other examples:
You touch your child often. Any time he or she
is upset or somewhat out of sorts, you are there to hold, hug, and
caress him through the situation.
You prepare nutritious meals everyday for your
child. Wherever you are, you make sure that your child has available
to him as many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as possible.
You keep your house looking as clean and neat as
possible. With beds made, toys picked up, and dishes washed, you
display pride in your home.
You call and check on your aging mom and dad
frequently. You visit them as much as you can and bring them
whatever they need.
You make donations to organizations like Good
Will. You know that some things that you no longer need can be
helpful to others.
As the old saying goes, "They will do what you
do and not what you say."
The combination of your child's feeling good about
himself or herself on the inside and seeing caring deeds on the
outside is the formula for raising a child with a caring spirit. The
story gets better. Once your child starts feeling good on the
inside, he stars caring on the outside.
Once he starts caring on the
outside, he feels even better on the inside. This feeling good
inside and caring on the outside cycle is what brings continuous
generosity to the world. Enjoy this beautiful process over the
holidays with your child. As you ring in the new year, you will know
that you and your child are following "Mary's advice."
About the Author: Dr. Sally Goldberg is founder/director of Dr.
Sally Parenting. Learn from her on-line at www.drsallyparenting.com,
in newspapers and magazines, and now through parent coaching. For
questions or comments, contact Dr. Sally at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 561-715-9115.