Art offers powerful opportunities to express our common humanity, challenge assumptions, spark conversation, connect diverse people, inspire wonder, imagine new solutions, and promote action for positive change. Music, dance, the visual arts, film, theater, and writing can also inspire empathy, which is why they have always played a role in social justice movements; art shifts the way people think about the world.
We implore our kids to study hard, to get good grades – and we spend considerable time and money to assure they're enjoying their lives. But we don't talk nearly as much about what caring and compassion mean to us – or help them strengthen those empathy muscles by performing acts of kindness and service with them. Luckily, with a few simple changes, your family can help make this school year one that is focused not just on academics, but also on concern for others.
Children as young as four feel better when they receive a sincere apology from a playmate after being hurt. The key word: sincere. Coercing children into offering apologies fails to comfort the victim -- and the wrongdoer learns little more than how to feign remorse. Here are a few tips for getting beyond the begrudging "I'm sorry." This approach can cultivate empathy, help children learn to manage emotions, and improve behavior.
With each dire news story about the planet's future, that topic may seem too scary or complicated to discuss. Still, most parents think it's important to inform their children about this critical issue. Even if want to shield them, we're aware they're likely to hear about it from other (possibly less reliable) sources. So how do we help kids understand the science – and become empowered to make a difference – while making sure they feel safe and secure? Below are five action steps to get you started.
Studies show that volunteering leads to greater life satisfaction; performing acts of kindness makes people happier and more socially comfortable; and helping others boosts daily well-being. If your child tends to be anxious, you can't make it magically go away, but you can offer tools to manage their discomfort, and strategies to help them cope.
Although children - like adults - instinctively sort the world into "like me" and "not like me" groups, it is possible to expand their understanding of who is in their "like me" circles and to build respect and appreciation for those who are in their "unlike me" circles.
We don't want our children to start seeing the world as divided into "givers" and "receivers." To avoid this, remind your children that everyone needs help at times, that all of us have something to offer others – and that the world is simply a better place when we help one another out. These tips can help you raise kind, giving children while avoiding the sense of "rescuing" that can be an unintended consequence of serving others.
Play is a critical way to acquire knowledge, build imagination, enhance mental and physical health, and practice social skills. Just as important, research indicates that play can help children develop empathy and compassion.
Kindness and courage are common topics in this newsletter, but failure deserves attention, too. I agree with researchers that accepting failure can lead to growth. And when parents view failure as an opportunity to be embraced rather than something to be avoided, kids will be more willing to take on new challenges and will develop the strength to cope. Here are strategies for helping you and your kids meet any disappointments that come your way.
Researchers have found that parents cultivate well-being and joy when they nurture certain qualities in their kids. Here's how to build these traits into your family's routine.
Food drives can play a critical role in keeping shelves stocked for those in need. However, despite good intentions, too many of us respond to our school, business or faith group food drive by quickly scanning our kitchen for old canned goods to toss into the donation bin. I'd like to suggest a different approach.
It's not always easy to talk to children about challenging situations in the news. It should be done in a way that is honest -- but also makes children feel protected and empowered. Here are some tips.
Although all gender stereotypes are becoming less rigid, girls are given more flexibility than boys. The typically "feminine" traits of compassion and kindness are critical to the healthy development ofall our children. Here are ways to assure that your boys receive those essential lessons in empathy as they grow toward being caring, compassionate, charitable men.
Empathy and emotional intelligence are critical characteristics of successful learners. What's more, service to others helps your child gain skills and confidence. Here are a few of our favorite projects for growing your child's heart -— and brain.