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Monday, July 11, 2011

10 Things You Can Do to Raise Kids Who Make a Difference Part 2 of 2

1. Read books. Make sure to include books about famous historical figures who stood up for what they believed in (Rosa Parks) or overcame great odds (Helen Keller) along with books with stories about a quality or belief that is important to your family. For younger children this teaches them about your family’s belief system and for older children it opens discussions.
2. Have family meetings. Having a weekly family meeting teaches kids to learn to speak in a group forum and lets them know that their ideas are valued. Start including your children in these meetings no later than age five and make sure you keep them limited to 20 minutes.
3. Turn off the TV. The average American child sees 40,000 commercials and makes 3,000 requests for products and services per year. Studies show that American children believe that their clothes and brands describe who they are and define their social status which is more than that of children in any other country. Children’s focus on consumer culture has been linked to depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, psychosomatic complaints, and increased conflict with parents.
4. Give chores and responsibilities. All children should have family responsibilities (clear your place at the table, put away your toys, make your bed, etc.) as well as paid chores (rake leaves, take out the trash, water plants) as soon as they are old enough to do basic math and coordinated enough to handle tasks.  a sense of giving back in their own home and the value of a dollar which happens most easily when they earn that dollar.
5. Teach early giving. Teach children to give back to the community starting at a young age. Even toddlers and preschoolers can do something small but meaningful, like making a card to give to a sick child, helping an adult bake cookies to bring to the local firehouse, planting a tree, or helping collect cans for a food drive. It is important to teach these values early.
6. Make a “helping others” scrapbook. Using the scrapbook to memorialize good deeds allows children the opportunity to feel good while they look back on all the kind things they have done to help others. This book also enables them to revisit these generous deeds as their developmental ability to understand what they have done increases.
7. Plan “Giving Vacations.” Instead of another trip to Disneyland or Hawaii, plan a trip based around doing for others. There are many organizations and travel websites that list “volunteer vacation” opportunities, mostly for teens and older, to do things like build an orphanage, teach English in a third world country, help children with special needs, or restore coral reefs.
8. Let kids earn “the difference.” Teach kids about the household bills and let them see where they can save money. Let them “earn the money they save. If, for example they are able to decrease the electric bill by $10, they get to keep the $10. This teaches them about household costs, makes them aware of wastefulness and helps them contribute to the home in a new way.
9. Start a “Dinner Table Foundation.” In the book The Giving Family, author Susan Crites Price recommends having a regular family meeting to decide where donations will go. Decide in advance how much money will be donated (it does not have to be a large sum). If you have young children let them choose from two or three charities after you have explained to them what each charity does and how the money will be used. For older children, let them come to the table and pitch the charity of their choosing. Work together as a family to make these decisions.
10. Make giving a year-round family activity. Many families have annual giving traditions like feeding the homeless at Thanksgiving but it is important for children to see giving throughout the year. Make sure you point it out to children when you donate old clothes to a shelter, let them sit with you while you write a check for a charitable donation, so that they are aware of the regular ways you contribute to others. Also, try to create family giving opportunities every month.

Dr. Jenn Berman is the author of two LA Times best selling books- SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years and The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids. Her first children’s book Rockin’ Babies was released May 2011 and won the prestigious Purple Dragonfly award. She can be heard live on the Cosmo Channel on Sirius XM channel 109 every night from 5-7 pm PST. Dr. Jenn has a private psychotherapy practice in Beverly Hills and is a wife and mother of twins. For more information go to www.DoctorJenn.com.

1 comment:

  1. Raising kids is also a fulfilling endeavor especially when the result are kids who are able to make a difference. Our rule in the house is no TV watching during school days, and the Internet use is also supervised. There is more time for reading books, educational activities, and family bonding time.