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Caring Helps Kids Cope With Stress
In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the heightened sense of uncertainty in the world is a challenge for parents. How do we help our kids feel at ease in this world?

We can start by teaching our children to care. In doing so, we can provide them with a particularly effective coping mechanism during stressful situations. Research shows that caring helps the giver as well as the receiver, and with a bit of effort, children and adults alike can develop caring habits, which will benefit the community and reduce their own stress.

What You Can Do to Help Your Children Be More Caring
Parents, these suggestions are for you. If taken seriously, your family will maintain interest in caring and reap the benefits of a more caring attitude.
• You are the first, best and constant model. Your children are taking their cues from you. Take advantage of that in helping them become more caring kids.
• The younger the child, the smaller their world. So keep activities, games and caring talk close to them and to home. As children grow older and their world expands, their caring vistas do too. They develop a broader perspective and the ability to empathize with others.
• Olympic-level talent, even in caring, takes daily training. Care once a day with your child out loud by demonstrating, observing or creating acts of caring. Acknowledge these acts. This need not be a chore. It can overlap brushing teeth or any moment you find an opportunity.
• Expand your caring vocabulary as well as your actions. Figure out different ways to say “thank you.” Don’t just talk about “using your words.” Explain the power some words hold, such as “I’m sorry,” “I wasn’t thinking” or “I understand what you are telling me.” Prove how powerful words can be by using new words for caring.
• Help your child see the rewards of becoming a care champion. Explain the benefits and importance of caring. Praise and acknowledgment are good reinforcements. Remember the old adage “what goes around comes around.” It works. The value of caring is intrinsic and soon it will reinforce itself, becoming its own payoff.
• Make caring a daily priority. Use our “20 Caring Tips for Kids” to check your own caring quotient. Score yourself: 0-8 a day is below average, 9-14 is average, 15-18 is above average and 19 or above is superior. Most of us can improve our caring.
• Help your kids become Care Champions!
Read, use, print and save our “20 Caring Tips for Kids”.

Betsy Weaver, Ed.D., is a founder of the regional parenting publications industry and producer of LocalMom.com and ParentingQA.com. Check these sites for more resources for families. E-mail her at betsyweaver@attbi.com.

From United Parenting Publications, August 2002

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