IT’S THE SMALL THINGS
I have been asked many times over, time and again, what it takes to raise socially aware citizens. Rather, children who are in touch with reality and who are socially connected with their community, and the world around them. This seems like quite a daunting task to any parent, but even more so now that children are restricted from leaving their homes. More difficult, yes, but that is not to say that it is impossible. Like many other areas in our lives these days, creativity is just more essential. Though I am not yet a parent, I have worked with many toddlers in my line of work, and have seen some of the best examples from friends and family I have the highest regard for. Allow me to share my two cents worth on the topic.
First and foremost, let us not forget how adaptive and resilient children are. In fact, in many ways, even much more so than us adults. They are like clay – extremely moldable – in the same way that they too are sponges who absorb absolutely anything and everything in their environment – from things said, to actions done.
More likely than not, they will mirror what they observe and follow in the foot steps of their elders. Ever thought about how children say the darnest things? Well, more often than not, you have probably said it around them before. In other words, the only way to effectively teach is by example, and making sure your children are socially aware is not at all an exception. Provide them proper mentorship, and show them first hand that you are involved in social causes. I assure you that they will soon follow in your foot steps.
Charity begins at home. I cannot emphasize this enough. The smallest acts of kindness beget kindness and love. These are gestures that children will most likely imbibe and emulate if they are exposed on a daily, if not regular basis. For instance, I was raised in a household where I was made aware that it is but a privilege to have house help, and these staff were my playmates, and are no less than family.
Children who are spoken to properly and are well-informed are more likely to become socially aware than those who are sheltered and deceived from the truth.
Lastly, I have always believed in the famous saying that for children to be grounded, they need to physically touch the ground. They must be well-exposed to nature, the outdoors, and the reality that the plight of poverty exists around us.
At a time when it is quite restrictive for children to be outdoors, you can make sure that you allow your child to be a kid – to roll on the floor, and get dirty. Expose them to household chores, and have them help out. Turn it into a fun activity for them.
Give them the opportunity to realize at an early age how blessed they are, and in turn, teach them to count even the smallest of blessings. You will be surprised what gratefulness this will yield.
Suffice to say, modeling is the best way to teach youngsters, and we must take advantage of their flexibility, how moldable they are and their receptiveness while they are children. These are crucial years for social and cognitive development, and habits learned will be carried with them for the rest of their lives.