Step Reinforce Selfless Acts

Parents who raise selfless, caring kids don't do so by accident. They intentionally make sure that their kids are aware of the rights, feelings, and needs of others.This means you need to fight the tendency to make your child feel as though the world revolves around him.You'll be much more pleased with the outcome: a more considerate, caring kid.

One of the fastest ways to increase selflessness is by "catching" your kid doing considerate and unselfish acts. Always remember to describe the deed so she clearly understands the virtue and point out the impact it had on the recipient. That will also help her be more likely to repeat the same generous deed another time:

"Did you see Charlotte's smile when you shared your toys?

You made her happy." "Thanks for taking time to ask me how my day went." "Thanks for giving your CDs to your brother. I know you don't listen to rap anymore, but he just loves it."

The First 21 Days

Commit yourself to an FSD (Family Selfless Deeds) project to help your kids recognize what a difference their unselfish acts can make.

Here are some ideas for this project:

• Give part of your allowance to charity. Start a new rule: a portion of weekly allowance must be set aside for charity. Even young kids can put away a portion of their allowance or gift money to give to a good cause. Some families require kids to divide their earned allowance into three categories: money to spend, save, and donate to charity.

• Do a family sacrifice. Give everyone in the family a big cardboard box and ask them to fill it with giveaways, including a few things they really care about, like favorite articles of clothing, toys, books, DVDs, or CDs.Then have your kids help you deliver the boxes—which can be colorfully decorated by younger kids—to your favorite charity.

• Play the Gift of Time Game. Everyone in the family puts their name in a hat and then blindly pulls one out. For the next twenty-one days, each family member commits to spending an age-appropriate amount of time devoted to the chosen person. For example, they can do that person's chore, help him or her complete some project, play a game, or just hang out together. It's the time spent that counts.

• Graduate to anonymous benevolence. The highest level of selflessness is giving away material goods or your precious time without anyone knowing it was you who did it.There is no recognition or rewards. You do it because it's right. This kind of attitude is the ultimate goal of parenting.

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