How you introduce your toddler or preschooler to the world is important. Children who are taught that there is trouble lurking around every corner or that that anyone who is not just like them is "evil" or a "lesser human" are being handicapped in terrible ways. Think about the messages you pass on to your children. The majority of Americans are kind, generous, interesting folks of all sizes, ages, colors, and ethnicities. Yet if you watch the news with your child and stress over the terrible state of the world without counterbalancing this with a message of love and tolerance toward others, you give your child a strong message that the world is a fearful place. This is a horrendous burden to place upon his shoulders.
I am not suggesting that you forgo the logical lessons of wise parents (don't go somewhere with strangers without our blessing, don't walk alone at night, don't invite strangers at the door into our home, etc.). However, to give your child the message that anyone could be a kidnapper or every person who says "hi" to them on the street probably has evil intentions is to raise a child who never feels safe. Good parents model for their child friendly interaction with strangers. Seeing this, they learn that they are part of a larger community that needs their participation and nur-turance. They need to learn (through watching their parents) that they should respect the rights and dignity of others. When children experience and participate in their community, they feel safer and more secure in the world.
Successful families teach their children at a very early age that generosity and doing good deeds is an important part of life. You should help your child discover the value of themselves through helping others. Have her help you bake cookies for a neighbor who just had a family tragedy. Have her help you collect used items to donate "to those who have less than we do." Teach your child that by helping others, a person develops a good feeling about herself. Children never exposed to the value of helping others are doomed to become arrogant and this behavior often leads to a lifetime of unhappiness. Arrogant children often have a terrible time making and sustaining friends because they turn people off with their attitudes.
Your young child should discover that contributing to the welfare of others has many personal rewards. For one thing, helping others is a critical aspect of a person's self-esteem. Serving the needs of your infant and young child makes you feel better about yourself as a parent. Your child has similar feelings. Teach your child that by "helping" Mommy or Daddy in a million ways every day (hugging, cooperating, loving, etc.) he makes you feel better. This will help him feel better about himself. This reciprocal relationship of giving and getting, receiving and loving back is what builds the positive relationship between parents and their children and people and their communities. This giving and receiving is an important key to one's self-esteem and the reason that helping others feels so good. Teach your child by modeling giving behavior (to your church, synagogue, community center, neighbors, etc.). Teach your child how good a person feels when you experience helping and then receiving positive feedback from others.
Was this article helpful?