Raising Caring Kids

Kelly Curtis - Professional speaker, writer and counselor*** Monthly Feature Column ***

Positively Speaking
Building Assets in your Kids

by Kelly Curtis, M.S. from Pass the Torch

Caring kids are everywhere – and we know who they are. It’s the boy that opens the door for his mom when she carries groceries in. It’s the girl that digs under the car seat to look for change for the bellringers. It’s the child that notices his classmate’s shoes are worn and don’t fit, so he asks his mom if there’s any way they could help.

Search Institute has identified Caring as one of the 40 Developmental Assets. Research shows these are characteristics of healthy, caring, resilient kids. The more assets youth have, the more likely they’ll resist risky behaviors in the future.

While we hear a lot about the entitled nature of our society, we also know there is a caring majority, and children are the often the best role models for this. In this economy, there’s no shortage of need, and there’s plenty of opportunity for kids and families to show they care.

Most charities will really appreciate your donations at this time of year, and your kids can get in on the giving with their own allowance or fundraising through chores or neighborhood jobs. But if financial donations are not possible for you, try these ideas:

Model the caring – As with all things, your kids are most likely to learn from what you demonstrate in your daily life. Communicate with your kids about caring acts that are important to you.

Give your time – Visit someone at a nursing home, ring a Salvation Army bell, help your aging parent decorate the tree, or bake for your extra-curricular fundraiser. Bring your kids along to help. They’ll experience the joy of giving beside you.

Find family opportunities to serve – Churches often offer community suppers or charity carnivals this time of year. Contact the organizers to find out if there’s some way your family can help.

Listen for opportunities – If your child is inspired to help someone, figure out a way to help him or her do it. It might not be the way your child originally thought it would happen, but he or she will learn a lot by thinking about solutions to a problem.

No act of kindness is too small! – Make it a family challenge – how many random acts of kindness can we do today? Celebrate when you reach your family goal.

How do you teach your kids to care?

Thanks for joining in to build assets in your kids! I look forward to seeing you again next month for Positively Speaking.

Kelly Curtis is a Wisconsin school counselor and author of Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things. To read more about Kelly, please visit her Weblog, Pass the Torch or follow her on Twitter.


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