5 steps to raise a good child, according to Harvard
If your child is outstanding, or if he is a top scorer in your school's soccer league, it is likely that there will be a good celebration at home afterwards. But, when do you do something good for others? According to the study carried out by Rick Weissbourd, a psychologist at Harvard University, only one in five children believe that their parents are concerned that their children are good people, above their academic achievements or their happiness.
Personal achievements or happiness are not the most important
Weissbourd's initiative to create a 5 step guide to raise a good child, has gone around the world. The project Making Caring Common ("Making solidarity common") conducted at Harvard University has led a survey of 10,000 high school and high school students about the values that were most important to them. The students were from 33 different schools from all over the United States and from different social classes and races. The 80 percent of these children considered that personal achievements or happiness were the most important.
Although in the past parents and educators have assured that they value goodness more than personal achievements, it is evident that children do not believe them. When asked if they were reflecting their parents' priorities, the students answered affirmatively. In fact, the vast majority agreed with the phrase "my parents are more proud to get good grades than to be a supportive member in my community."
The problem is that, according to Weissbourd, when educating children with these priorities, there is a higher risk of "harmful behaviors, such as being cruel, disrespectful or dishonest." According to several studies, 50 percent of students admit having copied in one exam and 75 percent have copied the homework. In addition, living in accordance with this standard causes stress and depression.
As much as we explain to our children that be kind and help those who need it is important, the message they receive is that the priority is to get good grades and be happy, even at the expense of others or to sacrifice such important values as charity and honesty.
How to raise a good child in 5 steps, according to Harvard
To change this educational model and for the children to learn to put their priorities in order, Weissbourd provides us with the guidance to raise a good child in five steps.
1. Be concerned about others your priority.Children need to learn the balance between their happiness and that of others. They need to hear you say that helping others and being good is the number one priority. A key part of getting them to internalize this is to subject them to important ethical expectations, such as keeping their promises, even if it makes them unhappy. Do not worry, they will not be for a long time. In the long run this will help them in their relationships with others and, therefore, to achieve full happiness. To help them reorganize their priorities, try this:
- Change "the most important thing is to be happy" for "you be good".
- Make sure that you address others with respect.
- When you interact with other adults in your life, emphasize the importance of kindness. For example, ask your teachers if you help others in class.
2. Make it easy for your children to practice kindness and gratitude.Several studies show that people who usually express their gratitude are usually more willing to help and are more generous, compassionate and forgiving; and also more healthy and happy! As in all good habits, the important thing is repetition. Try this:
- Do not reward him for every good act like setting the table. The child is expected to help at home normally, and to be good with his family and neighbors. Reward only good works that are exceptional.
- Talk with your child about good or bad actions you may have witnessed. Work with your children kindness.
- Make giving thanks become a habit at meals, at bedtime or in the car. Give thanks together for those who have helped you during the day.
3. Teach your children to have perspective.Most children care about their family and friends. The goal, however, is for our son to learn to care about someone outside his circle, such as a new child in class, the school custodian, or even someone who lives in another country. It is important that children learn the perspective of the people with whom they live and those of the most needy. To get it, try this:
- Make sure your child is kind and grateful to the people he meets on a daily basis, such as the bus driver or waitress.
- Encourage him to care for the needy. Give him ideas such as comforting a classmate with whom others are involved.
- Use the newspaper or television to teach him the problems children face in other countries.
4. Be an example of morality.Children learn values by observing how the people around them act. We need to practice honesty, justice and charity so that our children can learn it from us. To learn how we want you to behave with others, try this:
- Try to volunteer once a month and, if possible, be accompanied by your child.
- Pose your child an ethical dilemma like "Should I invite my neighbor to my birthday if my best friend does not like him?". Teach him how you would solve it, guiding you by the good values that you are teaching him.
5. Help them handle negative or destructive feelings.Sometimes, even if our children want to help others, an anger, shame or envy can get in their way. We need to teach them to handle these negative feelings so that they do not prevent them from worrying about others. Try this:
- Ask your child to stop for a moment and take a deep breath. That inspires through the nose, expires through the mouth and that counts to five. Show it when it's quiet. When you get angry or upset, put it into practice. In the long run, it will do so automatically and you can express your frustration without letting it affect your behavior.