Raising a Caring Child

Everyone remembers how mean the kids in school were. Well, things haven’t changed. How do you raise your child to respect other people’s feelings?

When it comes down to teaching your child to care for others, the golden rule is treating your preschooler the way you want him to treat others; with respect, generosity and kindness. This is one of the first things you can do to raise an emotionally aware child. The next step is teaching children about how other people feel. Sounds simple, but it gets a bit more complex. Let’s first take a look at how your actions affect your child.

The New Golden Rule
So you want to raise your child to treat others as your child himself wants to be treated? Well, like most advice, the best way to share advice with others is to practice it yourself. That means being attentive to their needs. Because children tend to learn about the world through imitating their parent’s behavior, it’s especially important to show them caring behavior.

Getting Over the Egocentric Point of View
The most important thing you can do is realize that your preschooler has an egocentric view of the world. That doesn’t mean your preschooler is selfish. It means that he doesn’t understand other people’s perspectives. Another term for this phenomenon is ‘theory of mind’; your child lacks ‘theory of mind’ right now because he doesn’t understand that other individuals think and feel differently from how he feels.

In fact, your preschooler can be very caring and still be egocentric. For example, if daddy is sad today, your child may give him his favorite stuffed animal because that usually makes him feel better. In other words, while he’s making a caring gesture, he (perhaps wrongly) assumes that having a stuffed animal will also make daddy feel better.

Your child will soon grow out of the egocentric point of view; this means that he will understand that other people have feelings different from his own. It does not mean that he will automatically start caring about others. This is what you have to teach him. And you can do that as soon as simple communication is possible between the two of you.

Tips on Raising Caring Kids

1. Label feelings: help your child label feelings. When he’s smiling, comment that you are glad that he is ‘happy.’ If he’s had a bad day because things didn’t turn out the way he wanted, let your child know why he is feeling ‘frustrated’. This raises an awareness and association with moods and their names.

2. Praise caring behavior: when your preschooler shares a game with his brother, let him know you are proud that he’s making his sibling happy. This forms a positive association with his positive behavior.