07 Nov Strong Communities Start With Parents
Communities thrive when people work together for the greater good of the whole. Children learn skills such as responsibility, teamwork and collaboration through the opportunities they have to interact within their community.
While it takes a community to educate a child, the role the parent plays is essential. Since children learn from example, it’s up to parents to lead the way.
Here are 7 ways you can help your children connect and contribute to their community:
1. Get To Know People
Spend time with your children getting to know the people in your extended family and neighbourhood.
Encourage them to ask questions and listen. Taking an interest in other people is the first step to developing meaningful connections. They will learn to appreciate the different people, skills, and values that exist in their community.
It will help them learn to go beyond the surface and find out what makes other people tick, helping to develop their empathy.
2. Support People When They Need It
By actively supporting others, children see that people’s wellbeing is affected by the actions of others. They develop a sense of belonging through both the giving and receiving of support.
There are many ways to show support to family, friends and community members. A few include:
- Making a craft for someone who needs cheering up.
- Collecting the mail and watering plants for someone who is away.
- Running errands for someone who is going through hard times.
- Visiting a nursing home or hospital to spend time with people within.
Giving to the community helps teach children responsibility and compassion. It also has many other great benefits including:
- Reducing depression by supporting and helping other people.
- Improving confidence, happiness and optimism.
- Boosting the immune system for better health.
- Decreasing challenging emotions.
Pick an organization close to your family’s heart and volunteer as a family.
Giving reminds children to be grateful for the good in their own lives and helps reduce a sense of entitlement. With reinforcement, they can also learn that people less fortunate are equals and that they may be going through hard times and need support.
5. Participate In Team Sports or Group Activities
Working as a team for a common goal develops a strong sense of belonging while teaching cooperation, respect, and communication.
Team sports are a great way for children to interact with other young people their own age, creating valuable friendships. Getting involved in community events gives them access to people of different ages, cultures, and situations.
6. Encourage Independence
Children learn confidence through taking appropriate risks. They learn resilience by experiencing disappointment, challenges, and failures. They learn to succeed by being responsible to their commitments.
While it can be tempting to help, avoid jumping in when your child is working on a project, participating in an activity or interacting with someone in your community.
7. Practice Self-Awareness
Children who can identify, feel and release emotions in a healthy way are happier and have richer relationships. This is an ongoing process and takes effort to strengthen.
Helping your child deal with their emotions can be challenging, especially when you are feeling strong emotions yourself.
Encourage the whole family to learn to deal with their emotions in a healthy way by:
- Listening when someone is sharing what is bothering them without trying to make it better
- Naming the emotion they are experiencing. If someone doesn’t have the words, they can use the Elephant Poster.
- Choosing to move through the emotions in a healthy way. One of my favourite ways to release emotions is journaling. Here are some other suggestions.