- Family and Parenting
How To Teach Kids Not To Be Selfish
We all want to raise unselfish kids. I hope so anyway. World peace is riding on it! The best way to teach kids not to be selfish children is to be unselfish yourself. Kids are copycats. Modeling any behavior is always your best bet. Encourage kids to be kind and provide them with opportunities to serve others.
Be careful not to turn a toddler off sharing by pushing too hard. Gradually introduce the idea of taking turns and praise every tiny effort. Each rock your baby hands you is a chance to reinforce his innate desire to give and please. When children begin to play together, try using a timer for special toys. Play a special song that makes "tradesies" fun. Offer treats and kisses to reinforce good behavior. Encourage your child to bring a favorite toy to share when visiting a friend.
Sharing is important, but it's also crucial that the child has something of her own that is never subject to sharing. A special toy or stuffed animal that is always mine can help a kid to share lesser items.
Teaching a child to be kind is just as important as showing them how to share toys and cookies. Kids will be selfish until there's something in it for them. Let them experience how good it feels to care for someone else through your own loving behavior. Take that extra moment to look into your child's eyes. The gas bill can wait. The laundry can wait. Acknowledge your child and he will learn to do the same to others. Let him express emotion and he will learn to treat others with the same respect.
Call it advanced sharing for our gimme-gimme world - givng is fun and easy. Adopt the In-N-Out rule. Whenever she receives a new toy or clothes, she has to choose something give up in its place. Donate these items to a children's charity and make sure kids know the who, where, and why. You can also use a child's birthday party to benefit others. Guests bring books or school supplies to donate to local children. Bonus: less clutter!
Give time. Find opportunities to serve your community in which children can participate or observe. They can sort items for church bazaars, serve soup at the homeless shelter, or weed gardens at the community park. I once I took my kids to a workday at a children's shelter. All they did was play while we cleaned, but they got to see firsthand the needs of others.
Responsibility helps a child know that they are not the center of the universe. Household chores reinforce the idea of the individual working to benefit the whole. Mealtimes are an easy start - even a preschooler can set out the napkins. Caring for a pet is another excellent way to teach unselfish behavior. When the dog cries, you need to let him out regardless of what level you've reached on Mario Brothers.
It's not difficult to teach kids to kids not to be selfish. Practice kindness toward them and others and your kids will copy your behavior. Guide, encourage, and praise every effort large and small. You will be rewarded with sweet children and a sweeter world.