Q: Our children made their birthday wish lists early this year. Reading through them, I’m taken aback at how … well, self-centred they are. How can we adjust their point of view?
A: Most children have a tendency to feel that the world revolves around them. Our culture encourages this problem by telling children — and adults, frankly – to be self-centred, to look out for number one. As parents, we have to work hard to help our children look beyond their own interests and to develop empathy for others.
Author Silvana Clark addresses this issue in her book Fun-Filled Parenting. She suggests that one of the best antidotes for self-centredness is to volunteer as a family. It might be donating some items to a local home, or hosting a neighbourhood car wash and giving the proceeds to charity. Picking up rubbish at the park, taking part in a community service project, putting together care packages for the security guards … the possibilities are endless.
According to Mrs. Clark, volunteering can help children learn four valuable lessons. First, it helps them understand that they’re not the centre of the universe. Second, it enables children to learn responsibility and gain self-confidence. Third, it puts them in touch with community resources and groups that depend on volunteers. And finally, volunteering helps children build relationships with positive role models — men and women who have invested their lives in reaching out to others.
It’s important that we as mums and dads model service and self-sacrifice for our children, but it’s even better if we can get the children involved in the same activities. Make volunteering a family affair! It will draw you closer together, and you just might make some lasting memories in the process.
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