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Helping The Community and The Kids

A silver lining to the current pandemic is that it offers us an opportunity to teach children the importance of helping and caring for others. Right now, almost everyone could use as much support as possible, and kids are in a perfect position to spread some of that kindness. Fortunately, there are many ways to help others while still following all of the CDC’s guidelines around safe social distancing.

Why is it great to encourage children to help?

Not only does helping others make everyone, including children, feel good. There’s real evidence that it’s great for mental health, too, allowing you to cope with feelings of loneliness or sadness, something that more and more children are doing. Face as school closures, and social isolation persists. There’s also plenty of evidence that generosity and happiness are linked, so if your child tends to be moody or struggles emotionally during the pandemic, it can help combat negative feelings. It can also help the donor control their emotions in general, which can help them avoid depression and improve their overall well-being.

If you think your kids are too young to be pushed to help others, remember that research shows that babies as young as six months can show signs of empathy. A study from the University of Washington published in Scientific Reports earlier this year found that babies can be naturally prone to altruism, as evidenced by a willingness to give up a snack for someone else, even if they are hungry. In a press release, the study co-authors shared that “we think certain family and social experiences make a difference” in encouraging this kind of kindness. “If we can discover how to promote altruism in our children, it could move us towards a more caring society.”

Where can families start?

Experts say the easiest place to start is with yourself. In other words, try to be a role model. “Modelling, also called observational learning, is one of the most underrated and misused tools by parents,” Alan Kazdin, a psychology and child psychiatry professor at Yale University, recently told CNN.

Point out nice things you do for others, such as calling to check in with a grandparent or neighbour, as well as those times when you see or hear someone nice or generous to others, such as while running errands. In fact, social distancing itself is a charitable act, as many of us give up things we may really want for the greater good of society. Over time, children receive the message that helping and supporting others, even if it is just a simple act, can really make a difference in someone’s life.

The best part is that you don’t have to do anything special to teach your kids to be kind and generous; you just need to be kind and helpful. Something as simple as treating others at home with kindness and patience, let alone how we treat people who are not in our immediate family, can profoundly affect the role children …

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