In the race to push kids to get good grades in school, parents sometimes forget that it is equally important for kids to become kind, caring and compassionate members of society. A selfish high-achiever may be contributing to the economic welfare of our society, but will lack the tender side of human personality which is shaped significantly by acts of humanity. They may have a test the following day, but encourage kids to give up their seat in public transit to elderly, disabled or pregnant people even if it means they can’t finish reading the text book for last-minute preparations. The spirit of giving should not be limited to annual Christmas charity events, but should be an innate part of who you are. It’s no surprise then that if parents engage in kind acts of cooking meals for the homeless or collecting donations for good causes, kids will emulate this behaviour subconsciously.
Volunteerism is a priceless virtue that may not be compensated monetarily, but will endow rich rewards in the long term. Many families stop after one child, thus robbing the child of precious lessons in sharing with others. Even such children will imbibe a sense of living in a large “human” community when they are stimulated to share their blessings with the less fortunate. Studies have proved that kids who volunteer perform better at school and have high self-esteem.
An even bigger lesson is learnt if acts of generosity are not limited to our species. Rescuing dogs, cats, birds or others from potentially dangerous situations will not only reinstate your bond with mother earth, but it will work magic on your persona, besides giving you a good story to share with friends.
Kids are like blank pieces of paper. Write powerful messages on them so that they go on to become responsible and kind citizens of the world. Start them off young by getting them to help in tidying up the table after meals or washing dishes. Teach them the value of money by getting them to save small change in piggy banks. Once they have collected enough, get them to buy a gift for a homeless person.
Kids may not be straight A holders in school, but some of the most important life lessons are learnt in real life situations. Needless to say, spot and prevent any type of cruel or unreasonable behavior you notice in your kid(s). The worst thing to do as parents is to turn a blind eye to tell-tale symptoms of festering trouble.
Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.