MEGASKILL SEVEN: CARING
Are you worried about your child’s ability to care about others, to show affection, to be thoughtful?
“Don’t be so selfish.”
“You’ve got to care about other people.”
Help your child practice caring & having consideration, being interested in others, listening to & learning from them.
I, I, I. Me, Me, Me. These aren’t musical notes. They’re the sounds children make–before they get tuned into You, You, You, & Us, Us, Us. Care is especially needed today.
Family Notes–ages 4-6
Tell your child that each day for three days, you will send each other notes.
Each note will be a special message that will say something nice. The “Something nice” will be something true that one of you has noticed about the other. It might be, “You have a nice smile” or “Your dinner last night was very good” or “I like the way you cooked the chicken.” Let children who do not yet write dictate their messages to you. Children enjoy figuring out nice things to say. Decide on a place to exchange daily notes.
How Does It Feel?–ages 4-8
Start by helping young children describe someone else’s appearance. Ask your child to describe how a certain person–a friend or a teacher–looks. Use drawings.
Ask “how do they feel” questions. Examples: “Jane has just won a race. How does she feel?” “Bill has just fallen down. How does he feel?” “What might each of these friends do, based on how they feel?”
Children will believe you really do understand when you share some “emotional” memories of your own.
Make greeting cards. Decide who needs a greeting card. Does someone need cheering up? Is a friend having a birthday? Do you know a senior citizen who is living alone? Do you have new neighbors who have just moved in?
Let family members “rate” each other. The object is to think positively & to avoid put-downs. What you hope to build is more of an “I care about how you feel” atmosphere at home. Ask:
“How well do I listen?”
“How well do I help around the house?”
“Do I ever make you feel sad? How?”
“Do I make you feel happy? How?”
Think of at least one thing you can do easily that would make your family happy. A kiss, a cookie, a flower, an encouraging word, can give a big, quick lift. Children need to know this so that they can form the habit of making other people feel good.
About Ourselves–any age
Finish these sentences separately & compare answers.
I am happy when__________.
I am afraid of__________.
I am sad when__________.
It’s funny when__________.
My favourite things include__________.
When I am alone, I__________.
I really care about__________.
Our Block–ages 4-6
Draw a neighborhood map together. In the middle of the paper, draw your own home. Draw with a free hand. Don’t worry about exact distances between places. Fill in street names & telephone numbers for places & neighbors.
People Scavenger Hunt–any age
Together go on a people scavenger hunt in your memory. Do you know anyone who speaks another language? Has been in a play? Has a relative who is more than ninety years old?
Think about someone you saw recently who is different. Examples: A street person carrying old bundles, a person in a wheelchair, a blind person.
Who Can Help Me?–any age
Make two columns on a paper. At the top of the left column write: HELP NEEDED FOR. At the top of the right column, write: WHO CAN HELP? Post the paper. Those who can help will put down their names & time they will help. The idea is to get children in the habit of using skills to help one another.
Heroes Among Us–any age
Cut out newspaper articles about heroic acts by ordinary individuals. Examples: Someone rescues a person from a fire; a neighbor stops a robbery; a youngster saves a child from being hit by a car.
Think together about one or two caring, unselfish people, famous or not, whom you admire. What do you like about them? Are there ways to become more like them?
The Gift of Time–any age
Talk about gifts that people love to receive but that don’t cost much money, if any. Think about making gifts at home. What materials are needed to bake cookies, to sew a potholder etc.
Try to think of gifts that aren’t “things”. You might share a special skill in order to help someone. For children, it might be: “I will play ball with my younger brother for one hour.” “I will make my sister’s bed for three days.”
Some of the best things between parent & child are still free! And one of the best & most surprising things between brothers & sisters is the caring they can show toward each other.
When Brian was nine, illness forced him to be bed-ridden for six months. Every day, his sister, Eve, age seven, would come bouncing in from school, ready for some outdoor play. But first she would go in to see Brian & ask, “Want to have my day?” Then she would launch into funny vignettes about classmates & teachers & special events. They would laugh a lot. It was a good time for both of them–the giver & the receiver.
Where had this little girl learned this secret for sharing her day? It was what she saw at home. Both of her parents worked. When they got home, they each told a story from their day, usually a funny one. She listened & she learned.