Building Resiliency in Children Through Contribution

by Angie Williams

Last month I had the opportunity to attend a community meeting at which two high school students provided opening statements. I was impressed by their confidence in front of a large group of adults as well as the articulate ways they expressed themselves. In addition, I found it inspiring that they were using their time and talents to contribute to the community around them.

One of the areas of social/emotional development we have written about in the past is resiliency. It is important for children to build skills that help them work through the inevitable challenges of life and not feel defeated by the obstacles they may face. Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, who practices at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and has spent decades studying the topic, has developed a framework called The 7 C’s: The Essential Building Blocks of Resilience. The fifth C is Contribution, which is when children understand the world is a better place because they are in it. Dr. Ginsburg writes:

“Children who understand the importance of personal contribution gain a sense of purpose that can motivate them. They will not only take actions and make choices that improve the world, but they will also enhance their own competence, character, and sense of connection.”

We can begin affecting a child’s sense of Contribution at a young age. Some ideas of Contribution that young children can participate in include:

  • Picking up trash on your next walk to or from a local park.
  • Hosting a Little Free Library—or simply adding books to one.
  • Drawing pictures, making baked goods, or even shoveling the sidewalk for an elderly neighbor.
  • Choosing a favorite charity to which the whole family can contribute.

Does your family have special ways that foster the idea of Contribution? We’d love to hear comments on our blog that we can share.

Finally, Dr. Ginsburg encourages caregivers to think about the following questions as they relate to Contribution:

  • Do I communicate to my child (at appropriate age levels, of course) that many people in the world do not have as much human contact, money, freedom, and security as they need?
  • Do I teach the important value of serving others? Do I model generosity with my time and money?
  • Do I make clear to my child that I believe she can improve the world?
  • Do I create opportunities for each child to contribute in some specific way?
  • Do I search my child’s circle for other adults who might serve as role models who contribute to their communities and the world? Do I use these adults as examples to encourage my child to be the best he can be?

 

Contribution can be a key ingredient in raising resilient children by empowering them with a sense of purpose and creating connections to others and the world around them.

 

We’d love to hear what your family does to foster a sense of Contribution in your child(ren). Please send us a note that we can share back here with all of our EFC families!