Especially for Parents: Teaching Children to Take Care

by Angie Williams

One of the important lessons of the pandemic is that we are all interconnected. We have each learned to sacrifice for one another, for our communities, and especially for those most vulnerable in our society. And while individualism is a hallmark of American culture, for the past nine months we have been reminded that “we all do better when we all do better.”

It is a lesson that many of us, as parents, as educators, hope to pass along to our children. And not merely at certain times of the year or under certain circumstances, but in a way that becomes ingrained in how our children look at and express themselves in the world. I think about the character in the fabulous children’s book, Sofia Valdez, Future Prez, who has an inner drive to help others and make the world around her a better place. She sees the needs of the people in her community and uses her own time and talents to help meet those needs. How do we raise children with those values?

We have written in the past about cultivating empathy in children. First and foremost, we can help children learn empathy by acting as role models. We can talk with children about the choices we make to help others, treat them with kindness, and understand their perspectives. Stories and books are a great, age-appropriate way to dive into how characters relate to one another and to ask your child questions about characters’ motivations and actions.

In our family, we are thinking about how to not only introduce ideas and conversation around empathy but also consistently and intentionally practice empathy and caring for others in meaningful ways so that it becomes a habitual part of our family life.
The Making Caring Common Project from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education continues to publish a variety of activities for families to use as they practice taking care. These include:
  • Story Reflections
  • Gratitude Scavenger Hunt
  • Capturing Caring Moments
  • And many more
Check out all the resources from this project here:
Finally, we would like to thank you once again for taking care of the EFC community this year. We wish you all a happy and healthy new year and look forward to 2021 with hope and possibility.