In Part 1, I discussed teaching empathy.  Today’s post reflects on Role Modelling.  Check back on Friday when I conclude this 3 part series with, Connecting Children to Society & the Environment.  

Role Modeling

            The best way for children to learn empathy and to become inspired to make a difference in the world, is by watching their parents and teachers practice what they preach.  Let your children catch you in the act of doing something caring for others: cooking for a sick friend, writing thank you notes, opening the door for others, buying a coffee for a stranger, volunteering at a local charity.  No matter if the action is big or small, children will notice and will emulate your behaviour.  Express gratitude for what you have in your life and encourage your children to look for the positives in every situation.  People that can find gratitude in their lives are much happier and more likely to help others that have less to be grateful for.  Modeling this attitude in front of your children will inspire them to think and act in the same way.

            Role models can also come from society and it is incredibly important, especially in this day and age with so many negative role models for children and teens in the media, to expose children early on to positive role models who are working to help others.  Sharing stories of people who have showed perseverance in the face of adversity and fought to make a difference in an issue they care about, gives children a glimpse of what is possible if they set their mind to something and offers them someone to look up to other than traditional celebrity role models.  When discussing concerns in the local or global community, focus on the people that are doing something to help rather than the ones who are causing the problems.