A good deed means doing something good for another without the expectation of anything in return. No two finger prints are identical and the same goes for a child, as each one is unique and special in some way. We very often hear parents say, “We were not like this when we were this age. The children of this generation are very different”. In retrospect, if we try to analyse, what has really changed in society? Is it children or the world around them that has changed?
In today’s media frenzied world, more focus is made on issues such as abuse, harassment and trauma, so that children today are distanced from daily values like kindness, sympathy, generosity and humaneness. As adults, we are blessed with a profound knowledge enabling us to differentiate between the good and the bad. Our children however need help from us until they become adults themselves. This will help them in facing the challenges of the world. It is easier to encourage stronger values when they are still young and their minds are not yet corrupted by the fraudulence that exists in society.
The way we act in the presence of our children provides them with a blueprint and will set the tone for what kind of adults they will turn out to be. As parents, we can help them to accept responsibility for their actions and encourage them to participate in good deeds. Most children emulate the actions of their parents and elders. If you want your child to be obedient and respectful, set a good example in front of him or her. You can encourage your child to use the words ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’, when you use these words yourself. If the parents respect each other and the elders around them, the child will automatically start respecting everybody. It is imperative for parents to make their children realise that speaking the truth and being honest is always better than telling a lie. You should read books and stories to your children about the adverse results of lying. They should always be encouraged to give unconditional love to humans and animals without the expectations of anything in return. By asking our children to help others, they learn that the world does not just revolve around them, but includes others who may benefit from our help. Simple tasks like helping parents clean the house, doing the dishes or attending to a sick neighbour can encourage your children to gain satisfaction from helping others.
With the advent of nuclear families and single children, children do not always learn how to share. They should therefore be allowed to mingle with other children, especially the underprivileged ones so that they understand the importance of sharing and learning how to care for others. Getting what they want without sharing with others makes children self centred, a habit which can stay with them during adult life.
Tips on how to encourage your children to perform good deeds.
Dr Saliha Afridi, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (USA), at the Human Relations Institute, offers a few suggestions. These can help parents develop their children into well-mannered individuals capable of performing good deeds.
- Parents can encourage children to do good deeds by modelling. Children do as they see - and if parents are charitable and do good deeds, children are more prone to act in similar ways.
- Parents can also encourage discussions with children about their family values; social interest being one of them. Families can talk about having a responsibility not just to their family and friends but to their community and society as well.
- Parents should not give sermons about these values but rather engage children in active conversations and action. Children do not develop pro-social behaviours when parents are too strict and demanding of them or if they ‘guilt’ them into doing good. It is important for children to learn responsibility when they learn in an environment of kindness, respect, firmness and dignity.
- It is also important to keep in mind that a child who is self-reliant is more likely to be socially responsible. In our society with super mums or super nannies, children are robbed of the opportunities of doing things for themselves. They do not develop the belief that they are capable through their experience of doing anything for themselves, let alone the community. Parents should try not to do anything for their children that they can do for themselves.
- Lastly, it is important for parents to create opportunities to do well. Whether it is giving them choices of local volunteer activities, or empowering them to create their own family charities.
Parents always wonder and worry about their children’s future and what kind of adults they will turn out to be. Children are immediately influenced by their surroundings and their parent’s own behaviour. Parents who cultivate and encourage their children to take responsibility for their actions and practice good deeds can go a long way in assuring that the children grow up to be of good character. As a loving and nurturing parent, it is your job to support them to embrace and recognise good qualities. It becomes the collective responsibility of the elders in the child’s life to help them absorb all these good qualities and values.