TIP 3. Make caring for others a priority and set high ethical expectations.
It’s very important that children hear from their parents and caretakers that caring about others is a top priority and that it is just as important as their own happiness. Even though most parents and caretakers say that their children being caring is a top priority, often children aren’t hearing that message.
A big part of prioritizing caring is holding children to high ethical expectations, such as honoring their commitments, doing the right thing even when it is hard, standing up for important principles of fairness and justice, and insisting that they’re respectful, even if it makes them unhappy and even if their peers or others aren’t behaving that way.
A clear message. Consider the daily messages you send to children about the importance of caring. For example, instead of saying to children “The most important thing is that you’re happy,” you might say “The most important thing is that you’re kind and that you’re happy.”
Prioritize caring when you talk with other key adults in your children’s lives. For example, ask teachers and coaches whether your children are good community members in addition to asking about their academic skills, grades, or performance.
Encourage kids to “work it out.” Before letting your child quit a sports team, band, or a friendship, ask them to consider their obligations to the group or the friend, and encourage them to work out problems.