By Christine Louise Hohlbaum
We all want responsible, caring, healthy, happy children. Add any number of positive adjectives to the list, and we want it for our kids. The job of raising highly conscious children is not always an easy one. Here are some ways in which our family has made progress in the area of consciousness-raising.
It starts with the small things. Finding age-appropriate tasks your child can do will add to his sense of responsibility to pull his weight in the family unit. A two-year-old can generally put away his own plate once he has finished a meal. A one-year-old cannot.
When my daughter turned five, I told her it was time for her to take on some responsibility of her own. She agreed vacuuming her room once a week was a reasonable undertaking. She gladly took the task off my hands. I beamed as I watched her maneuver the vacuum cleaner around her room.
You don't have to be Buddha to teach your child compassion. While your oldest child may not feel much compassion for his younger brother who breaks his block towers or favorite toys, you might want to start out with animals as an example.
Getting a household pet is one way to teach your child about responsibility and compassion. You might not be ready for that commitment, so here are some other ways to achieve the same thing.
If you see a ladybug, have your child hold it and talk about respect for all living things. Encourage your child to make a nest for the ladybug and to care for it. My children started a snail farm for a time. After they were finished with the activity, they carefully placed the snails back into the grass. Through this exercise, they learned snails live in a different environment than they do, but they could still "convene" with them for a short time.
Birthdays are great mile markers for your children to take on a bit more responsibility. Sit down with the birthday boy or girl and ask him or her questions about what they would like to do this year. Have your child write down some goals such as learning to swim, ride a bike, or to drive. Make a list of family goals you might share. Developing such skills early on will help your child gain the confidence he or she needs for the future. At the same time, you will gain the satisfaction that you have laid the essential groundwork for years to come.
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