You Are At: AllSands Home > Kids > How to raise socially conscious children
Children nagging you for a new toy again? They claim that the super-mega superheroes set that they have is obsolete, now that there’s Super-Mega, Version 2. You give the dreaded thumbs down and instantly, the most reviled distinction is bestowed upon you: mean parent. The kids want to know why their friends have more toys than they do, and mention (more than once) how lucky their friends are to have such “cool” parents. They finish by deducing that you certainly must not love them, because if you did, they wouldn’t have to ask twice.

Tired of the guilt trips and manipulations? Want to teach the kids that it’s not necessary to keep up with the Joneses? How about that fantasy where they understand just how fortunate they are, and realize that there are others who are not as fortunate.

Rome was not built in a day. This will take some time and patience, but breeding charitable children is possible. Check out the following suggestions on how to raise socially conscious kids.

Talk to them. Sit children down at a time when they are not focused on their wants. Choose a quiet time—perhaps just before bedtime—when you can expect their undivided attention. Calmly mention that there are less fortunate children in the world. Point out material items that they do have and explain that these children do not have them. Also remark that they are lucky to have family members who love them and care about them. Adjust the content for age appropriateness.

Read to them. Read books, both fiction (better for younger children) and non-fiction, that impart social responsibility. It might be as basic as a storybook character making a socially responsible decision, or as detailed as a report on homelessness (better for older children). Turn to your school or local library for assistance.

Set an example for them. Get involved in a community project and include your children. Deliver food to the needy together. Serve meals at a soup kitchen. Organize a clothing or canned goods drive. One clever mother found out that a battered women and children’s shelter needed various sundries. As it was close to Easter, she and her children assembled bright-colored Easter baskets filled with the necessities, plus toys, candy and other goodies. She then brought her children to the shelter’s intake room, to play with the arriving children and to present them with their “gifts”. Be especially careful with young children. You don’t want to give them nightmares; you just want to gently make a point.

Be patient. It may take some time before you actually get through to them. Continue setting a positive example: children emulate their parents’ actions. If social responsibility is introduced and reinforced, it will soon become second nature, and you will successfully raise charitable children.