Dear Parents: 5 Tips To Raising Socially Responsible Kids
Before I dive into it, let me start by acknowledging how lovely, beautiful, and awe-inspiring this world and the people who occupy it can be. Open your eyes and you can find love and happiness and genuine kindness in even the darkest corners of the world. But amidst this beauty, there is no denying that today’s world is messy. Perhaps the world has always been messy and this is just another iteration of it – but either way, we can always be better. We can be better friends, better teachers, better lovers, better teammates, better workers, better neighbours, better daughters, better sons, better fathers, better mothers, and better role models.
Sadly, you simply need to glance at the news to recognize that of the 7.49 and some billion people on this planet, not everyone is trying to be better. It is the 21st Century and we’re still battling issues of race, religion, gender, equality, prejudice, and the list goes on. As released at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland this January (2017), economic inequality, societal polarization, and environmental dangers are the three trends that will create the most challenging problems for the world over the next 10 years. Alarming? Absolutely. Impossible to do your part? Absolutely not. It starts with all of us being the best versions of ourselves. And it continues with us raising socially responsible kids who also strive to be better.
What do I mean by “socially responsible”? Well, let’s start with the word kind – which is defined as someone being of a good or benevolent nature, actively considerate and/or helpful. It’s really quite simple.
The future of the world is our children.
We raise kind kids, the world is kind.
We raise unkind kids, the world is unkind.
We raise kind kids who strive to be better and do better, the world is better.
Now, in order to for them to do better, our kind kids need to understand the world outside of their little bubble and they need to be empowered to make a positive impact. This all starts with us: parents, teachers, educators, and role models. If you’re reading this, you’re likely already doing a pretty darn good job with your children, but just in case – here are some friendly reminders to help you along the way:
1. Show them empathy and allow them world awareness. Don’t turn off the news. Don’t tiptoe around their tough questions. Don’t keep them in a tiny child-sized bubble. Instead, do engage them in conversations about climate change, the challenges faced by 3rd world countries, the realities of inequality. Let them be kids, but let them understand the world they live in so that they can one day make a real difference – one that is based on a deep-rooted understanding of the positives and negatives that exist across the world.
2. Emphasize the importance of respect. For themselves and others. Raise them to love everyone equally, especially themselves. Without self-love, one cannot truly be open to loving others. Praise their strengths and commend their displays of respect. Monitor their social media use and don’t let them fall into the trap of comparison that so many of us can’t seem to escape. Teach them the power of “thank you” and “can I help you?” and “I love you.”
3. Foster their innate curiosity. Let them discover the world. Let them discover the good…and the bad. Give them books, show them how to explore with an open mind, and empower them to always keep learning. Answer their questions and fuel their passions. Don’t tell them what they should like to do. Let them tell you what they like to do.
4. Challenge them to give back and support others. Get them excited about volunteering in their community at a young age and emphasize the power of giving over receiving. Ignite their passion for helping others by providing them with volunteer opportunities and have an open dialogue about what they learn. Make every day Random Acts of Kindness Day. Teach them to hold doors open for others, to smile at strangers, and to listen genuinely.
5. Provide them with opportunities to think outside the box and learn how to problem solve in the real world. Don’t let them go through the school system without supplementing their learning with experiences that focus on solving real-world problems. In school, they will learn the foundation – but outside of school, they will learn the hands-on skills they need to identify problem areas and make a positive impact. Whether this is in after-school or summer programs or in helping them start their own businesses or in travel, give them a space to thrive in that’s not the traditional classroom.
Once again, the landscape of our world is changing. It’s messy, but the hope of our future lies in the next generation of change-makers. The entrepreneurial mindset is about a passion for solving real problems, creating opportunities in challenges, and adapting and growing in ever-changing circumstances. With programs like Startup Skool, youth are equipped with the soft, technical, and creative skills they need to tackle the world in front of them. Pair that with the kindness, awareness, empathy, and curiosity that you empower them with – and your child will be unstoppable.
As co-founder of Boldly and a long-time supporter of Startup Skool, Shelby is a lover of entrepreneurship & making an impact. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow along on her journey as she explores the fast-paced world of start-ups through her articles and general musings.