Two months ago I moved to Northern California. Our backyard has a deck and lots of bare dirt. I was talking with some of the children in our extended family (ages 9, 7 and 5) about ideas for the dirt. The five-year-old suggested that we put in a “beaver pond.” Other ideas floated were for a butterfly garden, lizards, birdhouses, sunflowers, ladybugs and “a bird’s nest—tiny.”
As we talked, the youngest started making a checklist (I recognize those boxes with check marks!) and another was sketching out the garden design (see above). When I noticed their affinity for planning, I decided to turn their ideas into a S.M.A.R.T. goal for myself and show it to them. Maybe I could model for them one proven method of moving ideas into becoming a reality.
Unstructured summer days lie ahead. What activities can we use to enrich kids’ lives while having fun at the same time?
Strengthen a child’s empathy this summer and you may see these results in the upcoming school year*:
- more relaxed physically, with lower levels of stress hormones
- pay attention better and learn more effectively
- fewer behavior problems, such as aggressiveness
Children learn empathy very well by doing acts of service.
For example, you make a donation to a food pantry and you discuss with your children about how others are hungry. Sheila Sjolseth shares her experience.
The service acts where I see the most distinctive difference in my boys are when we interact with others in our community—those acts where they helped someone in a completely different situation than their own. By far, the acts of service that have been the most profound were when we helped:
In an old issue of Psychology Today, I ran across an article featuring the words of Dennis Rosen, M.D.
Sometimes children seem so self absorbed and so preoccupied with gadgets and toys, we wonder whether they are aware of, or care about, what goes on around them. We like to tell ourselves, “Something” must be wrong with this generation.
Except there isn’t. The problem lies with us, the adults, who could be challenging them to think about others, and leading them to action.
Prior to going to Haiti to volunteer at a hospital, Dr. Rosen spoke to his daughter’s second grade class about the conditions there, showing them pictures of what life is like for children just like them. Following his visit, the class collected over 7,000 vitamins for him to give out.