“Being considerate of others will take you and your children further in life than any college or professional degree.” – Marian Wright Edelman
What does it mean to be considerate? Being considerate means to be careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others; showing careful thought. Therefore, teaching your child to be considerate starts with empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and identify with another person’s feelings. It includes regulating one’s own emotions and is central to success in social relationships. Children who are empathic are less likely to use aggression. Our Bully-Proof your Preschooler Series, Part 2 is on EMPATHY. It states, “The first step in teaching empathy is to help your child learn to recognize and label emotions. “The feelings that adults label for infants and toddlers on a regular basis are the foundation for emotional vocabulary,” says Emily Adams, a training specialist for the Early Head Start National Resource Center. With sign language, you can help your child begin to identify and label feelings even before your child begins talking. The Signing Time video “Family, Feelings and Fun” teaches signs and songs for feelings that appeal to children of all ages. You can make this Feelings Flip Book with your child – and and watch demonstrations of signs for feelings in the Signing Time Video Dictionary.”
Here are six skills and attitudes from Larissa Dann that will help children learn to consider others:
1. Model consideration to children by taking them seriously.
– When you take someone seriously, you will be less likely to use power over her or him.
2. Remember that children do not misbehave. They behave to meet a need.
– Problems happen when our children’s needs interfere with us meeting our needs.
3. Listen to children.
– Active listening shows our children that we are considering them and taking them seriously.
– Modeling consideration of our children’s needs through active listening encourages our children to consider others when their needs are not met.
4. Use three part I-Messages.
– This is an essential skill in terms of helping our children learn how to consider others. A three part I-message looks something like this: “when . . .(describe child’s behaviour) I feel . . .(a feeling word) because . . . (describe how you, or another person, have been affected) “.
– An I-Message comes across as an appeal for help, allowing a child to consider both their parent’s needs and their own needs.
– By including the cost to the parent (such as time or effort) a child can consider what they need to do to help their parent out of a predicament.
5. Shift gears.
– Listening to our children if they feel defensive models our consideration for them. They are then more likely to change because they feel heard and understood.
6. Solve conflict with no-lose conflict resolution. AVOID reward and punishment.
– No-lose conflict resolution ensures that everyone’s needs are heard.
– Avoiding rewards and punishment means avoiding the use of parent power which can lead to compliant children.
“Be [kind], for every man is fighting a hard battle.” – Rev. John Watson (aka Ian MacLaren)
It’s one thing to harbor a sense of empathy and another to put it into action. Considerate people are not only capable of figuratively putting themselves in other people’s shoes, they also actively choose to view the world beyond themselves. Their sense of compassion for others drives them to connect, and they derive personal joy and satisfaction from this selfless exchange.”
Abdulla M. Abdulhalim, a University of Maryland Ph.D. states, “I think when someone is not acting this way, just the behavior itself seems really selfish… No one will ever understand the perspective of another unless they take that person’s hand and consider things how they see it.”
How do I model consideration for my child?
- Smile – Smiling and looking people in the face is one of the best ways to model consideration.
- Using Manners – Using manners shows consideration for those around you. As you use good manners it reinforces them for your child.
- Serve others – Doing a random act of service or even better, recognizing a need and doing something about it is a great way to practice empathy.
As you practice consideration throughout your daily routine, your child will continue to learn from you and develop this skill. Remember, your actions speak louder to your children than your words, so consider how you show them consideration will speak volumes to their behavior towards others.