5 tips for raising caring kids by Harvard psychologists

It is often said that being a parent is the hardest job in the world, and quite rightly. We dare anyone to dispute this: it is undeniable, parenting is never dull.

And it is not simple either, either because life presents us with daily trials, or because often we feel lost, or because just as often we don’t have the answers to the problems we need to solve.

That is why being a parent is a true journey, similar to that our children undertake as they grow up: intense, full of emotions, and of new and exciting experiences.

The truth is that we end up experiencing so much change together with our children, new discoveries and ‘first times’ that turn out to be a learning curve for us too. Who said that being an adult is the same as being mature…?

Self-discovery is a lifelong journey, which at one point crosses over with our children’s own path. That is why we must help them, support them and guide them in the best possible way.

Children are the adults of tomorrow. Let’s help them grow free from stereotypes, let’s help them develop all their senses and become more sensitive.

Bruno Munari

Ok, but what is this mysterious ‘best possible way’? We are often quick to comment and give advice on how things ‘should be done’, but we know very well that real life is a whole different matter.  

And this is where a parent’s job becomes really tough: we stumble, we try, we take it day by day without any opportunities for a dress rehearsal.

What could come to our aid then? Definitely our own attitude towards different situations, the approach we take to facing all kinds of circumstances, also because, by reflection, our behaviour will also provide a template for our children.

Are there however some practical suggestions on how to best approach day-to-day life with our children, from the very first years of life?

Yes there are, and today we would like to share with you the precious advice given by Harvard psychologists about we can best aid our children’s development.

  1. Spend time with them. We are constantly busy and rushing around, but let’s be honest: whenever we have a spare moment –sigh – all we do is waste it in front of our smartphone’s screen.  Tragic, isn’t it? Often we use the same method with our children, parking them in front of computer games or internet videos. Nothing could be more wrong, because the only real connection children seek is that with us parents, and when they grow up what they will remember is time spent with you
  2. Show them they matter. Through your words too. Buying gifts is not enough: letting your kids know that they are a priority for you means demonstrating it with words too.  What does this mean in practice? Seek a dialogue with them, let them know they can confide in you and talk to you about anything.  
  3. Teach them how to solve problems. The best gift you can give your children is teaching them how to face any situation. The secret is to show them that you have faith in them: they will feel immediately more confident. Courage and confidence are the tools that will help them deal with any kind of circumstances in the future.  
  4. Teach them the value of gratitude. According to a number of different studies, expressing gratitude on a regular basis helps us be more altruistic, generous, happy and healthy. It is important for children to perceive this as a gift: so teach them to say thank you anytime you can. And remember, they learn from your example.  
  5. Let them get into contact with other cultures. It is important to get to know other places and people with different stories and traditions, not stay stuck within our own limited reality, but widen our views.  Multicultural friendships should be encouraged, as they help stimulate new interests in children and help them learn different languages.

The world we live in is changing, and we need to learn new ways to educate our children: it is our responsibility to teach them values such as kindness, love and empathy.

Making sure a child grows up with a sense of awareness and respect and with strong ethics is not easy, but we can definitely do it. Being a parent is a job, definitely, but it is the most gratifying one we could ever have.

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