Are you planning on starting a family as a single parent? Perhaps you already have children and want to raise them to be empathetic, joyful adults? Becoming a healthy and effective single parent can be quite the challenge, but raising an empathetic and happy child doesn’t have to be an impossible task. In this mini guide, presented by Kids Need Both, we’ll break down three key steps and resources for raising empathetic kids at any age.
How to Parent More Effectively
Our top three tips for raising children more effectively take some practice to implement well. Be patient with yourself and your children as you apply these methods to your parenting style.
Establish Empathy in Early Development
Babies are sponges for knowledge. That knowledge also includes emotional intelligence. One of the biggest lies that a parent could believe is that “too much” love and affection could result in a coddled, spoiled child. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you care for a baby under eighteen months of age, you are teaching them to care about other people in the long-term. When you respond promptly and positively to a baby’s needs, such as hunger and fear, you are showing them exactly how a healthy person responds to a person in need.
Focus on Explaining the Small Stuff
Up until about six or seven years old, children begin to develop the ability to imagine scenarios and relate to other children’s situations. For example: A six year old might see a commercial for a children’s hospital and be able to understand that it would be unpleasant to be stuck in a hospital without their friends or toys. However, children at this age are not at the right place to understand complex problems and solutions. When your child begins putting together the initial pieces that form empathy, guide them by presenting scenarios. If their ice cream falls onto the sidewalk, wouldn’t it make them feel better if a friend shared their ice cream? Focus on small, easy-to-understand scenarios without getting too complex.
Lead by Example
Children absorb so much when it comes to emotions, behaviors, and actions. You can help your child develop the ability to identify problems and take action by giving them the right experiences. One excellent way to help your child build empathy as a parent is through volunteering. Around the age of 10, your child will begin to form their own opinions about things and develop their own interests. Is your child interested in food or cooking? Consider using a volunteer search platform to find child-appropriate volunteer opportunities to attend with them, such as serving food at a food kitchen.
You can also set a good example by going back to school. Although the idea of enrolling in college may seem impossible, especially when your hands are already full as a single parent, there are programs online that can help you achieve those goals. Deciding to go back to school may inspire your child to follow in your footsteps.
Raising children can be difficult, particularly when you’re a single parent, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Furthermore, raising an empathetic child requires you to participate in their lives and guide them through the way life unfolds. There’s work ahead, but it’s all worthwhile. Written by Amanda Henderson
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