Be sure to watch Dr. Kanner discuss this topic on Monday, February 14th @ 8:20am on San Diego 6 News In The Morning.
Valentine’s Day is the day of “love”. Pleasantly, grade school children give Valentine’s cards and candy to their friends creating warm feelings for all. Imagine if Valentine’s Day was everyday where people were loving and caring everyday? The world would be a better place. Love is a powerful fuel that makes everyone feel good. Parents who parent out of love and thoughtfulness raise healthier and happier children who are emotionally stronger and successful then parents who parent through fear or avoidance. These fundamentals then pass down t to the next generation of children as well. So, how do we develop loving children who love themselves, but others too.
“Kids are not born automatically caring”
As strange as it may seem, children are not born automatically to care about others. In fact, because humans are the only form of animal that is fully dependent on their caregivers at birth, it is only after a child takes in what it means to be cared for from the outside, that they can both love themselves and others. Children who do not receive enough early caring and love, both physically and psychologically, never fully develop this capacity and remain self-centered out of inner damage often lasting a lifetime unless they figure it out often with the help of Psychotherapy or Psychoanalysis. For those who did receive “enough” of the early nurturing fuel from their parents, they develop the capacity to care for others too in meaningful ways. But, even these children who have what it takes to care for others, must be led by adults who believe caring for others is an important virtue too.
“Kids must be taught to care by both watching and being encouraged to do so”
Learning is almost always done by observing or listening to others. Children who have not been led, never become leaders themselves . Each person has a certain amount of what is takes to become a giver, but depending upon their environment, the end result will either be actualized or never utilized. Children are normally not able to “put themselves in the minds of others” before middle to late childhood due to both neurological and developmental milestones, and even then, the process is gradual and varies in the depth of understanding the lives of others. Only until adolescence can a child utilize abstract reasoning which allows them to look ahead and in the past allowing for the considering of a life outside of theirs. But, what really shapes, and enhances the process of giving to others, is the influence of important people in the child’s life encouraging the process and leading the child into the rewards of giving that these adults have experienced as well.
“Kids caring together in groups with families strengthens the function”
The earlier a child is encouraged, the greater giving to others will become a life-long process. But, aside from the importance of watching their families give, is the experience of their peers giving as well, and this is just as important as the influence of one’s family. We all know how peers in a child’s life become increasingly influential over time and how sometimes the influence of a peer will temporarily replace the parental position as a child needs to separate from mom and dad in order to be their own person and uses their peers to do so. However, if one’s peers are similar in character to one’s parents, then the child may not need to differentiate as much to feel independent. In other words, kids who pick kids who have similar characteristics as one’s parents often keep certain values consistent over time.
“Adults and Kids who care are considered healthy, whereas those who don’t are not”
Caring for someone other than just yourself is a sign of a healthy person. In fact, the more a person is aware of another, the deeper and closer relationships can become. People who volunteer for example demonstrate more of the trait of altruism than people who don’t. People who help other people also feel better about themselves. Caring for others is truly a win-win but many never experience this part of life and they miss out on the opportunity to do something both personally rewards yet also helpful to others. Given currents conditions of a struggling economy more people suffering than ever before. The time is greater than ever to encourage people to care both about themselves but to care for others as well.
The old adage, the apple does not fall far from the tree is a truism. “Love” is the most powerful emotion to help others feel secure and healthy. Nothing compares the impact of love from a parent to child. It serves as the platform of healthfully loving oneself and others too.