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How to Be Caring

​As parents, we want our children to be thoughtful and caring toward family, friends, neighbors, teachers and strangers. But how exactly do you help your child express caring feelings? Rather than wait and hope it comes naturally, teach your child what it means to be a caring individual.

To be a person who cares means that you are kind and compassionate to others. You express your gratitude. You forgive others and help those in need. These may be too abstract for your child to understand, but you can teach him or her very specific behaviors that embody the concept. For ​example, you can teach your son to accept apologies from others by teaching him to do the following:

  • Look at the person who is apologizing
  • Listen to what he or she is saying
  • Remain calm. Do not respond with sarcastic statements
  • Thank the person for apologizing. Say, "Thanks for saying 'I'm sorry'" or "That's OK."

As another example, you can teach your daughter how to offer help when a classmate has dropped her books:

  • Ask your classmate if you may help pick up his books and papers
  • Listen to what your classmate needs, such as help finding a certain homework paper
  • Agree to help find the paper and to pick up the rest of the books
  • Stay with your classmate until all his books are picked up

When you put the abstract into concrete behavioral steps, it's much easier for children to understand. And remember: If you want your children to be caring individuals, it's imperative that you be one yourself.

Two great resources you can use to learn about the behavioral steps associated with social skills include Teaching Social Skills to Youth and Basic Social Skills for Youth. ​