We as parents all want to teach our child how to become a kind person,
to be generous to others and to not be selfish. How do we accomplish this? Interestingly, the proper path seems to be somewhat counter-intuitive. You see, the truly, deeply kind person is kind to himself first, and makes sure that all his own needs are taken care of properly, and then when he has built this firm foundation he is in a strong position to turn his efforts to fulfilling the needs of others.
This is the wise path of how to become a kind person, and a generous one, whether towards one's community or towards one's family.
By contrast, those who are self-sacrificing, that is they value only serving the needs of others while allowing their own needs to go unfulfilled, are making a big mistake! How can you fulfill the needs of others reliably over the long haul if your own foundation and self-structure is lacking? Such activity also leads to a deep resentment of the people you are supposedly helping. Ignoring your own needs, be they emotional or physical is one of the most unhealthy things you can do. Dr. Gabor Mate, in his amazing book When The Body Says No, illustrates how when people ignore their own needs and only focus on the needs of others, it actually leads to illnesses such as cancer and auto-immune disorders! We certainly don’t want our children to become that sort of giver. Aren't you a person who deserves kindness just as much as anyone else? Isn't it your moral obligation to take care of yourself? The fact is, kindness to others is most successful when the receivers are viewed as an extension of yourself, that is you're only taking care of them with an extension of the sincere love that you express towards yourself. In that case the great joy and satisfaction such people give themselves spills out into boundless, true generosity towards others. For example, it is very important for parents to take care of their own needs through their partners, friends, family, therapists or doctors, so that they're in a much better position to take care of the needs of their children. However sacrificing your own needs to take care of your children will eventually lead you to not have the ability to care for them and to neglect them. Before one can truly respect others one needs to develop healthy self-respect.
Therefore how do we raise children to become kind, generous and effective givers? By teaching them how to first take care of themselves, by teaching them how important it is to take care of their own needs. This is done by us as parents being extremely meticulous to take care of their needs for them. That is we set an example saying, your needs are extremely important. They are so important that I am going to personally make sure they are fulfilled in every detail. Nowadays this is especially important regarding their emotional needs, because those are the ones that are most often neglected. When the child sees that you take taking care of his needs very seriously he will learn to take care of and respect himself and then as he gets older he will expand his self to include others, and will become a very generous, kind, unselfish person.
Never fear that being generous and kind to your child will lead to him being spoiled, selfish, feeling entitled or not appreciating you because the opposite is true. Being generous to them makes them content, happy and satisfied and turns them in turn into noble givers. Of course healthy limits need to be set, but it needs to be one dose of limits, interspersed with two doses of generosity.
If you are working on teaching your child how to become a kind person, and would like guidance or treatment from a child therapist in NYC, you may call me at 646-681-1707 for a complementary phone consultation. I look forward to speaking with you!