The tactics are different from those used for encouraging achievement.
Despite the significance that it holds in our lives, teaching children to care about others is no simple task.
Genetic twin studies suggest that anywhere from a quarter to more than half of our propensity to be giving and caring is inherited. That leaves a lot of room for nurture, and the evidence on how parents raise kind and compassionate children flies in the face of what many of even the most well-intentioned parents do in praising good behavior, responding to bad behavior, and communicating their values.
Praising their character helped them internalize it as part of their identities. The children learned who they were from observing their own actions: I am a helpful person.
Tying generosity to character appears to matter most around age 8, when children may be starting to crystallize notions of identity.
If we want our children to care about others, we need to teach them to feel guilt rather than shame when they misbehave. … The most effective response to bad behavior is to express disappointment. … The beauty of expressing disappointment is that it communicates disapproval of the bad behavior, coupled with high expectations and the potential for improvement
Children learn generosity not by listening to what their role models say, but by observing what they do.
People often believe that character causes action, but when it comes to producing moral children, we need to remember that action also shapes character.