These days, there’s no way to avoid the tough issues facing our global community. Media from all angles and locations cover all the world’s problems; poverty, discrimination, mass shootings and political persecution are all being reported in vivid detail, and it’s hard to absorb and process all of it. And explaining it to children can be even tougher…you want to keep them aware, but don’t want them to feel scared or overwhelmed. Here’s a few tips to make social responsibility an attainable priority for your kids.
Scale It Down
While us adults realize the complex and underlying messages behind such broad terminologies as “Save the Rainforest”, “End World Hunger”, and “Black Lives Matter”, kids might not see it that way. These are examples of valid but far-reaching issues that affect people in different ways. Having children identify with these enormous topics can seem to be insurmountable, as in “How can I, one kid, end world hunger?”. It can be too much, and can quickly alter the young person’s ideal of their power and effectiveness in dealing with such a huge problem. One of the best ways to break these issues into digestible parts is to simplify them by focusing on a specific example of how this affects one family in a single part of the world. This can be in a spot across the globe, or in your own state or county, but it’s important for your child to be able to relate to a smaller, more personal problem.
Quite often, we don’t realize the problems well enough ourselves to be able to explain it. Child labor is still an enormous problem across the globe, yet it’s not prevalent in our neighborhood. Even issues that are in our neighborhood can pass below our radar, and learning more can make for easier discussions. This article might be too much for a child to understand, but its well-written and photographed content can be sampled and absorbed by even a casual reader, and gives a kid relatable information to help them understand. Whether you’re searching for data to keep yourself up to date or for child-friendly content that you can safely share with your kid, don’t stop seeking the truth. It can help all of you.
Here’s where you can really show children how they can make a difference, and this can happen in a number of ways. Some highlight some degree of sacrifice, like donating toys or clothing, or giving blood. As with all of these actions, make sure you give them concrete proof of how those small steps make a difference. If your kid gets some birthday or holiday money and expresses a desire to try to be helpful with it, consider a more immersive way for them to contribute. Organizations like Kiva give families a chance to evaluate and choose which cause to give to; lending is also an option, showing the power of microfinance and accountability in one fell swoop. Local efforts like fundraising and volunteering are great ways of showing love to the local community, even if the funds or work go towards a far away cause…getting other kids in on the effort can really add to the awareness. Finally, shop local and buy consciously. Make sure to involve your kids in the process of why this is important, as they’ll understand more than you think. Buying fair trade products ensures that workers are treated fairly, middlemen are cut out, and, if bought locally, that some proceeds benefit your neighborhood. Small conscious steps by adults will help kids realize the good they can do, and even being aware helps raise the collective consciousness…and that’s a good thing.
Have you had experience talking to kids about social responsibility? Any tips you’d suggest? We’d love to hear from you!