‘Building Resilience:’ C is for contribution
Special to the Sun
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the eighth in a series of articles about Kenneth Ginsburg’s “Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Children Roots and Wings.” For previous installments, search Resilience at http://www.tahoedailytribune.com.
Contribution is interwoven with competence, confidence, connection and character as an integral thread in the web of resilience. Contribution directly fosters resilience because it helps children gain a sense of purpose, something positive to strive toward and achieve. Parents and communities who insure there are ample opportunities for children to contribute will help build the next generation of leaders.
Contemporary culture is so focused on material things it is easy for children to get swept up in this tide because they see it everywhere. To counter this influence, or at least put it in perspective, parents should support opportunities to give rather than receive. Children will learn that the universe does not revolve around them or owe them everything they desire. Whether they raise money for natural disaster relief, collect recyclables, help clean the environment, or tutor younger children, they gain a more realistic perspective of the world and their place in it. They recognize themselves as part of larger communities in which they can make a difference.
Teens who contribute to their communities will be surrounded by reinforcing thank youʼs instead of the low expectations and condemnation so many teens endure. Also, when teens are held as good examples, they will be less likely to adopt behaviors not befitting role models.
It is a powerful lesson when children realize the world is a better place because they are in it. They will not only take actions and make choices that improve the world, but they will also enhance their own competence, character, and sense of connection.
The ultimate act of resilience is to turn to another human being in times of need to ask for help. It is never easy, but sometimes necessary. We also want our children to become adults who can seek help without shame. If they have the experience of service, they know that it is deeply rewarding to help others, so they will hopefully turn to another person more freely in their own times of need.
Before we can foster this sense of contribution, here are some things to consider:
Do I communicate to my child (at appropriate age levels, of course) that many people in the world do not have as much human contact, money, freedom, and security as they need?
Do I teach the important value of serving others? Do I model generosity with my time and money?
Do I make clear to my child that I believe he can improve the world?
Do I create opportunities for each child to contribute in some specific way?
Do I search my childʼs circle for other adults who might serve as role models who contribute to their communities and the world?
Do I use these adults as examples to encourage my child to be the best he can be?
Next time: The 6th C: Coping
Teri Andrews Rinne is the children’s services librarian at the Truckee Library, 10031 Levon Ave. Call 530-582-7846 or visit http://www.mynevadacounty.com/library.
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