I came into the room where the boys were playing to find the three-year-old sitting on the floor balling. Beside him his three older brothers were playing peacefully with their cars completely undisturbed by their brother’s problem. It was not because their mother and I were not trying to teach our sons to be considerate of the feelings of others.
Teaching civility is a high priority throughout the childhood years. That is more years than it takes a graduate student to earn a PhD. We are all born with a self-centered nature. Teaching a child to respect the property and feelings of others is a real challenge. With careful instruction, stories, examples, correction and discipline the process has to be repeated over and over again.
It is best to start the process at age two and continue to at least age 12 as new situations arise. These years are most important because the ones who are teaching and disciplining the child are the ones that are also feeding, clothing, and sheltering the child. They are the ones to whom the child goes when he is hurt or afraid. In other words, it is easier for the child to understand that when he is disciplined it is because loving parents care for him..
As the child continues in school he must continue to learn the importance of respecting the feelings and property of others. It is a beautiful thing when a person has compassion and goes out of his way to help another person in trouble. The attitude of wanting to help others in trouble will always be an asset in whatever field the person serves.
Parents, take advantage of the time you have with your children. You are providing a great service to our community.