How can you teach your child the importance of a community spirit? Storyberries offers parenting tips and free books about empathy, tolerance and community.
What is a ‘community’?
A community is a set of individuals, whether human or animal, that have various elements in common, such as the territory they inhabit, tasks, values, roles, or the language or religion that they share.
People often group together because they share similar goals, which can be as wide as living safely together or sharing resources. The impulses that therefore motivate people socially within communities can include ties of positive affective feelings, and respect for the established traditions of the community to which they belong.
Educating children in healthy community values is essential for them to enjoy coexistence with other people, whether they be other children of the same age, a different age, or adults. And while communities may change over time, one thing remains a constant: living in communities often requires shared values, and at the very least, a respect for different values, that enables everyone to live together.
How can parents encourage a sense of community in their child?
Parents, teachers, neighbours, friends and strangers both form a part of, and contribute to, a child’s understanding of community, and help define their roles within it. But active parents can help children understand the importance of working together in communities through discussion, roleplay and modelling.
One thing to emphasise is respect: the best formula for learning to live in community is to maintain cordiality and good treatment, so good manners go a long way. In this way, it never hurts for children to learn to engage with their communities on a daily basis and take an interest in the individuals around them. For example, you may teach your child the importance of saying ‘good morning’ and ‘how are you?’ to the people they meet every day.
More tips for enhancing a child’s sense of community:
Other ways in which parents can encourage children to think of themselves and act as productive members of their communities include:
Development of self-knowledge and self-esteem, ensuring that children from early childhood are well placed to define their boundaries within the communities of which they are a part.
Developing empathy; that is, the ability to put yourself in the place of other people in your community.
Conflict resolution without violence. People who live in communities often find conflict with one another, despite their shared values. Teaching children to resolve conflicts, using dialogue and respect for one another, can assist in ensuring that membership within such communities is peaceful and productive.
Cooperation. Learning to share, and work together as a team for a common good. Working in this way can improve mood and give kids a sense of belonging. Reminding children that it is possible to share and enjoy group goals as well as individual goals can lead to greater resilience in children, and may also encourage friendship and camaraderie. .
Tolerance for differences. Teach children that differences may exist between people in communities, but those people all share equal rights within it.
Learning to live with the environment. Caring for the environment is caring for human life. Help your child to understand that human beings have the responsibility to use resources wisely, to live within the world and not to destroy it, for both themselves and the people and animals with whom they share the world, both now and in future generations, is a great way of reinforcing our responsibilities to both communities and ourselves.
Participating in community activities with a purpose can also be of great help in understanding how joint efforts can enhance the common good.
Constantly modelling kindness, respect for difference, and active participation in communities.
The Inside Book was inspired by the quarantine of many countries during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and explains many of the activities that people have adopted around the world during this time to ensure that people do not get sick: hand-washing, wearing masks, staying inside and more. It’s a great picture book for explaining how people can work together to keep communities safer.
Grandpa Farouk’s garden is a home to ladybirds, who help his garden flourish. The story is a wonderful tale and engaging picture book about how animals and humans can often work together to achieve positive outcomes that they cannot do alone.
In this classic fairy tale, a little red hen asks for help from her community in order to bake a loaf of bread. But what happens when no one helps out? The Little Red Hen is a wonderful way of discussing the benefits of people working together in communities, along with the consequences of co-operation.
Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa/ Jade MaitreLuzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.