Building Trust: Infancy Through the Preschool Years (page 2)
Family As Example
From the very beginning, infants are shaping their view of the world and their place in it. A strong foundation of trust, built in a loving and caring environment, is the first step in philanthropy. At its most basic level, philanthropy is the love of mankind. During early years, children learn about love by being loved. They learn the role of rules in a community by having rules set at home. They learn about consequences, fairness, tolerance, altruism, justice, giving, sharing, and caring during their years in the most important community—the family.
"Likely as not, the child you can do the least with will do the most to make you proud."
"Success in life depends more on [the] ability to work with others than it does on [the] ability to work alone. More and more, the ability to be effectively interdependent, as opposed to independent, is the key to success. In a world of specialization and knowledge overflow, success depends upon knowing how to choose the right partners and employees, knowing how to inspire others, to command loyalty, and to motivate groups. This kind of skill is learned in childhood. Indeed, childhood is like a laboratory of social connection. Sharing, negotiating, sticking up for the one who is being excluded, finding something good to say, playing by the rules—these simple tasks of childhood can become life skills of the highest order," writes psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell. 1
Your child will be watching the model practiced by the family to form his or her understanding of the world and to learn acceptable behavior in given situations. Your child's mannerisms and speech will mimic your own or those of frequently seen relatives or friends.
Developing a strong base of trust is crucial during these early years. The most significant gift you can give your young child is the sense of being cared for by you. Feelings of safety and trust allow children to expand beyond their own needs and to begin to appreciate the needs of others. These feelings are the first steps toward becoming a caring and philanthropic person.
|Student artwork by Andrea, Brethren High School, Brethren, MI|
Don't Forget Play
"The ideal of happiness has always taken material form in the house, whether cottage or castle. It stands for permanence and separation from the world."
Use opportunities during your children's playtime with other children or imaginary friends to teach sharing and caring behavior. Just as learning can be fun, fun can be an opportunity to learn. “Your child's development will center around play . . . an essential means of acquiring the majority of adult skills, particularly social ones.” 2 The preschool experience need not be focused on academics, but instead on the social experiences that come from spending time in a group. The abilities to sit for short periods of time, to take turns, and to learn to trust other adults are the beginning of the transition to the school community.
Philanthropy Concepts for the Infant through Preschool Age Child
- Family rules, the reasons for rules, and the consequences for obeying rules and breaking rules (these topics provide the basis for a mature understanding of the need for rules in the larger community)
- The fair application of rules and the idea of justice
- Sharing and being the recipient of sharing
- Learning to wait, appropriately, when other members of the family have needs that must be met
- Helping others around the house and having age-appropriate responsibilities (such as picking up toys before bedtime)
- Listening to others
- Preschool children can begin to learn the basic language of philanthropy ― sharing, giving, loving, saying “thank you.”
Ideas for You and Your Children
Philanthropy and Reading
Young children relate well when you read picture books to them. As infants, they will be attracted to the sound of the words and the tone of your voice, and, as they mature, the sharing or caring in the story. Don't be afraid to repeat favorite stories. Young children begin to repeat and incorporate words and terms used by parents, and relate to what is valued and what is not, based in part on childhood stories.
Reprinted with the permission of Learning to Give. © LearningToGive.org.
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