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Justice: raising kids who care

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About Linda

Linda Van Voorst is a mother, children’s program director, and creator of a character development curriculum called Justice Kids. Currently, she lives with her husband and family in Bend, Oregon.

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away and not so different than what you and I call home, there was a parent; someone who spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to instill values, virtue and good character in their child.

That parent might be you. That parent is definitely me. But this is no fairy tale. Life is tough, and raising kids is hard work. I often find myself wondering how to help my child recognize right and wrong, develop empathy and choose kindness – especially when I’m not looking.

This dilemma has motivated my calling and that of my co-workers here at Antioch Church in Bend, Oregon. We have spent years researching and developing resources to help kids develop compassion, kindness and concern for others.

I want to raise kids who are in deliberate pursuit of the interests and welfare of others. Do you? If so, check out our “Favorite Four” below. These four free resources are either created by us or have become a favorite of ours. We’d love to share them with you!

Pursuing Justice

This book is a great read for adults, and is available at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com. It also offers kid-friendly lessons and activities to help teach kids about the importance of justice and care for others.

Each chapter discussion provides answers to questions kids often have, and suggests an activity that will allow you and your family to put these ideas about justice into practice.

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Kid Bios

The easiest way to develop empathy in kids is to stimulate their imagination. Kid Bios give children the opportunity to read true, age-appropriate stories about kids from around the world.

Each Kid Bio gives our young people the opportunity to imagine themselves in someone else’s situation and think through how they would feel in that child’s circumstance.

Each story also helps parents teach about other cultures and help their kids get involved and pray for different areas of the world.

Check out a Kid Bio sample below!

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Family Activities

We love it when families have fun together, and it’s even better when that fun has a purpose. Our Family Activities feature fun games, craft projects, experiments and challenges for adults and kids to do together, and also provide a suggested conversation starter to make each activity purposeful in developing value and virtue.

Check out three Family Activities below. To learn about the other 150+ activities, visit www.justicekids.org.

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Computer Games:

Screen time is a reality for many families, and we have found three games that challenge kids to use their computer skills to help others. What an awesome way to use technology for a great purpose! Check out FreeRice, Charitii, and Answer4Earth by clicking here.

Don’t you wish you had a Fairy Godmother to help your kids care for others, make wise choices, and share their belongings?

While we cannot guarantee that any of the above resources will provide a happily ever after, we hope these resources will help your family develop a strong sense of right and wrong and a deep care for others.

We’d also love to know what things have helped you instill character, values and virtues in your kids. Feel free to leave us a comment with your experiences or questions!

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Comments

  1. Finding the opportunities to do this with young children was such a challenge but we soon realised we were over thinking it. We don’t get one time. Which seemed to be our worry we have many opportunities. Once that clicked we felt better so worried less.

    We’re loving the series of books what would you do by Sandra Mcleod, I think her name is. Mixed in with dinner conversation as requested. It works for the older children. My youngest chimes in with other ideas as he’s trying to grasp these concepts and does understand somethings.
    melitsa´s latest post: Being ready to support through the new school term

  2. While I don’t have children yet, one thing that I was reminded of by your mention of ‘Kid Bios’ is the DK ‘Children Just Like Me’ books I used to have when I was younger, I used to look at these over and over again fascinated by how other people live in different countries and cultures. I feel that is an understanding that is critical in helping a child grow up understanding others and how not everyone has the same lifestyle.

  3. This is so important, raising compassionate kids who are understanding and caring of others. I know this is high on my priority list as a new mom so thank you for the free resources!
    Jessica´s latest post: Island Life and the Pursuit of Diversity

  4. Modelling! As with other character traits, modelling is the surest way to instil positive characteristics.
    This is something that I didn’t/don’t really worry about- I am caring and empathic by nature (meant to be a description not a self compliment) and I find that my children followed suit. I model kindness, even in small gestures, engage people of all classes, colour, creed in genuine conversation even in casual encounters and I talk to my kids, all the time.
    I spend a good deal of time with them and we discuss everything, especially feelings, lessons I’ve learned when I’ve behaved badly and how my actions or theirs, good or bad, may have made others feel.
    I have such lovely, thoughtful kids and feel privileged to be their mom.

  5. I pray that I will raise my son to be a loving and caring person. If he does that than I know I didnt’ fail as a mother.
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  6. One thing I learned recently from my husband (a music therapist) is this: studies show that kids learn empathy primarily from their father or other significant male in their life. A lot about devloping empathy is experiential and learned in the context of watching dad in action. I find that fascinating… of course we have a role to play as moms, but it seems like having dads involved in these discussions is particularly valuable.

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