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Harvard Psychologist Richard Weissbourd: You Should 'Prioritize Kindess' For Your Kids

07/29/2014 12:39 pm ET | Updated Jul 29, 2014

Most parents want their kids to be caring individuals, but how many actually portray that sentiment on a daily basis?

According to Richard Weissbourd, co-director of the Making Caring Common Project, not enough parents are.

“Part of what we’re urging parents to do here is walk the talk. If you really are saying that you want your kid to be caring, then you have to make that the expectation day-to-day,” Weissbourd said in a conversation with HuffPost Live's Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani.

We also sometimes “prioritize our kids’ achievement over their caring towards others,” he said. For example, by letting kids “fudge their community service,” parents send an unofficial signal that prioritizes the child’s interests over others.

Weissbourd gave a few recommendations to help parents in this predicament.

“One thing we might do is instead of saying to our kids the most important thing is that you’re happy, [instead try] saying that the most important thing is that you’re kind,” he said.

But modeling this behavior for kids isn’t enough, Weissbourd added. Practicing what we preach in our own interactions with other adults is just as important.

“So when you come home from work, rather than talking about your accomplishments that day, you might talk about the ways in which you helped someone else out, or something kind and caring that somebody else did that day," he advised.

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