Don't Be Over-Protective
Of course, you don't want to upset your kids unnecessarily, but you can't -- and wouldn't want to -- shield them forever from all social and personal problems. Many kids lie awake in bed thinking about poverty, war, or homelessness, and if they keep their worries to themselves, they can become overwhelmed and feel powerless to change things. You can help simply by talking about public issues that come up in a way that makes it clear that people can do something about them. Tell your child that problems can have creative common solutions, such as forming a baby-sitting co-op, helping pass a school-bond levy, or improving the local recycling program.
When 6-year-old Michael Crisler, of Denver, heard about all of the people killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, he thought, "We're neighbors. Neighbors are supposed to help each other." With his parents' assistance, he went door-to-door, and store to store, and raised $37,000 -- more than any other individual in the country -- for the victims and their families. Now 11, Michael is promoting the 168 Pennies Campaign -- asking people to donate one cent for each person killed in the bombing -- to raise money for the children's section of the memorial being built in their honor.