Good Citizenship in a Me-Driven World

Dr. Kristi Smith, Director of Education & Training   •   July 11, 2018

good cit • i • zen    adjective & noun
having superior qualities to fill a particular role; an inhabitant of a particular town or city 
What do you think of when you see our flag? Growing up, the U.S. flag was proudly flown in our home. My German grandparents met on Ellis Island during citizenship classes and celebrated by being married on the Fourth of July. The flag represented freedom to them and signified a commitment to responsible citizenship for the common good of the country. My grandfather's commitment to "being" a good citizen was evident when he sacrificially donated his ham radio equipment to the metal drives during WWII. A neighbor saw his donation and reported him as a German with radio equipment. Grandfather was relieved from his management duty in the aerospace industry, but he never said anything bad about America — he knew the good his donation would do; he truly was the epitome of a good citizen.
Being a good citizen is about the betterment of society over personal needs. How do you teach a young child to be a good citizen when egocentrism is not only a stage of development, but also a focus of our "me-driven" society? Finding age-appropriate ways to volunteer time and make small donations is one of the best ways to help children grow up to be good citizens. There are many simple ways, such as singing songs at a senior home or picking up trash at a park. July is the perfect time to cull through unwanted toys and donate to a Summer Santa program. Toy donations in July have a greater impact on character development than doing the same in December, because children are not rewarded by Santa with new toys to replace them. Talk about how good it feels to contribute to society and how happy it makes others feel; hold back on any physical rewards. Guiding children to recognize positive feelings associated with volunteering and donating is one of the best tools a parent can have in raising a good citizen. 
Character Values Count
Children's Lighthouse staff are dedicated to helping parents raise good citizens in our early learning schools. Good citizenship has direct ties with our proprietary Lighthouse C.A.R.E.S.sm curriculum through our units such as cooperation, helping others, showing kindness, expressing gratitude, and recognizing and accepting differences.