Six-year-old Derek C Lalchhanhima from India took a chicken to the hospital after accidentally running over it with his bicycle.
As a teenager from the United States, Tanvi Barman founded No Birthday Left Behind, a non-profit organization aiming to host a birthday party for all low-income kids in San Francisco's Silicon Valley.
Ishaanvi, when four-year-old, shaved her head to support her ailing grandmother suffering from physical and mental pain after being diagnosed with Stage 4 T-Cell Lymphoma.
From the little boy who saved a chicken to a young girl who shaved hair for her grandmother, these stories manifest the importance of instilling humanitarian behaviour in children. By definition, humanity is the state of being humane, more specifically, being kind to others. The principle of humanity means that we must seek to address human suffering wherever it is found, giving particular attention to the most vulnerable.
Early childhood offers a critical window of opportunity to shape a child's holistic development trajectory and build a foundation for instilling humanitarian behaviour. Human beings form most of the values, beliefs, and ideas about the world at an early age.
Summer vacations, evenings, weekends— as a child, we spend most of the time at home. Home becomes the ideal place for children to practice kindness with their family and carry it out into their communities after. As children learn how kindness affects their parents and siblings in their home, they realise what an influence they can have on others as well. Soon after, they can see how being kind changes those around them and even themselves. Much of children's knowledge is derived not from their direct experiences with the environment but rather from the input of others.
For example, our lives have been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the frightening news from different parts of the world, we see people's amazing resilience and dedication to help each other amid the pandemic. For every hurdle we encountered during these challenging times, we have had each other as a pillar of support.
So, how do we shape children's ethos and perspectives? Teaching the crucial art of sharing and caring is essential for the moral development of a child. When children are taught to share things and care for others, they will learn to collaborate with their peers, practice kindness, and do things selflessly for others.
We must create and nurture an environment that promotes a sense of sharing and caring. It is important never to force a child to share; instead, encourage sharing through tasks and activities. Practicing the act of sharing with a child can be done by setting up situations and opportunities where they can learn to share. Parents can give them some small gifts, snacks, or toys to share with everyone in a room. Teachers can involve them in small activities at school to feel the joy of sharing and caring. Art projects like painting and drawing can also help to encourage children to share the materials and ideas with others.
When we give children the best start in life, the benefits are enormous for every child and the societies we share. To build a healthy and sustainable living environment, we must start imparting humanitarian behaviour in children from an early age.
Leena Sharmin Haq, a Primary Bangla Teacher,
International School Dhaka