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Fifty Ways to Show Kids You Care

According to the Search Institute, only one in four 6th- to 12th-graders say their school offers a caring climate. This is stunning! How can we inspire students to show empathy if they fail to see it in us?


Often we actually care greatly, but in our focus on academic achievement we overlook the small things that demonstrate caring. Interestingly, the shortest path to many students' academic success is through their hearts. They don't care how much we know until they know how much we care. Here are some hints. 

  • Learn their names.
  • Remember their birthdays.
  • Ask them about themselves
  • Look in their eyes when you talk to them.
  • Laugh together.
  • Say yes a lot.
  • Be yourself.
  • Notice when they're acting differently.
  • Share their excitement.
  • Send them a letter or postcard.
  • Notice when they're absent.
  • Call them to say hello.
  • Discuss their dreams and nightmares.
  • Learn what they have to teach.
  • Make yourself available.
  • Show up at their concerts, games, and events.
  • Find a common interest.
  • Apologize when you've done something wrong.
  • Listen to their favorite music with them.
  • Wave and smile when you part.
  • Thank them.
  • Point out what you like about them.
  • Clip magazine pictures or articles that interest them.
  • Catch them doing something right and compliment them for it.
  • Give them your undivided attention.
  • Ask for their opinion.
  • Introduce them to your friends and family.
  • Tell them how much you like being with them.
  • Meet their friends and parents.
  • Help them become an expert at something.
  • Be excited when you see them.
  • Tell them about yourself.
  • Praise more; criticize less.
  • Ask them to help you.
  • Believe in them.
  • Delight in their uniqueness.
  • Let them make mistakes.
  • Include them in conversations.
  • Respect them.
  • Be understanding when they have a difficult day.
  • Appreciate their personality, accepting them as they are.
  • Encourage them to help others.
  • Do what they like to do.
  • Encourage them to think big.
  • Celebrate their firsts and lasts, such as the first day of school.
  • Welcome their suggestions.
  • Call them when they're sick.
  • Introduce them to people of excellence.
  • Give them your phone number.
  • Love them, no matter what.

Adapted for teachers from "150 Ways to Show Kids You Care," by By Jolene L. Roehlkepartain. Copyright © 1996 by Search Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota. All rights reserved. 150 Ways to Show Kids You Care is available from Search Institute as a colorful pamphlet that doubles as a poster. They allow people to choose 50 of the items to use not for profit. See their catalog.