Bringing out the everyday hero in your child

Kids are hardwired to help others—but parents can still help nurture children’s altruistic nature.

When Tracy Spinrad’s kids were just toddlers observing the world from the comfort of their car seats, they’d sometimes see people holding up signs at the end of the freeway asking for food or water. “I live in Arizona and it is hot here—really hot—and we almost always try to have water bottles in the car,” she says. 

“I'd always make sure that they were paying attention when it was time to roll down the window and hand a water bottle to someone,” says Spinrad, a professor in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. “I think that's something they need to see—that we’re looking out for others.”

After all, true heroics aren’t just about saving the world from big-screen supervillains. Rather, it’s about everyday acts of empathy and compassion.

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