The holiday season is the perfect time of year to focus on kindness. Everyone is in such a good mood that you have lots of examples of what it looks like in action. Of course, teaching children to be kind shouldn’t just be relegated to the holidays, but it’s definitely a good time to start if you haven’t already! Here are 3 ways that you can teach kindness in children:
- Be an example.
It doesn’t matter how many books you read or activities that you do. If your child doesn’t see you exhibiting kindness on a regular basis, it’s not likely to sink in. Look for opportunities to go out out of your way to be nice to others. It can be as simple as holding the door open for someone, or buying coffee for the person in line behind you. Just be kind and let your children see you doing it. Even though it might feel unnatural, every once in awhile, sit down and talk to your child about some of the ways that you’ve been kind to others. Letting them know that you are intentional about kindness will encourage them to do the same. What child doesn’t want to be just like their mama?
- Share stories of kindness.
You can balance out the narcissistic, self-serving portrayal of kids in so many television shows and movies by introducing your children to kind kids. Read them books about real kids like Alexandra “Alex” Scott who started Alex’s Lemonade Stand to help other children like herself who were suffering from cancer. You can share books like “The Berenstein Bears” with younger children to help them start to understand kindness. Kids are like sponges and will soak in the messages from these sweet stories. Be intentional about the types of stories that you are sharing, and start planting the seeds of good will to others.
- Give them opportunities to practice kindness.
It’s one thing to talk to your child about being kind, but it’s another thing to actually give them a chance to actually practice being kind. Find ways to volunteer together as a family, or do something to benefit someone else (like cleaning up their grandparent’s house). When you’re finished, talk about it afterwards. Make sure your kids have an understanding of how important it is that they do for others, and how special they are for being kind and caring.
This is just a start. Teaching kindness in children is a long time commitment that, as parents, it’s our job to do . Just remember to be patient with your child as they are learning to focus on the needs of others rather than themselves. Also, keep in mind that positive reinforcement works to let them know that their kindness is being recognized. Simply saying, “That was really nice of you to let that other person have the last piece of cake”, will encourage them to continue to be kind to others.
What are some ways that you teach kindness to your children?