How and Why We Should Be Teaching Our Kids Kindness
I think we can all agree that we could do with more kindness in the world. Whether it’s random acts of kindness, kindness gifts or just the general attitude of kindness and gratitude the moments we are giving or receiving kindness are far better than the moments that we are not.
The problem is that kindness is something we have to learn. Children are born to be kind but they are also born to be unkind and we have to help them learn how their words and actions affect others and the benefits of choosing to be kind over choosing to be mean.
Why it is important we teach our kids to be kind
Kindness, empathy, compassion, giving, and thinking of others are all traits most people would want to see in their children and yet we can sometimes inadvertently place undo importance on other things meaning kindness gets a back seat.
In fact studies have shown that children believe their parents think achievement is more important than kindness. Why? Well, when kids do well at school there is often a celebration. We give them a high five when they get a spelling right or take them for ice cream if they come top of the class. But how often do we celebrate kindness?
And children learn from us, they model our behaviour and they want to please us. So they focus their attention on the things that they perceive we think are important. And if we don’t teach them to be kind who will. Worse than that if we are not consciously teaching our children kindness we may inadvertently teach them the opposite. If we complain about people or say hurtful things about them that is what we are teaching our kids.
Top tips for teaching your children kindness
Here are some top tips and fun things you can do to teach your child kindness and start creating a better world.
Model kindness wherever you go
Whether it’s the way you speak to your partner, the way you talk about your relatives or strangers or even the way you talk to you kids it’s important to model kindness as we all know children do as we say and not as we do.
Be kind to the people you love but also be kind to strangers. Smile at people, buy a coffee for someone, give food to the local food bank, take old clothes and toys to the charity shop. And just be conscious that they are watching and listening always.
Help them understand what it means to be kind
Children aren’t always great at seeing how their actions affect other people or even realising that they wouldn’t like it if someone did the exact same thing they are doing to them. So help them see and observe how people are feeling and name their own feelings in the process.
Encourage and celebrate kindness
Let kids know that their kindness makes you proud. If their teacher says they are kind at school, celebrate that just as much as their reading or writing. And if you catch them being kind or helpful point it out and show you appreciate it.
It’s also good to give them lots of opportunities to be kind. Whether that’s suggesting nice things they can do for people, getting them involved in community projects or helping with chores. Practise makes perfect.
Next Up: Random Acts of Kindness Ideas for World Kindness Day