In a period of uncertainty and seemingly endless bad news from all across the globe, many parents give importance to nurturing kindness in their children.
While unkindness is no new phenomenon, it has certainly gained strength through this new age of technology with anonymity. Suddenly faces are replaced by masks, and one mistake in a post could lead to a thousand malicious comments from strangers online. But as parents, we can counter this and protect our children by spreading kindness starting from our households.
In a perfect world, kindness shouldn’t even have to be taught but is instead a normal humane reaction to others. But even when the current world we live in is far from perfect, we can still make it a better place by raising our kids to be the kindest they can be.
According to the first-ever Parents Value Study, parents in 2020 valued kindness the most as a primary trait they wish their kids to have. Experts have even found that kindness in children makes them happier and may even improve their self-esteem growing up.
But how to teach kindness to a child? Of course, kids don’t just magically become kind overnight, but we can raise them to be good by nurturing kindness within your family then gradually to others. To ensure our kids become part of a kind and caring generation, here are ways on how to teach kindness to a child.
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How To Teach Kindness To A Child
The Power Of Words
While kids might tend to speak out their mind more often than not, they have yet to acknowledge what choice of words would come off as rude or mean to those they’re speaking to. Which is why it’s important they learn a few respectful phrases and social cues by hearing it first from you.
1. Saying “please”. Using the magic word not only demonstrates proper manners but humbleness as well.
2. Apologising. Saying “sorry” helps kids acknowledge whether they’ve made a mistake or have wronged someone. They may also start to understand how a sincere apology could do wonders in making someone they might have upset feel better.
3. Praise their acts of kindness. When you see your child being kind to their peers and engaging with others in a way that excuses kindness all on their own, make sure to praise them and vocally celebrate their caring actions.
4. Showing gratitude. A simple “thank you” can make someone’s day, whether to the bus driver, a waiter, or anyone else who has done you a favour with or without prompt. Showing appreciation for what others do for you is part of developing good behaviour in kids.
5. Learning a new language. Discovering other cultures and traditions can help kids to show acceptance, regardless of ethnicity or gender. Knowing multiple languages may even help your child understand the perspectives of other people.
Doing Good Deeds Together
Kind actions may also speak louder than words as anyone could always use a helping hand now and then. You can teach kids to be kind and caring to others firsthand by doing acts of kindness together.
1. Let them help with house chores. Giving kids little chores around the house such as putting away their toys, doing the dishes or helping you with the cooking makes them feel like they’re a valuable part of the family which would encourage them to be kinder, according to experts.
2. Set an example. Let kindness start from home by being a good role model for your kids. Research has even found that kids with compassionate parents grew up to be more generous.
3. Giving to others. Donating even a small amount can go a long way. Teach generosity among kids by letting them donate clothes they may no longer wear or things they don’t use anymore to charity.
4. Comfort someone who needs it. When someone is down, encourage kids to be there for that person and offer help when needed. You can start this by comforting them firsthand to see how things can be solved when someone is there to listen.
5. Showing support. Even when your kid loses in a game or gets a failing grade, tell them they’ve done their best and cheer them on for next time. This could also lead them to have the motivation to support those who may need it.
Let your little one identify acts of kindness by giving them opportunities to develop more caring and giving behaviours.
1. Spark their imagination. To encourage your child to help those in need, let them put themselves in others’ shoes so they could better understand just how much a person is going through and why they need all the support they can have. You can also use characters from the cartoons they watch or the books they read to set an example of kindness.
2. Free play. Studies have shown that pretend play, playing with dolls or having pets can encourage empathy among kids and help them become more caring to others.
3. The value of sharing. Motivate your child to share their toys or snacks to their peers whenever they’re in school. This helps them learn how to be fair to others and find out that when we give something away, we may get something in return.
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Teaching Kids To Be Kind To Themselves
Before kids could become kinder to the world around them, you may also have to teach them to be kinder to themselves. Experts have found that this is best taught in kids through social and emotional learning (SEL), which helps kids master their emotions to better interact with their peers. SEL can improve your child’s personal and social well-being and develop responsibility, care and concern for those around them. This is an effective way of how to teach kindness to a child.
Here five key social and emotional skills that will help kids become kinder and more caring to others and themselves.
- Self-awareness helps kids identify their emotions as well as set their own personal goals and values.
- Social Awareness involves developing empathy for others which parents can do by asking kids how they would help someone in need.
- Self-management provides children with the ability to sort out what they’re feeling and cope with struggles they may be having.
- Relationship Management can help your child make better relationships and communicate better with their peers and become good listeners.
- Responsible decision-making is important for kids to make their own way in the world. Parents can show a good example to their kids by making sound decisions themselves in front of them.
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Improving Unkind Behaviour
While kids might not already have a proper grasp of what’s good or bad, we can raise them to correct a few unkind behaviours they may have caught on. While discipline may not exactly be in the same wavelength with kindness, a bit of it could help in setting effective ways to grounding your child’s mischievous side. Proper and fair discipline among kids could help teach them habits of kindness and respect, says Thomas Lickona, PhD, a developmental psychologist and author of How to Raise Kind Kids.
- Setting clear expectations. To ensure your child knows how they should behave respectfully to others, setting clear expectations can eliminate confusion and establish kind behaviour.
- Show them examples of good deeds. As mentioned earlier, setting a good example can promote kindness in your home as kids tend to mimic their parents first more than anyone else.
- Address when they misbehave. While kids don’t mean harm, it’s still important that you discuss how hurtful their actions may have been to the other person to grasp how unkind they were and how to fix it.
- Make reasonable consequences. Enforcing punishments that fit the misbehaviour could last an impression on kids in refraining from doing the same thing in the future. Helping them make amends from their unkind act could also open their eyes to what they can do better.
- Always let them know when their actions are good. As kids may not fully understand whether their actions are respectful or otherwise, always let them know whether what they did was good or bad. When they do start to act in kindness, parents should praise them for their behaviour.