Kindness, one of the most important things in life, is a critical attribute to instill in our children. Kindness is about creating a culture of peace, it is our greatest self-defense as we negotiate relationships, it is almost palpable and makes a huge difference in all of our lives. Children get their first glimpse of the world from their parents. Home is the place that forms the foundation and the place where parents have an opportunity to help shape their children into kind human beings.
When teaching children about kindness there are several different areas that you can focus on:
Give examples of kindness – Talk to your children about sharing with their classmates and friends, after all kindness is the key to friendships. Discuss ways they can treat siblings and parents with kindness by helping out around the house.
Notice and give appreciation for kindness – When you see your child exhibiting kindness acknowledge the behavior and give praise in whatever way your child appreciates. Whether a simple, “good job” or a big hug, let them know you notice their kindness.
Model kindness – As we know our children see everything even when we think they may not! As adults we can model kindness in many different ways. Hold the door open for someone. Treat the earth with kindness by recycling properly. Speak kindly to your spouse even during a disagreement.
Allow your child to be the recipient of your kindness – Sometimes we rush through our day and forget to show kindness to the people we love the most including our children. Helping them with homework, and giving them advice about how to handle life’s trials display kindness. You can also remind them from time to time as you do these things how these actions are examples of kindness.
In the end, when children understand the importance of kindness and exhibit kindness themselves they will see how good it feels to be kind to others. When you help someone in some way it brings joy to the “giver” as well, and whether your child is 4 years old or a teenager they get it. So do your best to teach your kids about kindness, and feel that joy in your heart as you witness your children’s growth in an area of life that means so much to so many.