All parents want to raise kind children. Whether you want your child to grow up to save the planet or to just be nice to their friends, there are some ways to encourage your children to grow into caring, compassionate individuals.
Believe They Can Be Kind
If you treat a child as though they are always up to no good, they soon will be. If you assume that they do want to help and have concern for other people’s needs, they will usually live up to those expectations.
Model Positive Action
What you do and say is important. Let your children see you be kind, such as running errands for an elderly neighbor, comforting a friend, or supporting an organization like Age of Learning. Talk to them about what you’re doing and why it’s nice to do things for other people or support causes we care about.
Treat Them With Respect
This can be as easy as alerting your child that playtime. Don’t just decide it’s time to leave the playground, for example, and grab your children away in an abrupt manner because it’s time to go home. This is a disrespectful way to treat another person, no matter how young they are. You might also point out successful conflict resolution that you encounter together in the world. For example, at home, you could tell your child that Mommy and Daddy might not always agree, but you listen to each other, and treat each other with respect instead of dismissing what the other says or feels.
Teach Them To Pay Attention To People’s Facial Expressions
This is the first step in learning how to understand another’s perspective. People are more like to reach out to someone else who is in need when they are able to better imagine how the world seems from somebody else’s point of view. Facial expressions can help you to tell this.
Teach Your Child That The Way They Treat Others Matters To You
This is part of modeling good behavior yourself. For example, your child might find it funny if they see someone get splashed by a passing car driving through a puddle. Instead of laughing too, show them it’s better to be kind. Point out that the person who got splashed isn’t laughing. Ask your child to look at them and notice their facial expression, and that their clothes are dirty and wet.
Don’t Let Rudeness Pass
If someone is rude to you comment on it, and ask your child what they think, but don’t be rude back. This shows your child that when someone is mean or rude, it has an impact, but that you don’t have to rude in response.
Show your child that you notice when someone was kind. Whether someone stops to let you out of a parking space or lets you skip ahead in the supermarket queue, comment to your child that it was a nice thing to do. If your child is kind to someone, acknowledge and praise their effort.