Before I even get into the thick of things on this post I have to share a funny video with you. I saw it in my Facebook feed and shared it on my page:
So let’s just get this out the way – there are about a million ways to parent. Some people say you need to do this, some say you need to do that. One thing I’ve learned from being a mom all these years is that you have to do what is right in your home for your children. Parenting one child to another can be completely different so find what works and run with it. Okay?
Now that that’s out of the way — let’s talk about ways to teach your kids to be kind and why it’s even something of value. Obviously I think kindness is important (since I wrote a book about kindness and all). But it can be a struggle to teach sometimes. Today’s society is very focused on happiness and doing whatever makes you happy at all costs. I’d like to turn that around a bit and help people realize that being kind and focusing on other people is the key to that. Here are some things to think about and how you can encourage kindness from your kids:
- You are the example
Have you heard the song – Kindness Begins with Me? In it, it says:“I want to be kind to everyone,For that is right, you see.So I say to myself, “Remember this:Kindness begins with me.”
This is not one of those times that you can say “Do as I say, not as I do.” Nope, you need to act the part. Be the example to your kids. Talk kind words, do kind deeds, be actively looking for opportunities to show love through kindness. While we can’t be perfect all of the time, remember that your kids are always watching and try to lead with kindness.
- Kindness begins in the home
You’ve heard the saying – It takes a village. Right? Well with encouraging kindness, don’t expect other people to do that job. Teachers, babysitters, extended family members, etc have other roles in their lives. If they do, bonus. But it really starts in your home.
- Don’t reward kindness
The biggest reward kids should get from kindness is the happiness they bring to the people they are being kind to. If a reward is attached, it could become more about the reward than the act itself. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t acknowlege it though. Pointing out when they’ve done something nice or considerate for someone else will make them proud and help them recognize other opportunities.
- Encourage empathy
Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
I think kind kids are the ones that have empathy. Instead of thinking about themselves all of the time, they put others first. This is hard to do as an adult, let alone as a kid. But there are ways that you can help them be more empathetic. By surrounding kids with different cultures, abilities, etc, you are giving them an opportunity to not only learn from others but to share feelings and understand someone who is different. I have had a number of experiences with my family where my heart almost burst with pride from seeing my kids interact well with kids who are different from them.
- Mind their manners
It seems as though manners aren’t as big of a deal as they were when I was growing up. My Mom always said “Mind your p’s and q’s” and I knew exactly what she meant. Kids can be kind by being respectful and using their manners. I wrote a post all about guidelines for manners as it’s something important.
- Use object lessons to illustrate kindness
Sometimes it can be hard to understand fully the impact that being kind can have. By using object lessons, kids can see a little better the importance of kindness. Here are some that I like:
– Object lesson with toothpaste
–How kindness creates ripples
- Get out there and do
Beyond talking about it, just get out there and do. Do kind things as a family. Set goals together and tackle them. If you aren’t sure where to start, might I suggest my book Make and Share Random Acts of Kindness? Or I have a whole section on RAOKs. Note: not all acts of kindness have or should be random. But the more you get out there and do, the more natural it will come to you and your family.
I’d love to know how you teach your kids to be kind? Or what kind of things you do to encourage kindness?