- I ♥ You! Raising Your Child to be Kind and Caring
Kind children…caring children…and heck, just all-around nice kids are plain fun to be near. They’re considerate. Respectful. Well balanced. And, quite frankly, utterly delightful.
In all honesty, however, kids usually don’t turn out that way by accident. Quite the opposite, they are nurtured and guided from an early age. Then as they get older, it is much easier for them to make friends in school. They share more easily and are pleasant to be around. They also eventually grow up to become compassionate, moral, and reliable adults with admirable qualities and an inner standard of goodness that helps them make wise life decisions.
Now that you’re entrusted with the development of your own child’s character, how can you help teach kindness and empathy towards others? Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me:
- Lead by example. To quote the great humanitarian, Albert Schweitzer, “Adults teach children in three important ways: The first is by example, the second is by example, the third is by example.” No truer words were ever uttered. Show kindness to others through your own genuine actions, and your child will do the same.
- Enable your child. Work with your child to show them how to do good and kind deeds. Together, bake muffins for a sick relative. Walk the dog of an elderly neighbor. Bring extra vegetables from your garden to a food bank. Once you start looking, opportunities for random acts of kindness are around every corner.
- Stress that feelings matter. Discuss feelings with your child,theirs and others. For example, some open-ended questions to encourage dialogue could be: “How do you feel when you do something nice for someone else?” “How do you think that person feels when you’re nice to them?” “How do you feel when someone else is nice to you?” “How do you feel when someone is unkind to you?”
- Emphasize that kindness makes a difference. Help your child truly understand that schools, neighborhoods, communities, and yes, even the world can be a better place to live if people are kind to others. Clip out newspaper and magazine articles about people who have made a difference. Donate to a worthy charity. Write to a soldier in the war. Start a drive to help someone in need.
- Praise your child. When you see your child being kind to someone else (including a pet!), let them know you’re proud of them.
Raising kids to be kind and caring is a privilege. After all, it’s probably one of the greatest gifts you can ever give a child! Get started today.
Suggested children’s books:
Kids’ Random Acts of Kindness by Conari Press
Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler By Margery Cuyler
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deeds by Emily Pearson
The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
Miss Tizzy by Libba Moore Gray
Heartprints by P.K. Hallinan
Suggested reading for parents:
Raising Good Children by Thomas Lickona