Teaching kids how to be kind is on the forefront of parents’ minds. We all want our kids to display empathy and treat others with compassion, and we are often left wondering how to go about instilling these traits in our children.
Kindness in kids goes beyond gentle interactions with peers and includes acting in a way that considers the thoughts and feelings of others in the broader community. Here are 5 simple ways that we can provide opportunities to practice kindness with our kids.
Demonstrating kindness as a parent goes beyond treating other adults with thoughtfulness and love, it includes reacting to our own children with kindness and care. Thinking about the choices of words that we use, and accounting for their thoughts and feelings in our actions will model this.
2. Provide Opportunities to Care for Others
This can be through volunteer work such as donating food and clothes to those less fortunate, or by making a card for a loved one. Create opportunities for your kids to engage in acts of kindness no matter how ‘large’ or ‘small’.
3. Teach Empathy
Ask questions like “how do you think he/she feels?” or make statements like “I wonder what he/she is thinking” when at a play date or even when reading a book. Helping our kids to understand social cues and read facial expressions are great ways to teach them to think about how others might be feeling, a large component of showing empathy.
4. Discuss Gratitude
Make a gratitude jar or a gratitude tree where kids can discuss what they are thankful for, or while sitting at the dinner table, ask each person to say one thing that they are thankful for that day.
5. Care for the Earth
Teaching kindness goes beyond caring for others, it also includes caring for the Earth and all its creatures. Pick up trash on the walk around the block or develop a good recycling system that kids can help out with at home. There are small opportunities like this in every day that have a large impact, and help demonstrate kindness toward the Earth.
Teaching this to kids involves thinking of kindness as a way of life and as a state of mind. By modeling thoughtfulness, thankfulness and empathy, and in providing opportunities to care for others and the Earth, we can make a large impact in encouraging kids to be kind.
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