If you ask me, it’s better to teach kindness to your kids above anything else. It’s a trait I highly value and want to instill in my children. Empathy, generosity, appreciation and respect all spring from kindness.
According to Parents.com, kids are actually hardwired to be considerate and kind. “The desire to help is innate,” says David Schonfeld, MD, director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. And their sense of doing good develops as they grow. “At first, children like to help others because it helps them get what they want. Next, they do so because they get praise. Finally, they begin to anticipate the needs of others, and it becomes intrinsically rewarding to do nice things for people in their lives.”
Here are 5 simple suggestions to help teach your kids kindness:
- Volunteer as a family. I would love to volunteer more and give back to the community and the less fortunate. Dr Pops, for example, is a proud supporter of Vitamin Angels – a charity that provides vitamins to children in need. I think this is so great. Volunteering as a family teaches your kids about philanthropy & empathy from an early age. Kids of all ages can go with you to help at the soup kitchen or local animal shelter, and it will teach the importance of doing what you can to help others.
- Appreciate the little things. Whether you are just taking a stroll around the block or picking up the kids from school, stop and appreciate the little things along your way; really stop to stop to smell the flowers or observe a bird high up in a tree. If you take the time to point these things out, your kids will start to pick up on it, and start to do the same too.
- Say Thank You. Practice politeness and respect with your children and in front of your children. Kids are like sponges and take in everything around them. So if you are respectful in the home, they are more likely to be as well. If they give you something, say ‘thank you,’ if they sneeze, say ‘bless you,’ no matter how young they are.
- Point out kindness. Part of how your children learn is by you pointing out and highlighting examples of kindness. So if you see your child doing something nice, make a point to acknowledge to them how kind it was that they shared their snack, or helped the little boy on the playground. You can also reward them for doing a good deed; checking on his brother to make sure he is OK after he pushed him, that sort of thing. (OK maybe not that per say, but you get the point.) We have to recognize the day to day good things our children do, and make a big deal about them sometimes to instill that kindness. The more you praise them for this type of behavior, the more likely they will incorporate this behavior into their own routine.
- Get a gift for someone. Next time you go to a birthday party or housewarming party, take your son or daughter with you to the store to pick out the present. Make it clear that you are going to get a gift for the birthday girl or boy, not for them. When you go to the party, make sure they carry in the gift and give it to the guest of honor. The smile on their friend’s face should help encourage your little one with the gift of giving.
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