Written by: Andrea Gibbs
It’s crazy how often we hear stories about children who bully each other at school or on the playground. The negative consequences of this behavior have been well-documented, but it can be challenging to help a child develop empathy and kindness. Luckily, there are quite a few ways to teach your child the importance of being kind without over-parenting or preaching.
Why is Kindness Essential?
1. Kindness makes you likable. This is the best reason to be kind! People who are friendly and caring are more likely to be liked by their peers and have more friends.
2. Kindness makes you better at life. You’ll have older and more successful friends–it’s like a leadership trait!
3. Kindness makes you happier. This is true for kids, but even adults who are kind report being more comfortable than people who aren’t.
4. Kindness helps you get along with others. Being kind to others, even when they aren’t kind to you, can help you avoid damaging relationships and have more positive ones.
5. Kindness makes the world a better place. Well, this one is obvious and genuine!
Why is it Better to Teach Your Children Kindness at an Early Age?
1. Children are very impressionable–they’re like little sponges that soak up all the information from their environment! The sooner you teach your child about kindness, the more likely he or she is to use these skills.
2. Children learn it best by watching people–this is why it’s crucial to teach kids kind behaviors positively and lovingly.
3. Studies show that kids who are taught kindness and empathy as young children tend to be more likely to be empathetic in adulthood.
4. Even if your child isn’t bullied, they might still have a friend poorly treated by another child. Being kind can prepare them for this situation, so they don’t get upset or annoyed and start bullying their friend when they act nice to them!
5. Kids who have been taught kindness from an early age are also more likely to help others in need later on in life.
Practical Tips in Cultivating Kindness to Your Children
1. Start when they’re young–don’t wait until they’re in first grade to start addressing the issue of bullying. You can also talk to them about being kind as a “daily reward” when they do something nice or volunteer at a shelter. The younger you start, the more likely your child will be open to it.
2. Reward kindness–make it fun by rewarding your children with some small, positive action every day. Make it a little game and talk to them about being kind as you’re doing something nice. For example, you could give them a sticker or a small prize every time they’re kind to others.
3. Let your children know that everyone is equal–teach your children that no matter what someone looks like or how they act, everyone deserves kindness and respect. It gives them a more open mind about things when they see other children who may be different but still deserve compassion and respect.
4. Let your kids know that they can always come to you if someone is mistreating them–let them know you’re there to help at any time! Make sure they understand that you will always help them, no matter what.
5. Teach your children how to talk to others–maybe if a friend is mean to another child, you can teach your kids how to talk about it with the friend without getting upset. It will give your child some valuable skills in difficult situations where he or she may need to mediate!
6. Let your kids help you with tasks–let them help you clean up the house or mow the lawn and do things around the house that they can do themselves. It is a great way to teach children to be helpful by taking care of things themselves.
7. Get your kids involved in the community–have a place where every time they do something nice, an animal is helped, or some kids are treated well at recess, they’ll get rewarded with a piece of candy. Let them know that everyone gets rewarded in some way–they’ll feel a part of the action and will be more invested when you tell them about all of the good things you’ve done.
8. Let your kids learn that nice is nice–don’t let them think it’s okay to bully others, but also teach them to be kind to people who manage to be “nicer” than they would like to be.
9. Teach your children to be nice because it’s the right thing to do–don’t make them think it should only be done in certain situations. This way, they’ll learn to show kindness and empathy towards others no matter what.
10. Let your children know that it’s okay if they’re a bit mean sometimes–this isn’t always something anyone can control! It can also teach them that everyone is human and is bound to make mistakes, even when they’re kind.
11. Teach your kids to be aware of their surroundings at all times–this will give them a chance to watch out for the people around them. It will also teach them to have a positive mental attitude, so they’re less likely to be involved in negative gossip.
12. Choose your friends wisely–especially if you have young children; consider letting your kids meet new friends from daycare or school early on before attending school with their peers. This way, they’ll know who they can trust and be kind to people daily. This way, you can be sure that your child will have a good friend group.
13. Don’t get frustrated–sometimes it can be easy to give up and tell your kids to “just stop being mean,” but this isn’t the best way to handle things. Instead, try to find out why they’re mean and teach them how they can be kind instead of getting frustrated and yelling at them.
Teaching your children how to be nice is essential, especially when they’re young. They’ll learn by doing, so practice kindness often and watch how your children respond!
Should you have other tips on cultivating kindness in our children, please leave them in the comment section below.
About the Author
I’m Andrea Gibbs. Born, raised, and still living in New York. I’m a work-at-home mom with a background in business development, strategy, and social media marketing.
I’m a blog contributor at Baby Steps Preschool to motivate and educate other parents about how they can get their children ahead of the game in school.