It is the joy of every parent to see their children growing up with kindness and a heart of giving. Sometimes, we get too carried away with making sure that they are happy in their lives, and doing well in school that we forget to nurture them to grow in kindness which supercede all values we teach our children. At times, this isn’t as easy as it may seem and we find ourselves surprised and perplexed when our child doesn’t act in a considerate and kind way. You might get a call from school about your kids bullying, you might catch them using harsh words on their siblings or acting out. Research shows that the reason majority of kids act out is because their basic emotional needs-love, attention and kindness-are not being met at home. That is why it’s important to instill kindness in children.
My most memorable act of kindness from my childhood, that stuck with me till date is the day my mother chose to show kindness despite her pains. It was a week before Christmas and everyone was in their cheerful holiday spirit. We were to take a visit to the orphanage, which was our yearly Christmas tradition, and distribute food, clothes and toys to the children there. My mum had already packed the items, and we were waiting for my grandparents and dad to come from the workshop, when she got a call from the hospital that my grandparents and dad has been involved in a car accident and none of them had survived. My mum was so devastated. I had never seen my mum looked so miserable. I have never seen anyone looked so miserable. Hours passed and my mum stood up, wiped her face, forced a smile and said, “the kids are waiting, we still have gifts to deliver” and we drove to the orphanage, and I watched her speak to the orphans with kindness and so much grace. And right there, I knew to always choose kindness no matter the situation I face. Time passed, and I try to teach my kids the same. Here is 5 ways I do it and you can also do it, to raise your kids to be kind:
Leading by example:
Research shows that kids are more likely to copy what they see than do what they are told. Practice what you teach them, and they are more likely to actually remember your actions than what you say. When you have a chance to practice a random act of kindness, do so! Show compassion to your families, friends and strangers. If a friend is feeling overwhelmed, ask her what you can do to help her family and offer a helping hand, then have your kids make a nice card for her.Practice forgiveness, give complements, say, “thank you” when you are given something, and, “I am sorry” when you make someone upset. Don’t trash talk, if children hear us saying something negative about our neighbors, they learn that it is okay to talk that way.
Read books and watch TV shows that tells stories about kindness:
Reading books and watching TV shows together can be a natural way to help kids understand that there are people all over the world that want the same things as them-to be loved,to feel safe, to have fun and to be with their families.
Talk about books and TV characters. Ask questions about character motives and feelings, like, “Don’t you just love how nice the princess in the movie was?”
Children are highly influenced by the types of movies they watch and the books they read, so make sure to pick out the ones that will have a positive impact on them.
Encourage the involvement of kids in helping the community:
It is never too early to include your kids in helping the community, this will help them see kindness as a way of life. Get your kids to set aside a some money from their allowance to give to charity or to buy warm clothes for needy children. When a friend get sick, ask your kids what they would like to do to help out. Kids have an inbuilt desire to help. It is our duty as parents to nurture these desires into habits, as they grow. Take your kids to deliver gifts to a local family shelter during the holidays. This will give them closure of how good it feels to do something nice for others. Look for opportunities for your family to help solve a problem in your own neighborhood. Inspire your kids to find ways to make their world a better place through kind gestures.
Teaching your kids empathy will help develop kindness into their character. Let them know that there is another person at the other end of the relationship who has feelings. When your kids acts harshly to another kid, ask questions like, “how do you think he/she feels?” This will teach them to think about how others might be feeling. Teach your kids to notice what’s going on in the lives of people around them to Foster empathy. Is a friend moody? Ask your kids to ask them how they are feeling and offer them a hug.The more you teach kids empathy, the more they understand their emotions and others emotions and the more kindness become instilled in them.
Point out unkind acts and applaud good deeds:
Don’t be reluctant to tell your child when he/she acts in an unkind way, say in a calm but no nonsense tone, “stop, that’s not very nice.” Don’t let teasing or bullying go unaddressed. Ask them what positive steps they will take in an unkind situation and offer suggestions about what to do differently next time. Never criticize them when correcting them, talk to them compassionately.
Also, when your kids do something nice, don’t hesitate to praise them. Applauding your kids good deed increases their motivation. Tell them, “I am so happy you chose to share your toys with your friends” or when they do something nice, say, “That’s a very nice thing to do, you are very thoughtful” This will make them choose kindness next time.