Teaching our children about kindness is one of the most important life lessons we can instill. Kindness not only fosters healthy relationships, but it also contributes to raising more compassionate human beings. As parents, it’s our responsibility to help nurture this virtue in our kids. I live by the golden rule and hope my kids will, too! My namesake Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Here are six tips on how to teach your children to be kind.
Lead By Example & Be a Role Model
As we know, children learn by watching their parents. Kids are always watching us. To teach kindness, you must show kindness in your own actions, words, and interactions. Demonstrate how to treat others with empathy, respect, and generosity. When they see us being kind, they are more likely to also be kind.
Also, ask them daily about one thing they did at school that was kind. The first day you ask them, they may be caught off guard, but the next day they likely will have something to share about what they did. Use this opportunity to share with them one thing you did that was kind. If you can, let them witness you doing one thing kind and talk about it.
Empathy is the foundation of kindness. Teach your children to understand and share the feelings of others. Discuss how someone might be feeling and why. Encourage them to put themselves in others’ shoes and ask, “How would I feel if this happened to me?” We never know what people are going through, but the one thing we can do is be kind to them. You never know if that simple gesture will mean the world to another person. Help them understand different perspectives and feelings.
Praise Kind Acts
Acknowledge and praise your child’s acts of kindness. Whether it’s sharing toys, helping a friend in need, or being polite, positive reinforcement reinforces their kindness. Celebrate their good deeds to motivate more of them. Encourage small acts of kindness in their daily lives. Praise and reward acts of kindness to reinforce the behavior.
Engaging in volunteer activities as a family can be an eye-opening experience. It teaches children the value of giving back and the impact of their actions on others. Whether it’s helping at a local shelter or participating in community clean-ups, these experiences can be transformative. Engage in volunteer activities to experience the joy of helping others.
Set Clear Expectations
Establish rules and expectations for behavior. Make sure your child understands what kindness means and what behaviors are considered unkind. Be consistent with consequences for unkind actions and encourage them to make amends when necessary. Discuss the consequences of bullying and the importance of standing up against it.
Read Books and Watch Movies on Kindness
Children’s literature and movies often carry powerful messages about kindness. Choose books and movies that showcase acts of compassion and empathy. Discuss these stories with your child to help them grasp the importance of kindness. Below is a list of shows and books that are great resources to teach children about the importance of these values. Share stories or videos that demonstrate kindness in action with your children and talk about them so they have a clear understanding.
These resources can inspire children to practice kindness in their own lives and appreciate its importance.
TV Shows About Kindness for Younger Kids
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. This animated series is based on characters from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and teaches kids about empathy and kindness.
Sesame Street. This classic show has been teaching children about kindness, sharing, and friendship for decades.
Doc McStuffins. This show encourages children to be compassionate and caring, as the main character, Doc, helps her stuffed animals and toys.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This series emphasizes the importance of friendship, understanding, and tolerance.
Books About Kindness for Younger Kids
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. A novel that tells the story of a boy with facial differences and the importance of kindness and acceptance. (Amazon)
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. A classic picture book that teaches the value of selfless giving and kindness. (Amazon)
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. This book explores the impact of even small acts of kindness and the consequences of missed opportunities to be kind. (Amazon)
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. A story about a boy and his grandmother who discover the beauty in their community through acts of kindness and generosity. (Amazon)
TV Shows about Kindness for Older Kids
The Kindness Diaries. This reality series follows a man who travels the world relying on the kindness of strangers.
Anne with an E. This series is based on the classic novel Anne of Green Gables and emphasizes themes of kindness, empathy, and acceptance.
A Series of Unfortunate Events. While it has dark humor, the Baudelaire siblings often display kindness and resilience in the face of adversity.
Books about Kindness for Older Kids
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This novel tells the story of a young boy with facial differences and explores themes of empathy, compassion, and kindness. (Amazon)
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. This book, inspired by a true story, is about a gorilla who learns the importance of kindness and friendship. (Amazon)
Pax by Sara Pennypacker. This story revolves around a boy and his pet fox, highlighting themes of kindness, loyalty, and the bond between humans and animals. (Amazon)
Teaching kindness to your children is a gift that keeps on giving. It equips them with essential life skills, promotes positive relationships, and contributes to helping grow more compassionate human beings. By leading by example, encouraging empathy, and practicing kindness together, you can instill this valuable virtue in your children and set them on a path toward being genuinely kind individuals. Help your children practice gratitude by cultivating a sense of gratitude for what they have. Promote self-kindness by teaching them that being kind to oneself is equally important. Remember, teaching kindness is an ongoing process, and it’s important to be patient and consistent.
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