8 Little Ways to Teach Kindness
It goes without saying that we all want to raise thoughtful young children that can grow into kind-hearted adults. The best way to teach our children the importance of kindness is to be their role models and let them bear witness, or participate in, the small kind things we do for ourselves and others every day. Here are a few ideas of little ways that you can teach your children kindness every day!
1. Help Make Your Community Beautiful
Children are greatly affected by their environments, but it’s important to teach them that as they grow older, they don’t have to let their environments control them— they can positively impact their environments, too! By showing your children from a young age that they can make a difference in the quality of their community by keeping it clean, making it more beautiful, and contributing to making it a happier place for people in your community that are in need, they will learn that making a difference feels great! Also, by volunteering to help plant flowers in your city with them, doing a beach clean up with your family, or helping an elderly neighbor with their gardening, you are being a role model to your children and a great example of how easy it is making your community a better place!
2. Have them Set Aside Chore Money for Charity
Before even introducing the idea of earning money for doing chores, it may be a good idea for you or you and your partner to decide whether you want to teach your children the importance of donating money to people that are less fortunate than you. A simple way to do this, for example, would be to tell your children that for every dollar they earn doing their daily chores, one dime will be set aside to be donated to the charity of their choice. This way, it will be natural for them to think of others in need, learn about different charities and causes they may feel passionately about, and for you to teach them gratitude for what they have. This can also be a good lesson in gratitude for having the opportunity to make money at a young age when some families are not able to (or rightfully choose not to) pay their children for doing their chores, as well as teaching them the value of a dollar!
3. Draw Attention to Others’ Facial Expressions and Feelings
Reading books together, watching television shows or movies, experiencing conflicts with siblings, or playing imaginative storyline games are all great opportunities to draw attention to how characters or other people may be feeling from their facial expressions and body language. As parents, one of our main jobs is to teach our children to have empathy for others. When a character in a book goes through a conflict, you can point to their facial expression in that moment and ask your child how they think the character may be feeling. When they are bothering a younger sibling that may not be able to verbally defend themselves, but are squirming to move away, you can draw attention to their body language and ask how they think their sibling is feeling, and what they should do to make them more comfortable. There are many small opportunities every day to draw your child’s attention to how others are feeling without them verbally expressing their emotions. Creating an open and consistent dialogue of recognizing others’ feelings every day will help condition your child to be a highly empathetic and kind person!
4. Do One Act of Kindness for Others with Them Each Day
Go out of your way to teach your children that doing one small kind thing for someone else, or even something nice for themselves, can make a huge impact! Lead by example by sharing something nice you did for a neighbor, a friend, stranger, or co-worker each night at the dinner table. Better yet, include them in on your good deed of the day, ask them for ideas, and do them together! It can be something as small as bringing your close elderly neighbor’s garbage bin up from the street, reminding them why it’s important to pick their clothes up off the floor of the room they share with a sibling and helping them do it, or giving a younger sibling a big hug when they’re sad. Random acts of kindness are meant to be simple deeds that make someone’s day brighter, and there are many opportunities for them every day. Teach your little one to look out for these frequent opportunities to help someone out and watch them slowly grow into selfless, kind people!
5. Explain the Importance of Manners
Manners aren’t only to show respect for others, but it also shows others that you have self-respect. Manners go beyond chewing with your mouth closed, sitting in your chair at the dinner table, or saying “please” and “thank you.” Having good manners can be letting a pregnant woman or elderly person take your seat in any scenario where there aren’t many available, opening and holding the door for other mothers with strollers, not interrupting people while they are speaking and looking them in the eye when you do, how to correctly shake someone’s hand for a solid first impression, and even holding good posture which doesn’t only show someone that you’re listening to them, but it’s great for your health, too! Having good manners not only allows you to move more easily through life, but it shows people that you respect them and are thinking of them, too. Showing them your good manners every day, whether it be letting someone with far less groceries, cut in line ahead of you or asking a friend if they’d like a beverage when they stop by, are easy ways to show your kids how to be kind to others through good manners.
6. Practice Mindful Meditation for Gratitude
Meditation is a practice that’s been around for thousands of years and likely will never expire. The health benefits of meditation and mindfulness in both mind and body are plentiful in adults, and they can be for your children, too! Taking the time to do even five minutes of stretching, yoga, breathing exercises, or even discussing the concept of mindfulness with your child every day can help them learn how to listen to their bodies, get in touch with their emotions, and feel at peace and full of gratitude for all that they have and what they can do. Practicing mindfulness will equip your children with healthy thought patterns that are kinder to themselves and encourage gratitude for their own minds and bodies.
7. Verbalize Nice Thoughts Every Chance You Get
This little thing may actually be a very big thing for some. It can be difficult for a lot of people to have positive self-talk in their minds, or to tell ourselves the things we love about ourselves on a daily basis. When was the last time you were proud of yourself? When was the last time you went on a walk just to enjoy your own company and get your body moving? It’s likely that you tell your children you love them and are proud of them often, but when was the last time you took a moment to appreciate you?
Teach your children to have nice self-talk and to celebrate themselves when they have a victory or are proud of their actions, too. You can do this by verbalizing some nice thought you have about them or others, or discuss at the dinner table something nice you did or an accomplishment you had throughout the day, and how that made you feel. Teaching our children positive self-talk is so important because when we teach them to love and be kind to themselves, they can more easily acknowledge others’ successes and be kind to and love others, too!
8. Teach Teamwork in Your Home
Learning how to be kind starts in your home. From the moment you wake up as a parent, your opportunities to show selflessness and consideration for others is limitless. One great advantage of living as a family unit is the ability to help one another in order to connect and get things done more efficiently! Teach your children the importance of working together to do their chores or to look for ways to help their siblings get their work done so that they have more time to play together. Teaching your children from an early age to work well with other people and to seek out ways to help others will help prepare them to be wonderful contributors to their communities and society!
There are opportunities to help others every day in endless ways! Teach your children how to realize these opportunities and watch them grow into wonderful, selfless young people who can make a big impact in the world!
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