Compassion. Empathy. Kindness. They’re all qualities we hope to instill in our kids. And for the most part, they’re qualities that come naturally. Naturally… but not always without prompting. Because, like it or not, cruelty and selfishness can also be part of human nature. It’s something we as adults have learned to temper. But it’s not always the same with kids. Children are impulsive. It’s not that they’re necessarily intentionally being mean or self-centered. It’s that they haven’t learned to tap into an inner sense of kindness yet.
Nor are we as adults entirely immune to bouts of stubbornness and just plain bad moods. After all, think of the last argument you fell into with your spouse. Or a co-worker. Or a neighbor. Were words thrown which you later regretted? Unnecessarily mean words? Certainly, we frequently learn to forgive and forget. But with children, it’s not so simple. Words wound. Actions linger. And the emotional wounds can sometimes scar deeper than we think.
No one expects the average parent to be Mother Teresa. You already have enough on your plate. In fact, probably more than enough. But kindness is contagious. It not only transforms the people around you, it transforms you as well. And you can start with the ones you love the most. Here are five of the best ways to teach kindness to your kids.
Look For Kindness In Stories, Books And Films
Children naturally soak up the world around them. Unfortunately, it’s far too often full of negative emotions. Jealousy. Violence. Greed. All of which can have a lasting impression on kids, particularly, younger ones.
But you can counteract this. Look for stories to share with your kids which teach them kindness and empathy—no matter how old fashioned or hokey they might seem. Children are natural imitators when it comes to acting out the stories they hear, and fiction is a great way to suggest without teaching directly.
Kindness Starts At Random
One of the great things about random acts of kindness is that they’re anonymous. Perhaps you’ve heard of the “Pay it Forward” trend? What stranger doesn’t like their gasoline or coffee bought for them? As we said, kindness is absolutely contagious. And by displaying random acts of kindness, you’re not only teaching your kids a valuable lesson about helping strangers, but you’re also helping to make the world a better place in the process.
Smile Often, Compliment Even More Often
There’s something infectious about the act of smiling. It just makes you feel good all over. Even the goofiest smile can change a kid’s entire day. Smile sweetly. Smile goofily. Smile randomly. Smile sincerely. Just learn to smile.
But there’s something even more infectious about receiving a compliment. Especially when they’re at random. It can be as simple as complimenting your child on the clothes they picked out or on getting all their chores done. Compliment them on the way they make you feel (every child wants to make their parents proud). But compliment them frequently. Compliment them at random. Compliment them at any given hour of the day, over something innocuous or something profound. Just compliment them.
Learn To Crack Jokes
Humor is a great diffuser of any tense situation. It also brings people together in uniquely profound ways. It’s a bonding tool, and one of the strongest you can have with your child. Jokes tend to get passed on, no matter how silly. In fact, the sillier the better. Humor disarms people. It simply makes them feel warm. So learn to lighten up! Share a joke with your child. Chances are, they’ll learn to share it with their friends—or even complete strangers. And simply by sharing the goofiest, most ridiculous joke you can think of, you’ll have made this world just a little bit brighter.
One of the best ways to bond with your child while teaching them the importance of compassion is to volunteer your time together at a local charity or non-profit. Mercy is one of the most important qualities we can possess as humans, and there’s a certain sense of fulfillment which comes about as a result of taking care of one another and our environment. From spearheading a monthly park clean-up campaign to donating your time at a local food pantry, the ways in which you can affect the world around you are numerous, immediate and rewarding. When you teach your child the value of charity at an early age, you’re stressing the importance of providing help and comfort. And that value is bound to be one which will stay with them for a long, long time.
At Elite Preschool & Learning Center, we teach children the value of kindness, compassion, and mercy early on, in a nurturing, faith-based environment that’s both caring and fun. We offer programs and care for Phoenix area children ranging from infants to pre-kindergarten, as well as before and after school daycare. For more information or to schedule a tour, visit us at https://www.elitepreschool.org/ or call (623) 907-9938.