Not only can being kind make the world a better place, studies show that kindness can improve self esteem and result in children being happier. Kindness is learned and like anything we learn it needs to be nurtured. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
Below are some tips that can help you and your child foster kindness into your day to day life:
- Model kindness- Children are sponges, they soak everything up. Show your child what being kind looks like by being kind yourself. Be mindful of how you communicate with your spouse and other members of your family, particularly when resolving conflict. Setting a good example is vital.
- “How did you help someone today?”- While catching up about their day at school, it's common for parents to ask questions like “what did you learn today?” or “how did the test go?”. Instead, try to ask questions like “how did you help someone today?”. This shows that you put value on being caring and kind and are not always focused on grades. It may also highlight small acts they don’t even realise they are doing. This leads us to the next point:
- Reinforcing - Instead of forcing children to share and be kind, praise them for anything they do that is an act of kindness or caring behaviour, no matter how small. This will send the message that every kind act matters.
- Use their interests - you can encourage your child to be kind by honing in on what they are passionate about. For example, if they love animals, encourage them to volunteer at an animal shelter or offer to walk a neighbour's dog. You could also volunteer as a family. If they are strong in a particular subject in school, perhaps suggest they become a mentor in school.
- Talk - Discuss current affairs with your child, particularly teens. Encourage “mindful talk,” for example, “What would that feel like?” This gives them perspective and allows them to consider what it would be like in another person's shoes.
- Set challenges - A more practical tip is to give them a challenge, such as one act of kindness per week, and do the challenge with them! You can share your experiences.
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