Every parent wants to raise a kind child, but kindness must be taught, just like other traits. And one of the hardest things about teaching kindness is, that we must teach it through example. I know my son is always watching and learning from me, which makes it even more embarrassing when I react poorly to traffic, his tantrums or other people around us. Take time to discuss kindness with your child. Teaching kindness is done through recognizing when others are kind to your child, modeling kindness and showing children how to be kind.
From a young age, children can do simple acts of kindness that will help them grow up to be caring people. Here are some ideas to guide your child in acts of kindness.
Do chores when no one is looking A chore can be an act of kindness when your child does it out of love. Encourage them to do chores when no one is looking. Or take on a new chore to show someone in your family how much they care. This could be doing a chore that normally you complete yourself. Or, it could be doing a chore for a sibling or other family member. Teach your child that offering to set the table when you are at someone else’s home or picking up toys at the neighbor’s house can be an act of kindness and service. The main goal is to show your child that they don’t need to seek kudos or attention for the acts that they do. An act of kindness is done without any expectation of getting something back.
Leave behind a surprise for someone else When you make a purchase at a vending machine, encourage your child to leave behind their change to delight the next person. Or, you can even leave enough money for an entire treat for the next person who visits. This type of completely anonymous kindness can further demonstrate to your child that kindness seeks no praise or attention. Instead, kindness is given out freely. Another random act of kindness would be to put a motivational note inside a library book before returning it. That note could delight the next person who reads the book or the librarian as they restore the book to the shelf. When your child outgrows their clothes, take them with you when you donate old clothes. Explain to them why you donate the clothes how it will benefit another child in need. Although your son or daughter will never meet the person who benefits from the donation, you'll display how kindness can change a life.
Care for your community Within your community, there are many opportunities to show kindness. You can feed the birds, especially in wintertime when food may not be plentiful for them. When you see a cart that's loose in a parking lot, encourage your child to return it inside the store or place it in a cart corral. This protects other cars in the parking lot and makes it simpler for the staff to do their job. A simple way to care for your community is to turn off the water while brushing your teeth. You can explain to your child why this matters and the effects it has on the environment and your community. Caring for your community is important to grow young and involved citizens. When your child does an act of kindness that benefits the community, they learn an important lesson. Another way to care for your community is to pick up litter. When you go for a walk, take a trash bag with you and clean up the neighborhood, especially after trash day when pieces of trash might have blown out of your neighbor’s dumpsters.
Comfort others School is a great opportunity to teach children how to be kind. When a new child joins the school, it can be a time of anxiety and great concern for that new student. Teach your child how to welcome the new student. And when someone is on the playground who doesn’t have anyone else to play with, encourage your child to go over and say hi. Inviting a child to come and play on the playground is a simple act of kindness that makes a big deal for the recipient. Give your child a treat that they can share with the bus driver to make their day. Bus drivers have a stressful job of ensuring children stay safe while on their way to and from school. A small act of kindness can remind them of the important work that they do.
Take care of the elderly Offer to weed an elderly neighbor’s garden or do a weekly visit to keep them company. Or, you could offer to walk your elderly neighbor’s dog. The elderly often have few activities and people who stop by to visit. Teach your child the importance of caring for these individuals in need. You can start with your own family. Call up your child’s grandparents and ask them to talk about their childhood. Set up regular times each week when you call your child’s grandparents to keep them company.
Give back to local service members During the holidays, send packages to deployed military. Many organizations collect items for care packages for the military, which is an easy way to show this kindness. Or, you could bake cookies and take them to your local fire station to share with firefighters on duty. Give your child cash to pay for coffee for a policeman or policewoman the next time you are out and about with the opportunity to do so. There are many more ways you can teach your child to be kind. And don’t forget that it starts with you modeling kindness for your child. Use good words and react pleasantly even when you’re faced with difficulty and hardships.
In teaching your child to be kind, you might also find that you enjoy life more and feel happier because of the kindness you’re giving out as well. It’s a win-win for both you and your child, as well as the other lives that you touch.