Teaching children kindness is one of the most important things we can pass on to the next generations. Promoting kindness starts by being good role models in how we show kindness to each other, ourselves, and how we interact with our environment.
Kindness is thought to be a natural human response. The UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development believes kindness is both complex and straightforward. At its most basic, we show consideration for others in the hope they’ll do the same for us.
Being kind can improve other people’s lives. In turn, it can increase the well-being of those who practice being kind. Promoting kindness in children will give them a skill that will bring them happiness and empower them to make the world a kinder place.
Our seven helpful tips on teaching children kindness cover:
- Being kind to others in the presence of your child.
- Observing your child’s behaviour and encouraging them to learn about their feelings.
- Promoting kindness in children through open conversations.
- Simple everyday actions that will bring joy to the lives of others.
7 Thoughtful ways to teach children to be kind
Kindness is not to be confused with how well you are liked, but rather how you perceive your behaviour toward others. It’s about your ability to empathise, be compassionate and express genuine feelings.
Demonstrate kindness through everyday actions.
Young children learn by imitating behaviours. By demonstrating kindness through your own actions, your children will copy and learn from you. Showing acts of kindness expands your child’s awareness beyond their family. They include:
- Holding open a door for someone else.
- Checking in on a neighbour’s well-being.
- Donating goods towards a charity.
- Calling a family friend to see how they’ve been going.
Teaching children kindness begins with teaching them about their emotions.
Encourage children to build relationships with others and regulate their emotions through their own self-control and mindfulness. Children love to express their feelings through movement, music and dance. Mirror-play also teachers children about self-awareness, empathy and emotions.
Teach children to name and talk about their emotions.
Very young children may not yet have the ability to describe the way they’re feeling. You can help them find the words to express their feelings by naming the way they feel. They may be able to empathise and recognise those same feelings in others.
It’s essential to be able to talk about your feelings. When your child is angry or sad, ask them why. Try to get them to open up about their feelings. Let them know you’re listening and share how you’re feeling too.
Helping children make sense of their feelings and recognise those same feelings in others can help them to build positive relationships and friendships with other children. It also provides them with the tools to feel confident when expressing themselves in groups.
Promote kindness in children by helping them read cues in others.
Have an open dialogue with your child about the way other people feel or seem to feel. People don’t always react or show feelings in the same way. Our tone of voice and the way we reveal our expressions and body language may have subtle differences.
Empathy is about learning how to read those differences. When you watch a television show or read a book together, you can discuss what feelings a character might be expressing and how this makes your child feel.
Mindfullness can help your child be aware of their surroundings including other people without judging.
Be empathetic towards your child’s feelings.
Be aware of your own responses towards your child’s emotions. It’s not about feeling sorry but a genuine way to connect with your child and understand what they are going through. Don’t ignore their feelings but take an interest and validate how they feel. Watch for verbal cues but also ask how they are feeling.
Show compassion and interest in others.
Be aware and show compassion for those around you. Let your child see that you are emotionally available and that you want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. One way to show compassion is to volunteer with a local community group to do charity work. Involving the whole family also broadens your child’s sense of self-identity and belonging.
Teach empathy to children by encouraging emotional sharing.
Children should feel safe to show their feelings even when it is a negative emotion. Teaching children kindness means creating a safe and secure environment for your child by being open and receptive to their feelings.
When your child demonstrates empathetic behaviour towards someone else, praise them for their compassion. Take notice of genuine acts of kindness. To promote repetition of their empathy and kindness provide positive feedback.
You can encourage your child to think about others by asking them questions like:
- Do you think our neighbour would like this extra bread?
- Do you think your brother would like to play with your toys too?
- Your sister has an owie. Should we get her a band-aid?
- Daddy’s not feeling well. Do you think we should make him chicken soup?
Teaching children kindness is a kindness in itself. Help them learn about their feelings, get them to talk about how they feel and acknowledge your child when they are being respectful and kind towards others.
Teaching children kindness at Petit Early Learning Journey
At Petit Early Learning Journey we care about your child’s feelings and emotional development. We provide a holistic approach to learning that connects families and their children to our centres and local community.
We believe that children’s voices should be heard and respected. It’s important to us that we listen to their concerns and invite them to share their ideas.
Enrol your child into a holistic early learning journey that guides your child’s development and keeps you connected every step of the way.