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Imagine you’ve had a tough day at work, probably a client you’ve stalked and hunted down for months, bailed out on you last minute. Or you’ve had “one of those days” with the kids, and you feel emotionally exhausted and physically drained.
Then as you head home to catch the bus or stand in line at the grocery store, you bump into a random person who smiles at you. And I’m not talking about a fake smile, but a genuine smile that makes you see their entire front row of teeth?
How would you feel?
I bet their kind gesture and beautiful smile would make your day slightly better?
And most probably, after that encounter, you would go ahead and smile at the bus driver or the cashier at the store.
That’s what kindness does to people. It creates a ripple effect that can change your mood from sad to happy, even if it’s just for a short period.
But being a kind adult comes from our upbringing and the values we learn from our parents. I find it heartwarming when I meet a thoughtful, compassionate person, and I’d love my child to grow up and be gentle and empathetic to everyone she meets.
And so, if you’ve been wondering, “How do I raise a kind, compassionate child?” or, “How do I teach my child kindness?” I’m so glad you’ve stumbled on this blog.
Together, we’ll walk through different ways you can raise your child to be kind. All the tips in the post are simple, easy-to-follow guidelines that will make the teaching experience fun for you and your kids.
Okay, let’s get started.
Here are 13 ways to raise a kind and empathetic child.
Tip 1: Be a role model
Does your child imitate almost everything you do? From how you apply lotion on your legs, blow your nose to your walking style?
If so, which I’m positive is a big yes, then it’s clear that the best way to teach your child about kindness is to be kind.
You need to model kindness in your home for your child to learn. This might mean simple acts of kindness like being polite to everyone around you and not just your family.
So, before you snap at the gardener for ruining your favorite roses, think about your kids watching through the window. If they constantly see you being cross and rude to everyone, they’ll think that’s appropriate behavior and act the same.
Tip 2: Apologize when you make a mistake
We all mess up. And no matter how hard you try to be respectful and compassionate, there are days you’ll be rude or harsh to your kids or even your spouse.
Whenever you make hurtful remarks, yell, or behave unkindly to anyone, make sure you apologize. By apologizing and correcting your behavior, you show your kids the proper way to act when they make a mistake or wrong someone.
Tip 3: Notice and value kindness
Let’s assume you’re at work, and the boss points out your excellent presentation skills in front of everyone in the office?
How would you react?
A: Feel embarrassed and shy away from ever making a presentation at work.
B: Be proud of yourself and use any opportunity to make a presentation at work.
What’s your answer? B, right. I figured as much.
Everyone loves when their skills or good traits are not only noticed but appreciated. And the same analogy applies to kids. By pointing out your child’s simple acts of kindness, you’re encouraging them to continue being empathetic and compassionate with everyone else.
So, when your child comforts their crying sibling or a kid at the park, please make an effort to appreciate their kindness. You can say something like, “That’s a beautiful thing you did for your brother. I’m proud of you.”
Or, “I saw how you gave that kid a piece of your snack bar. That’s such a lovely gesture, buddy!”
Tip 4: Teach your kids that kindness is a strength
Sadly, we live in a world that glorifies the phrase, “Nice guys finish last.” And as much as that applies to the dating scene and how “bad boys” always get the babes, it reflects how some people think being friendly and pleasant is a form of weakness.
But in reality, being kind and respectful is a tremendous personal attribute that we should all strive to have. So, raising empathetic, kind humans’ starts by teaching your kids that kindness is a superpower. Let your child know that being gentle, pleasant, and respectful to other people doesn’t make them weak. In fact, it makes their character and personality shine more.
Think of kindness as your favorite toppings on a pizza. Without the pepperoni, peppers, mushroom, bacon, and extra cheese, you’d be eating just another type of bread. Therefore, by painting kindness in the brightest colors, you’re motivating your child to be gentler about other people’s feelings.
Tip 5: Be mindful of the type of shows your child watches
How often has your child mentioned a new word that you didn’t teach them but learned through a TV show?
I bet it’s happened several times. That shows you how great of an impact the shows your child watches affect their vocabulary and character in general.
If your child is constantly in front of the TV or iPad watching violent shows, then don’t be surprised when they think it’s appropriate to slap their sibling or punch a random kid at the park.
It’s wise to filter the type of material your child consumes and ensure they watch morally upright shows that depict kindness, empathy, inclusion, and compassion.
Tip 6: Teach your child how to be kind
To nurture kindness in your kids, you have to be practical about it. This means teaching your child about simple acts of service such as:
- Helping their small sibling tie their shoes or put their coat on
- Saying hi to the cashier at the store
- Help in folding the laundry or wipe the table after dinner
- Call their grandma to check up on her
- Greet the bus driver
- Pack a snack for the teacher
- Thank the wait staff when they bring out your order
- Say thank you to the mailman
- Help load/unload the dishwasher
Such simple acts of kindness are excellent for your child to practice their compassion for other people.
Tip 7: Acknowledge other people’s kindness
It’s not enough to point out your child’s kindness but also other people’s positive behaviour as well. By highlighting other people’s acts of service, you make it easy for your child to notice such positivity and thus, mimic such traits.
So, when someone opens the door for you because your hands are full (think shopping bags in hand and a toddler in tow), please note it. You can then say, “It was so kind of that man to open the door for me. I don’t know how I would have managed to do it myself.”
Or when a child helps your kid get on the swing in the park. You could say, “I’m glad your friend was kind enough to help you get on the swing. I see you’ve had so much fun!”
By pointing out other people’s kindness, you’re simply telling your child to imitate that character. Simple, right!
Tip 8: Point out other people’s negative feelings
When you’re out with your child, you’ll meet many people. And unfortunately, not everyone you run into or talk to will be friendly to you just because you have a child.
The cashier at the store might be rude and dismissive to you because maybe they’ve had a tough day, they’re exhausted, or that’s their default mood. Whatever the case might be for their negativity, it’s wise to address the issue with your child.
Don’t assume your child didn’t notice the cashier’s behavior. Because trust me, they did. It’s easy for our kids to spot facial expressions and body gestures.
So, the best thing is to speak to your child about the cashier’s conduct. I don’t mean speak ill about them, nope! But something like along the lines of, “Did you notice that the lady at the store wasn’t happy? It must be hard for her to work long hours without help.”
Or, “I don’t think the man at the bank was pleased today. I wonder what might have happened to make him upset”.
By pointing out other people’s feelings and emotions, you’re helping your child be empathetic, which is an integral part of kindness.
Tip 9: Encourage your child to apologize
Instead of yelling at your child when they hit their sibling, why not encourage them to apologize instead?
When you snap at your kid for doing something wrong, they might resort to saying sorry to make you “shut up,” but they don’t mean it. Instead, by helping your child understand why their behavior was inappropriate, they might be sincere with their apology.
So, let’s think of a scenario real quick. What do you do when your child grabs a friend’s toy and runs away with it?
A: Shout at him to return the toy and say sorry. Or else he doesn’t get TV time?
B: Help him see that his behavior made the other child sad, and it’s important that he apologizes.
If you picked A, it’s essential to know that that’s a punishment-based statement, and your child will “act right” to save their TV time.
But if you picked B, then you’re on the right track. By helping your child understand that their behavior made another kid unhappy, you’re slowly building their empathetic skills, which results in a genuine apology and kind behavior in the future.
Tip 10: Improve your child’s feelings vocabulary
It’s easy to help a friend out when you know exactly how they feel. Imagine trying to tell a joke to a grieving friend (facepalm!).
Once your child can describe and label feelings, they’ll be better equipped to show compassion to other people. By observing that their sibling is “sad,” they can hug them. Or, if your child notices that their teacher is “upset,” they can avoid being cheeky or cracking jokes that could further aggravate their teacher.
As your kid grows and starts socializing more, it’s wise to improve their emotional intelligence as this makes it easy for your child to develop compassion, empathy, and a sense of responsible behavior to other people.
One of the easiest ways to improve your child’s emotional vocabulary is by having a feelings chart with labels of feelings and appropriate facial expressions. You can pin the chart somewhere visible in the house and make up a game where you make facials expressions and have your child name the feeling.
Tip 11: Raise a culturally diverse child
Teaching your child about being kind doesn’t just revolve around family and friends. It also applies to strangers, from different cultures, religions, or races.
When your child is aware of and appreciates other people’s differences, it’s easy for them to be empathetic, respectful, and compassionate towards them. One of the best ways to raise a culturally diverse child mindful of other people’s feelings is by modeling kind behavior to people of all shades.
It’s essential to be consistent in your behavior regardless of who you’re interacting with. This helps your child display acts of kindness to everybody, no matter their race, culture, or religion.
Tip 12: Have a “Random Acts of Kindness” day
One effective way to encourage kindness in your child is by setting aside one day a week or month, depending on your schedule, where you go out and do various acts of service.
You can make it a fun family activity and use it as an opportunity to teach your child about compassion and being helpful. To help you out, here are ten random activities you can do together:
- Remove leaves from your neighbor’s lawn.
- Make cupcakes/muffins for the delivery/mailman.
- Give the first five people you meet a compliment.
- Hand thank you notes to the wait staff.
- Help a neighbor water their flowers.
- Check your local’s animal rescue wish list and deliver a couple of items they mind need, like towels.
- Donate to your local food bank.
- Give out books your children no longer read (but are still in great shape) to their friends or even donate at the local library.
- Go to the park and hand out water in disposable bottles to people running, doing yoga, or doing other physical activities.
- Deliver hot muffins/cookies to your local fire station.
Tip 13: Practice self-kindness
Even as you aim to teach your child about being kind and mindful of other people, we must show our kids how to be kind to themselves. You can start by teaching your child to speak positively about themselves and their body.
Let’s take a simple example. When your child finds it challenging to finish a puzzle and says, “I can’t do this, it’s too hard!” you can reply encouragingly and say, “I know you can do it, honey. You’re such a clever girl!”
By speaking positively about your child’s body, talents, and attributes, you make it possible for them to be kind to themselves. Another great tip in teaching your child about self-kindness is to help them say positive affirmations in the morning.
Finally, one of the best and easiest ways to model self-kindness is by encouraging self-care as a way to destress. So, after you’ve had a long day, you can say to your kids, “Mommy has had a tough day at work. Let me take a shower, then we can watch a movie together”.
By embracing self-care, you’re proving to your kids that self-kindness is an essential part of their wellbeing.
The Ultimate Guide for Raising a Kind Child
Raising a kind child doesn’t have to be a complicated journey. And I’m optimistic that the above tips will help make the process easier.
Are there any more tips you’d love to add? I’d love to know your thoughts. Please leave your comment below.
And if you loved this article, please share it with a friend trying to figure out how to raise a kind child. Also, we have other great content on the blog that I bet you’ll love reading, from tips on avoiding mom rage to ways to boost your confidence in the gym postpartum.
As always, thank you for reading. See you at the next one. 😉