Five ways to raise kind children

Every parent wants their child to grow into a successful, well-adjusted adult. But we also hope they’ll become kind, caring, and compassionate individuals.

While it’s certainly important to encourage hard work and academic success in our children, it’s just as essential that we teach, reinforce and practice character traits like honesty, integrity, and empathy.

Because, while human beings may be hardwired for kindness, studies show that actively cultivating an attitude of compassion daily promotes happiness and life satisfaction.

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Five ways to raise kind children

But how can we do that? To help you, here are five ways you can raise your children to be kind.

1) Set an example

Parents serve as early role models for their kids, and children often try to emulate their parents’ behaviour. So, one of the best ways to encourage your children to be kind is to practice what you preach.

According to MomsWhoThink: “It turns out that lessons of love and respect for fellow human beings are taught primarily by example. If you want to teach your child to be kind to others, you must do so yourself.”

So pay close attention to your own behaviour; the way you treat others, how you settle disagreements, and the language you use, etc.

Remember, that your children are always observing you, so whenever possible try to be courteous towards others. Use your interactions as teachable moments, and explain the ‘why’ behind your behaviour.

If you donate money or offer food to a homeless person, for example, explain that some people aren’t as fortunate as others. And when you thank someone for serving or helping you, teach your children how important it is to say thank you.

2) Prioritise kindness

Make sure your children understand that kindness and compassion are just as important as individual achievements. In one study, about 80% of children said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether or not they cared for others.

It’s up to you to make sure that your children understand the importance of being kind and caring. Encourage them to consider how their actions impact others, and when they do something kind for someone else, make sure you acknowledge it.

Your individual parenting style will determine the best way to praise and/or reward your child for their kindness. Just make sure their behaviour doesn’t go unnoticed.

3) Give back as a family

Giving back is one of the best ways to promote kindness and teach kids to help those in need. And there are plenty of ways to give back as a family. Look for volunteer opportunities at the local animal shelter, soup kitchen, senior centre, or hospital.

You can also teach your kids about giving back without even leaving your home by encouraging them to donate clothes, games, toys, and other items they don’t use for a good cause.

4) Remember your manners

Children who use good manners aren’t just a reflection of good parenting, they’re generally kind, courteous individuals. And it’s important to teach kids to use manners, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because of the way it makes others feel.

When you say “please” and “thank you”, you acknowledge a person’s effort, which makes them feel valued and appreciated. And while you can remind your kids to use their manners, it’s more effective to model this behaviour yourself, so practice what you preach and use your manners!

5) Practice, practice, practice!

Like any other skill, you can increase your capacity for kindness through repetition and practice. So encourage your children to practice kindness everyday. This may seem like a lofty goal but remember, it doesn’t take a grand gesture to be kind.

Suggest ways your children can practice small acts of kindness every day. Like sharing their lunch with a classmate, smiling, offering to help someone in need, using their manners, and more. If you make kindness an integral part of their day, it will quickly become second nature for your kids.

How can you encourage kindness in your children?

It’s never too early to start encouraging acts of kindness in your children. So look for small ways you can make kindness a daily habit for your whole family. Not only will it make you all feel good, but it will have a positive knock-on effect in the world around you.

Maile Proctor is a blogger and content editor. She writes articles on health and fitness, family and lifestyle, advice, how-to and more. She earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking in San Diego, CA.