One of the major goals of most parents is raising kids to be kind, compassionate people, but the details of how to do that can be a little fuzzy. Last night, my 5 year old offered to give his Winnie the Pooh ornaments to his 2 year old brother since he likes Pooh so much, so at the moment I’m feeling like what I’m doing is working and I’m inclined to share.
Your kids learn best through observing others, so let your kids see you treating others with kindness. Explain to your children why you are stopping in a parking lot to let someone cross in front of you, instead of nearly running them down when you’re in a hurry. Tell them how giving money to whatever charitable organization you choose to donate to is helping. This is especially true with young children. It is difficult for them to connect writing a check or making an online donation with doing any good for anyone. So be specific and tell them about the trees in the rainforest that you’re saving, or the hungry children that your donation will feed. Let them see that it is important to think of others.
Using books to show children how being kind to others is a helpful tool. Stories can be a powerful way to share a message you want to get across without sounding like you’re giving a lecture. It is important to discuss the story after you read it to see if they came to the conclusion the story was intended to lead them to. This kid-friendly method helps them see how they could use the lessons of the story in their daily life. A few of my favorites from my childhood are Miss Suzy by Miriam Young, The Talking Eggs by Robert D. San Souci, and Alexander and the Magic Mouse by Martha Sanders.
Another great way to show kids to be kind is to treat them with kindness. Treat them with respect and caring. Although it can be very challenging when you are exhausted from being up all night with the baby, and your preschooler is getting on your last nerve, show them the patience and kindness that you hope they will be able to display toward others in the future. They will see that when you get to be a grownup, you learn to have some control over how you act, even when upset. Showing your kids by example that you should always treat others with compassion or caring, even when you are not happy with how someone else is behaving will give them a model for how to act, even if achieving that is difficult for a small child.
I have found that there are some good days and some bad. Just when it seems like my kids aren’t learning anything and will never grow up to be the kind, caring people I would like them to be they do something that makes me realize they are absorbing the things I am trying to teach them. While childish actions win more often than not at this age, they are learning what they need to be the kind of adults I hope they will be.
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