Children are usually focused on what’s right in front of them and cannot see the bigger picture. This means they can have a hard time realising the effects their behaviour can have on other people. Kids are naturally self-centred, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be kind.
Kindness might not seem like the strong choice when conflict arises, but it’s always a courageous one. You can encourage your child to be kind in a range of different ways.
Show them how it’s done
Are you kind to the people around you? Chances are that your child is watching. What you say in the heat of the moment, while you’re stressed about work or family life, or while stuck in traffic, is being heard by the little ears around you. Use these as opportunities to show kindness in action. Take a deep breath and think before you make an off-hand comment or get angry about a situation that can’t be changed. Show your child how to be kind, even when it doesn’t feel like the natural thing to do.
Our children (through no fault of their own) are generally only thinking about themselves. So, they need to be taught how to be empathetic. When issues arise with other children, turn the tables and get your child thinking about how they would feel in that situation. You can do this by asking questions such as:
- How would you feel if someone was making fun of you?
- Would you want someone to praise you for doing the right thing?
- Would you like it if someone criticised or complimented you on your outfit?
- How does it make you feel when someone asks you if you want to play a game?
- Do you like it when someone apologises to you for hurting you?
Use questions to get your child thinking about their actions and the impact they can have on other people.
If you have nothing nice to say…
It’s an old saying, but it’s a good one: if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all. Often being unkind comes from a failure to think about how our words and actions will impact other people. However, there’s rarely a valid excuse for being mean or saying something you know will hurt other people. Teach your child to think before they speak. Get them to ask themselves:
- Is it fair?
- Is it kind?
- Is it true?
Being kind is not always the easy choice. But it’s usually the best one. Sometimes it takes a little courage and some willpower, but with a little thought and practice we can all put more kindness out into the world.