Top 10 Ways To Teach Your Child Kindness: Adapted from Parents.com
From our friends at Black Bear Academy
Make helping a family affair. When a friend gets sick or a local family falls on hard times, grown-ups know what to do. They send flowers, bake casseroles, and pass the collection plate at church. Get your kids involved in these projects. Ask them what they’d like to do to help out. And when you drive over to deliver the gifts, take your kids along. They’ll find out firsthand how good it feels!
Share the wealth. Teach your kids to see the abundance all around them and to think of people to share it with. Is your child’s shelf overflowing with books? Suggest he donate a box to the library or a local family shelter. Package up leftover soup or cinnamon rolls, and take them to an elderly neighbor.
Teach respect for the earth. Never litter. Even if something drops by mistake, make a point to pick it up. And if you see an old newspaper or a used coffee cup left on a park bench, throw it away. It feels good to take care of a mess you didn’t make and weren’t “supposed” to clean up.
Assign chores. Kids should understand that a certain amount of helping is requested and required “just because”: just because they’re members of the family, and just because it’s the right thing to do. It can be as simple as putting out cups on the dinner table, matching the clean socks, or putting their plates in the dishwasher.
Teach teamwork. How often have you hosted a playdate and been left with what looks like a scene from the movie Twister? Dolls strewn everywhere, glue and glitter splattered on tables, juice cups and crumbs all over? When your child is a guest, make sure she helps clean up before she leaves. If the host insists it’s not necessary, say, “Let us pick up three things and then we’ll be on our way.” Putting away a few toys is a great way to practice the art of pitching in.
Perform small acts of kindness. Does your child have a friend that’s out sick? Make them a get well card. Simple gestures mean a great deal and children imitate what is modeled for them. Show them that thinking of others is a priority.
Don’t criticize their efforts. Yes, they can get the wet towels off the floor faster, and pour the milk without spilling it, but if you take over (or critique too much) it leaves your little helpers feeling inept, unskilled — and less likely to offer their services again. You’re teaching them that they can make a difference at home. Just imagine how good they’ll feel when they step out into the world.
Lighten someone’s load. Send your child out to meet the mail carrier on the sidewalk before he or she has to climb your steps. Let someone with less stuff at the grocery store go ahead of you in line at the supermarket. Have your child pick up the neighbors newspaper and bring it their front door!
Cheer up a stranger (or a friend). Did you see someone trip as they were walking down the street? Ask if they are okay! Is a friend sad? Give her a hug. Teaching your kids to notice what’s going on in the lives of others around them fosters empathy and can inspire them to become keen helpers.
Give thanks. Compliment a stranger on her great sweater, say “good morning” to a neighbor, and thank the pizza delivery guy. Sometimes a simple acknowledgment or expression of appreciation is all the boost someone needs to get through the day.