It was a cloudy day in November, when my 8-year-old son’s class was set to go on a field trip. On the bus, my son wanted to go sit with a friend who he sees during recess and P.E time only. They have been good friends since they started school. Once he went and sat next to him, he heard the words “Get Out of Here.” The same friend wanted to sit with a ‘new favorite’ and found no other way to talk to my son. Feeling embarrassed my son moved to the other seat with his friend.
That day while recalling this incident my son told me that “It hurt his feelings when that friend talks to him like that.” This was not the first time something like this happened. After providing different solutions to my son, to solve this problem of dealing with a mean child, I couldn’t help but think about the importance of parent’s responsibility to instill kindness in their children.
As parent, it is our moral responsibility to teach our kids respectfulness, kindness and compassion so we can leave a great legacy behind. It is a way of living and an attitude of life that helps children turn into adults who can bring positive difference in the society.
Here are few ways, parents can help their kids turn into a kindhearted adult.
Make Apologizing Normal
Teach your child to look outward, not inward. The perspective of having to understand how other feels will not let a child be selfish. If you face circumstances where your child is wrong and at fault, make an effort to make the situation right by making them apologize. Also, positively reinforce the better behavior than what they have shown. If you don’t, they will likely repeat the same behavior.
Apologizing teaches humbleness and to understand that we all make mistakes will help them forgive when asked apologies for. We need to help them realize, that we must co-exist and feelings and well-being of others matter too.
Discuss the Importance of Showing Kindness and Care
Emphasize on the importance of small acts of kindness that goes a long way.
Have them read booksthat talks about compassion and empathy. Books will reinforce good values and will show them plenty of example of emphatic characters.
Discuss with them every day about one action of kindness they showed, that they think made a difference for someone else.
Shield them from anything on the television that shows violence and aggressive behavior. This will model the negative behavior that we want them to not get exposed to.
Provide Opportunities of Care
To instill compassion, as parents, we should be providing opportunities to our kids to be helpful to others. Take them to volunteer services with you. Ask them to help you fill up your donation box with you. Point out to the kid who is playing alone in the park and is having difficulty interacting and making friends. Ask them to help the new child in the class. If they witness someone getting bullied, they should be the first to help that child. Teach them to always offer a helping hand whenever possible.
Expand their Circle of Concern
Almost all kids are kind and empathic to someone in their immediate circle. The real challenge is to get them emphasize to the people outside of their immediate circle of concern. It shouldn’t matter if a person in need of help or care is someone they know or love. Create an outlook for them where they feel part of the bigger circle; their community, city and the country.
Start at home! Show kindness and respect to your kids. They are little humans who need to know that they are respected by others. Getting respect is going to teach them to show respect. Model kindness yourself for your kids. Kids are mirror of their parents. They are little sponges that absorbs everything they see or hear. Make sure to model good character and kindness in front of them. The little things in life; holding door for someone, greeting someone in the morning, smiling at a stranger passing by, preparing a delicious meal for a sick friend or neighbor, being happy for other, offering a helping hand to people when possible are all great examples of modeling this behavior in front of your children.
Give them Responsibilities
It is very important to raise responsible children in this entitled world. Get them in habit of cleaning after themselves after lunches and dinners. They should be responsible for keeping their rooms clean and tidy, should be cleaning up their toys. Coats, backpacks and shoes should go where they are supposed to. Honestly, it takes time to develop habits. In our household, it is still work in progress. Be consistent and hang in there!
Assign age appropriate household chores is a great way to make them responsible. Create an overall helpful household culture is a great way to make them compassionate.
Positive reinforcement is highly effective in encouraging good behavior in children. Appreciate their behavior when they show good character and concerns for others. In result of consistent positive reinforcement you can expect kids to repeat positive and god behavior.