But what about their social development? How do we teach our children to be kind to others?
1. Catch Them Being Good
I read somewhere that to fill your children’s love tank, for every negative thing you say, you need to balance that with 10 positive things.
OUCH! (I need to do a better job)
Praise your children when you see them behaving the way you want, instead of always telling them what NOT to do.
2. Model Good Behavior, Mom
In our home, teaching kindness starts with modeling.
No, my daughters aren’t in modeling school, but they’re learning by watching my example. If I’m a grumpy mom, chances are strong that they’ll be irritable as well.
If I’m snippy to my husband, I shouldn’t be surprised when my kids answer me the same way.
If I want my children to treat each other kindly, I’ve got to model that behavior myself.
3. Role Play
This doesn’t work so well for babies and toddlers, but it’s perfect for the other kids. I ask Rachel and the boys to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
“How would you feel if you were new, and no one spoke to you?”
“If you fell down and hurt yourself and I laughed, what would you think.”
Taking a moment to put the shoe on the other foot at least helps my children to understand that words and actions matter.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
Take a minute and look at your day. How can you build in moments of kindness? To bring a smile to your family’s face by your actions?
It doesn’t have to be something elaborate. Just a simple, random act of kindness can speak volumes.
Get your kids involved. Brainstorm and think of things you can to together as a family to bless other people and bring them joy.
5. Talk about What They Watch
My children don’t have unlimited screen time, but have to check with me for the Mom stamp of approval of a show or movie. We stick to characters who help to reinforce the values that I’m trying to teach my little ones.
We enjoy watching them as a family and talking about friendship, respect and kindness. We chat about how the characters work together and overcome challenges that are familiar to my children.
Need some ideas for shows and movies to help foster a discussion about kindness?
Here are some of our favorites:
What about you? How do you teach kindness to your kids?
P.S. Dealing with bullying? We’ve got you covered.