Kindness is what we, as a anti-bullying advocacy organization, try to remind people of daily. Simply telling people to be kind is helpful, but we would also like to share ways that people can begin to try to foster kindness in their everyday lives. We do not just wake up one day and master this action. Kindness often comes up and can be tightly joined with patience. Like patience, kindness is mastered through experience. There may be ways that we find that we are able to be kind always and others where we need to truly learn to choose it more. Inspiring our children to be kind helps them, but also others as well. Creating an environment of kindness has health benefits on us all individually and in our relationships. Here are some ways to inspire your child to be kind:
- Lead by example. This is number one and we cannot encourage it enough. Children are always watching us to the point where even if your children do not intentionally want to be like you, their subconscious mind will take in how you act and handle situations in life and they will do the same when the opportunity presents itself, soon after or even later on in life. This has somewhat to do with DNA and genes, but it is also based on the environment that a child was raised in and the type of behaviors that were instilled in him or her. Living a life of compassion and trying to learn to be kind ourselves can truly go a long way in helping kindness to become natural for our children.
- Make giving a habit. Does your child hoard every possible thing that he or she has been given over the years? Perhaps starting to encourage your child to give away clothes or toys that he or she no longer can fit or plays with is a start. Sometimes we as parents may give clothes or toys away, but allowing our children to be apart of that process can help them see the importance of giving. You can also take this a step further by having your child select something that they do actually still love to give away every so often just to help him or her understand this concept and to even keep an awareness around non-attachment to physical things that could always be taken away from us at any given moment.
- Use sibling or extended family interaction to teach about sharing. When a child is playing with a toy, the first inclination of a parent is often to allow another chlid to take it away when another child comes over to play with it. This is not necessary. If you have two or more children, you can easily teach about waiting their turn in a situation like this. Some children do not like when others play with their toys even when they are not playing with them in a specific moment. This would be a great instance to teach about sharing.
- Teach manners and about being polite even among immediate family. Saying “please” and “thank you” can go a long way when it comes to instilling kindness in our children. We can teach them this by even using these phrases when they give us anything or when we ask them to do an action. Being certain that we are using the phrases also with people we interact with in our household and everyday lives can ensure that our children will see an example of kindness in these areas as well.
- Give back. Donating money, time and resources to charities and communities will help children learn kindness. Allowing your child to pick a cause that matters to him or her can inspire him or her even the more.
- Teach ways to express emotions when your child does not want to be kind. Being kind is not about repressing emotions. One must learn to express themselves with their words and in healthy actions and activities in order to be able to be kind continuously in all situations. Not knowing how to do this is what usually can create a lifestyle of unkindness.
We hope this inspires you to continue to be kind or to work on being kind more if it is a struggle so that you can inspire your child to embrace and demonstrate this trait towards himself and to the rest of humanity. Click here to learn more about our cause to end bullying.