Kindness is a virtue that we all talk about to kids as they grow. Schools also play their part in reminding children to be kind. Sharing toys with friends, and expressing gratitude are small gestures that every parent keeps reinforcing in children. However, more can be done to create a kinder world and it can begin with us and our children.
As we celebrate World Kindness Day on November 13th 2023, let’s try to look at ways in which we can motivate our kids to take kindness seriously and perform acts of kindness that are beyond simple gestures.
Why should we teach kindness to kids?
Did you know that kindness not only helps others but also yourself? Research shows that acts of kindness evoke a sense of happiness in humans that releases hormones like serotonin and oxytocin that result in better sleep, improved concentration and lower stress levels.
Kindness is a key trait of the 21st-century world. To succeed in this diversified environment, children must be empathetic, adaptive, and possess a strong sense of service to the community.
It’s also important to understand that kindness is not only about sharing and giving. A kind person likes to help others selflessly and shows positive behaviour.
Ways in which parents can teach kindness to kids:
Exemplify kind behaviour – let’s start with the simplest way. Kids imitate adults and if we are all gracious and kind to people around us, they will learn to do the same. Saying thank you, offering a seat to the needy in public transport, complimenting people, lending a shoulder when someone needs it, and sharing resources with the needy are some of the kind actions we can demonstrate in our day-to-day behaviour.
Talk about kindness – it’s important to talk to children about the importance of kindness since they are too young to understand why its important to be kind to others. Explaining to kids the importance of kindness, karma and responsibility to our society will give them reasons to be kind and generous to people around them. Keep asking them whether they observed or done any act of kindness recently, or how they felt when someone was unkind to them.
Teach kids not to be judgemental – judging others and passing remarks is unkind behaviour. Correcting kids when they form opinions about someone since they are young will make them more understanding and adaptive to different kinds of people and situations.
Teach kids to respect differences – respecting differences is a key trait that kids need to learn to grow as kind individuals, especially when the current world is a melting ground for different ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations. We can make kids kinder by teaching them to be more accepting of differences.
Make them read books on Kindness – children love to read stories, in fact, story books are a great way to instil values in kids. An interesting way to teach kindness is to buy them books where the moral of the story teaches them to be gracious. A few such books to mention are – Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship by Ibtihaj Muhammad, Most People by Michael Leannah and The Together Tree by Aisha Saeed.
Organise Kindness games – playdates are good occasions to teach kindness to kids. When your kids are playing with their group of friends, why not make them play some kindness games so they learn the values while enjoying themselves with friends? Click here to check out some kindness activities and games that you can do with children.
It’s never too early or too late to give the lessons of kindness and compassion to kids. So, if you want to raise a child who is kind and gracious, start modelling good behaviour and keep reminding children that kindness is a great virtue that can set them apart from the rest.
Also, read some tips here on handling tween behaviour.