Kindness is a word that we are all acquainted with. We hear people talking about it every day; at home, in schools, places of worship and at work. It’s free, it feels great, and it’s within our control. It is necessary that we teach our children at their impressionable ages to be kind.
As part of our A to Z parenting tips series today we look at how to teach children to be kind. We all have the ability to share and be kind so, why is it so difficult to be kind at times? We have all heard popular saying, “Treat others the way you would like to be treated”.
Ways to Teach Our Children Kindness
It is almost impossible to find a toddler who doesn’t want to help ‘mummy or daddy’. Children seem to be naturally configured to be considerate and kind. This attitude and desire to be helpful could either develop or die as they grow up.
As parents we should encourage children to be considerate and learn through interactions to be kind. Children learn more through observation. As parents we are their first point of call and as the saying goes ‘charity begins at home’. Our children learn kindness from what we say and do, how we act around others as role models.
Acts of Kindness
The next time you intend to do something thoughtful for someone, get your child involved. Get them involved in your random acts of kindness as this will go a long way in showing them how good it feels to show kindness to others. So the next time you decide to encourage someone with kind words, or send foodstuff or clothes to the less privileged let your child get involved.
You can let them begin to cultivate the habit of setting aside part of their pocket money towards a cause. Remind them of all the nice things people have done for them, how they felt and how they can spread the joy themselves. They understand a lot better than you think.
Opportunities to Give
Bad news they say spreads fast and far. No matter how bad things get, you will always find those people who strive to make a difference. Show your kids that there are a lot of good people out there by sharing stories and examples. This makes your child feel better about the world they live in and also gets them thinking creatively about ways they can make a difference.
Some years back a story made the headlines in the Nigerian society. Two children from a very highbrow secondary school went on a field trip. The trip exposed them to the deplorable condition of a certain primary school in Lagos. Touched by what they saw, they went back home and set up a fundraising scheme to build new classrooms for the primary school. If your child was born into affluence, find subtle ways of exposing him or her to sharing what he has with others. Even if your child wasn’t born with a silver spoon, teach them to use their time, energy and talents to improve the lives of others. It’s not about how much you have, but about having the right attitude towards giving.
There are many things that do not cost us anything to give, but sows so much into the lives of those receiving it. A warm smile, a rightly timed hug, a pat on the back when necessary, a thank you note, helping a neighbour with their bags, saying thank you are among the little things goes a long way in making people feel appreciated.
Mother Theresa Mother Theresa once said “if you are kind, people will accuse you of ulterior motives, be kind anyway, the good you do today, will often be forgotten, do good anyway. Give the best you have and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” Sometimes a simple acknowledgment or expression of appreciation is all the boost someone needs to get through the day.
Sometimes it can be faster to get things done yourself, but do not go overboard with the perfectionist syndrome. Are you in the habit of criticising your child or ignoring their acts of kindness. When this repeats itself you build into the child’s psyche that their help is not needed. And that their acts of kindness is not appreciated. Praise the child to encourage and reinforce the right attitude.
Opportunities always exist to do good to others. Let your child know that a kind act does not have to happen only when it is asked for. Random acts of kindness truly does make the world go round.