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You probably remember a time when you rolled up to the drive-thru window and your order was already paid for by the person in front of you. This simple act of kindness may have prompted you to pay it forward, or maybe it just put a smile on your face. Either way, it made you feel good.
Just like anything else, parents must teach their children to be kind. Kids do not learn behaviors all on their own, which is why it is important to show them. Instilling kindness in your children is much like teaching them how to ride a bike. Just like any other process, it takes time and practice.
Teaching by example
Instilling kindness in your kids starts with you. One of the best ways to teach your children to be kind is by doing good deeds yourself. Kids learn by example, and often, you are their number one role model. It is important to implement small acts of kindness into your daily routine, so those behaviors will rub off on your children. You can try some of these to get started:
Giving children positive affirmation when they display kind behavior is another great way to help them learn. Author of Teaching Kids to be Kind
, Rachel Tomlinson, says “Children learn to be kind, not only by receiving kindness, but by experiencing the warmth and satisfaction of offering kindness and compassions to others.” When you show your children the benefits of being kind, it will automatically encourage them to keep displaying that behavior.
When your child displays unkind behaviors, it is important to have a disciplinary plan in place. You want your child to understand why their behavior was unkind, as well as why they should not do it again. Even though discipline is important, you can try to mitigate the need for it with positive affirmation. “Research indicates that providing positive reinforcement for a job well done is more impactful than negative consequences for poor behavior,” says licensed psychologist, Dr. Beatriz Mann. In co-parenting situations, you want to make sure behavioral expectations and any related punishments are consistent across separated households.
Children also learn by doing. Your kids can do simple activities to help them understand the importance of kind behavior. Consider making a list of random acts of kindness for your children to complete:
- Help a neighbor with a small chore
- Smile at someone who looks sad
Give a friend a compliment
Make a card for someone you love
Hug your sibling
Talk to someone who feels left out at school
When your kids finish the list, treat them with positive affirmation. Getting your children in the habit of doing random acts of kindness is a great way to instill ood behaviors in the long run.
Kindness in Co-Parenting
It can be especially beneficial for co-parents to display kind behaviors toward each other in front of their children. This can help your kids understand the importance of kindness in their daily lives, even in difficult situations with others. Children imitate the behaviors they see at home, which is why this is especially important in these scenarios.
TalkingParents blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified attorney regarding legal matters.