Teaching Children How to Be Kind to Family Members and Others

A mother and daughter packing lunch together.

Doucleff believes it is not necessary to praise children constantly which is something urban parents often do. (Image: rubbermaid via Flickr)

As parents, not only are you constantly trying to impart and teach your children core life values and lessons, but you are also teaching them how to be kind, along with the golden rules for good behavior.

In providing children with life skills and lessons, the development of emotional intelligence is often overlooked. Children naturally develop compassion, empathy, kindness, and other values as they grow up.

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However, as per research, emotional intelligence is a decisive factor when it comes to achieving success in the quality of life, health, and relationships.

Therefore, it is wiser to take the initiative and introduce your little ones to emotional intelligence and self-awareness, and help them learn to be kind not only for their own sakes, but also for the sake of the wider world so that it can become a better place in the future.

Parenting involves guiding your children’s imaginations into the various ways they can do good to the people around them. The trick is to do the same without being pushy.

Learning to be kind by example

Here is how you can take gradual steps to raise children who are emotionally well adjusted and will grow into a more sensitive generation of people.

Kindness is the virtue that every child must be encouraged to foster. Teach them that there is an enormous inner strength in being kind. Children have a natural sense of expressing their emotions and displaying empathy for others. As a parent, you must show them that this is one of the most indispensable values that everyone must have.

A woman helping two girls fold lotus flowers.
All hands on deck! A few simple words such as ‘Please let me help you’ can be the beginning of your child’s incorporation of compassion. (Image: via Janine Rankin)

Kindness and empathy are nothing but understanding another person’s difficulties or dire straits. It is also knowing the appropriate thing to do, or not do, as the case may be. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of another person. Parents must teach children to ask for help and how to reach out to help others.

While in school or at the playground, teach your children to have a subtle understanding of other children’s emotions and situations, and approach them to offer help with something. A simple “Let me help you” can be the beginning of your child’s incorporation of compassion. It could even be a younger brother or sister that always feels left out, is going through a difficult time, and may need a helping hand.

Introduction to basic courtesies

A child who is familiar with basic courtesies right from early childhood is more confident and has higher self-esteem. With time, as the child develops the sense of when and how to greet people, he/she will not only be well-mannered toward others, but will also be compassionate toward people and approachable to others.

Children are quick to pick up habits and lessons from their parents. The parents must set positive examples by practicing saying “sorry,” “please,” and “thank you” as and when needed. You are not your children’s friend. Your young ones are very clever and adorable. They know you so well and can wind you round their little finger. You are teaching them life-sustaining discipline. You are teaching your children how to be alert, strong, and wholesome in their habits. Sometimes you must be firm and say: “No!” This in turn will teach them when and how to say “no” themselves.

It is also important that the parents allow children to pick up these habits at their own pace and time and to be patient with them. Parents may also incentivize good behavior or acknowledge the good mannerisms as and when their child displays them. Who does not like some praise now and again?

Teach them how to ask for help if needed, and how to accept criticism

Learning from constructive criticism is how your child can develop an understanding of some of the most important life lessons. However, it is not as easy as it sounds. Children do not do very well in dealing with criticism and therefore, it is up to the parent to make it easier for their children to process negative feedback and gain lessons from it.

Particularly with social media platforms, your children are very vulnerable to criticism from their peers. I firmly believe that it is essential to teach your precious child that other people’s opinions of them have nothing to do with your child. What others think of your child is their business, or as the case may be, their problem. There is an ingenious childhood rhyme that goes: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Generally, the loop of feedback that your children may find themselves trapped in begins at school. The first step is to encourage your child to be comfortable enough to express their feelings and opinions in front of you.

Following their expression, you might want to empathize with their feeling of embarrassment or guilt. Ensure that you start with the acknowledgment of their emotions in a way that they are more likely to respond.

Mamma, I just might need a bit of help with this after all.
Mamma, I just might need a bit of help with this after all. (Image: thebittenword via Flickr)

You can start with something like “I know you are upset” and gradually proceed to make them identify what went wrong in the context. Your child’s ability to grasp the understanding of constructive criticisms and take lessons from them develops gradually. Ensure that you are compassionate and understanding toward them throughout.

Learning respect and self-esteem

To respect someone is to provide that particular person with love and enough attention. Positive parenting involves parents teaching their children to be respectful without being rude or unruly in their behavior toward their child.

Confronting the signs of disrespect in your child must be done early, but it must be done without lamenting how “disrespectful” your child is. Remember that children reflect your behavior at home and therefore, it is necessary as parents that you do not exhibit inappropriate, disapproving behavior.

Learning to be kind is a continuous process. As proud parents of a little one, you must keep your head and help your child navigate through his or her emotions as they develop into an empathetic human being and build up self-confidence and self-esteem.

Please take into account also, that some children, like adults, are fiercely independent and self-reliant, and they want to figure it all out for themselves. If this is the profile of your child, I suggest, if I may, you can respect that noble characteristic and at the same time you, as a wise parent, will still monitor and oversee their welfare and wellbeing. You know that teenagers, in particular, are old enough to know everything. It is all about finding a balance.

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