Do your kids know how lucky they are? They’re born into a world of so much beauty, love, and opportunity. And it’s up to us as their parents to show them how grateful we are for our lives and all the good fortune that comes with it. Teaching our children about kindness and compassion is one way to do just that—and it’s one of the most important things we can ever do for them.
A new study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that children who are taught kindness and compassion at a young age tend to be less selfish as adults—and that’s not all. They’re also more likely to help others. This tendency to communicate well and live generously are the “longevity” traits that researchers see as being most predictive of a person’s success in life.
How can parents encourage these behaviors?
In our daycare and preschool in Forest Hills, New York, we recognize that a child’s overall learning does not just comprise their academic achievements. Without good character, their educational background will not make them better contributors to society later in life.
1. Care for Them Every Day
The values we want to teach our children are first made evident in our homes. A child often tends to learn what their parents are doing rather than on what they’re saying. Hence, if you want to teach the value of caring for your child, care for them at home. With simple gestures of love and affection, or preparing their meals, or assisting them for school these can be a starting point for them to feel that they matter a lot to their moms and dads. Eventually, they will learn to channel this out to other children.
2. Set Positive Examples
This is a no-brainer. If you want your child to be kind and caring, you can set these examples yourself. Practicing them in everyday living will not just encourage your kids to do the same, but you’ll also be sending them a positive message that kindness is what you value most in life. Being kind is the most selfless way of loving and helping someone, making it a habit to practice this virtue more often.
Most Importantly, Show Them How. Although you never really stop being a parent, you may be inclined to let your child grow up without needing guidance on how to maintain a cheerful personality and demeanor. However, this is not the best thing to do because this is also important in teaching your child to be kind and compassionate. This will not only make their character more favorable towards others, but it will also help them adjust well with their peers and adults.
3. Teach the Value of Kindness
While we’ve previously mentioned that actions tend to be more influential than words, verbally teaching our child about kindness can also have a powerful influence. Your teachings will serve as their guiding light on what they ought to do in every circumstance. When they repeatedly hear you consider how others feel, they will acquire a deeper understanding of this later on in life. It’s interesting to note that our kids absorb more from what we say than what we do. So, encourage them to always speak with respect and kind words.
This is an essential lesson for boys too. Girls tend to be very positive and proactive in their interactions, so it can be challenging for boys to adjust to how girls prefer to talk to each other. If you notice that your son is rude or disrespectful to other girls, help him understand how he could be a little more careful with what he says. For example, if you see him teasing a girl by calling her fat in front of everyone, explain to him why this is something that you don’t want to see him do. This may be something that comes naturally with the physiological differences between sexes, but it’s never too late for them to learn how to respect women and those around them.
4. Learn to apologize
To be a good person, you need to learn how to accept other people’s apologies. It’s not only crucial that you can recognize and acknowledge when a friend or family member apologizes, but it’s also imperative for you to apologize to someone when you know that you’ve made a mistake or violated someone else. When your kids are young, teach them the importance of apologizing because it can reassure them of their well-being in life.
5. Validate Their Feelings
Being able to care for others involves discerning the feelings of others. For example, our preschoolers may be able to wonder why another child is crying. But the sense of empathizing with the other child’s feelings may be challenging for them to do yet. Still, when you practice validating their emotions, such as frustrations, anger, or joy, they can learn to see this in others. They will also learn to copy your response to their emotions and show the same concern towards other children.
In summary, kindness and compassion can be the catalyst that will give your child the confidence and self-esteem they need to be an extraordinary person. The way you show these traits to them at home is just as important as the way you teach your kids in school. Teach them how to care for others and consistently demonstrate respect, kindness, and compassion towards others, no matter what their age is.
Being a daycare and preschool provider, we greatly support your every endeavor to build up your child. Our team at Baby Steps Daycare / Preschool joins you in nurturing your child not only through early childhood education but also with life-lasting values.