We are living in a self-centered world. Our kids won’t learn to be kind and selfless unless we, the parents, teach them. It isn’t a difficult concept to instill, but it does take a little work on our part. Here are five ways to teach your children to be kind according to a Harvard research study.
- Give kids the chance to show kindness. Volunteer time with organizations that help needy people. This can be volunteering at a homeless shelter during lunch or dinner. Maybe you can volunteer to clean up trash at a local park. Children even have the opportunity to volunteer at their schools as mentors or homework helpers.
- Be a role model and find a role model. If children see someone doing the right thing, they are more likely to copy that person. When you have the chance to be kind and do something for someone else, take it. This could also mean you find someone who is making a difference and ask if your kid can work with them.
- Show your children perspective. It is OK to show kids that there are a lot of problems in the world. There are people who are hungry, who need clean water, refugees with nothing, and so many more issues. There are also people right down the street who have no home and children who have lost their parents due to family problems. It is important to see the big picture as well as the face of the person around the corner. Telling them there are homeless people is one thing. Going to a shelter and meeting those people makes it more personal.
- Help kids process their feelings. There are lots of feelings that can be counteractive to kindness: jealous, anger, shame. Showing children these are normal and giving them healthy ways to respond to these feelings helps them. “When adults spark children’s thinking with ethical questions they put issues of injustice on children’s radar and help children learn how to weigh their various responsibilities to others and themselves.”
- Take responsibility, parents. We need to show our children how to do the right thing. We need to stop expecting the school or religious organizations to teach our children how to care for others. Kindness starts at home.