Raising Kind Kids: 3 Ways to Teach Kindness
While kindness has always been an important attribute that we want our kids to have, it seems like it’s never been as important as it is today. Every time you turn on the TV or scroll through your newsfeed, there seems to be some type of story that shows a need for kindness.
Where can we feed this need? Right at home with our little ones.
Kindness starts with us and with our kids. If we can do a few little things now, our kids will grow up knowing nothing else but to be kind. Wouldn’t that be nice?
But, how do you teach kindness? It goes well beyond just telling your kids to be nice. If you want to make kindness a part of your daily routine, check out these three ways to teach kindness to the smallest members of your house. We’re pretty sure that the adults will get something out of them too.
Take the Time to Breathe
From the moment you hit the snooze on your alarm clock to the moment you’re out the door, you’re in a race against time...time that slips away so quickly in the morning. Are we right?
But, if you can take a few minutes to breathe in the morning and practice mindfulness with your family, you’re not only setting the tone for the day, but you can be more patient and kind to your kids and teach them kindness by example.
Research shows that when we’re more mindful, we’re happier and nicer to others. But, how do you do this with little ones?
You can breathe mindfully whenever you get a few minutes, even a 5 min breathing exercise can make a difference in your day. There are tons of apps that teach mindfulness, the trick is making the time in your daily routine to practice it. Since it doesn't have determinable consequences, it's something that is easy to neglect so making time for it seems like a luxury, but it in fact is a necessary reset for you and your loved ones.
You can make a point of practicing mindfulness before you get out of bed, before or after showering or before you leave the house. If you don't find time early in the day, you can perhaps squeeze it in during your commute when you're otherwise sitting on a bus or train or even maybe when you're waiting for your coffee. The idea is to just take a few minutes to slow down and get a sense of well-being.
Speak Positively to Your Kids
We know it can be tough to stay positive with all that’s going on in the world. But, the more positive you can be and the kinder we can talk to our kids, the kinder they will become in return. Makes sense, right?
While it can be easy to point out when your little one uses your walls as a drawing pad or when they’ve kept you up all night because of the “monsters” under the bed, challenge yourself to speak to them more positively while honestly explaining your concern.
Studies have shown that speaking to kids positively and teaching them to speak positively about themselves makes them more compassionate. That’s huge when you want them to get on the kindness caravan.
Instead of yelling the next time your child empties a box of cereal on the floor, turn it around and say something like, “I love how curious you are, but the floor is dirty & eating dirty cereal can make you sick. Can you help me clean this us and then together we can discover other things together?"
While you may want to pull your hair out the next time your child decides to take all of your pots and pans out of the cabinet and lay them all over the floor, turn it into a problem-solving activity. Ask them how they can fit the different tops on the different pans. When they match them correctly, praise them for a job well done.
There doesn’t have to be a grand parade to be positive. By just incorporating little things every day, you’re teaching your children to be kind.
Make Kindness a Priority
If you want kids to make kindness a new habit, make them accountable for it. Studies have shown that making people accountable for their actions can help them form new habits.
Let your kids know that being kind is a priority in your house. You can do this by trying things like a kindness jar. You can ask them to say one nice thing about anyone else in the house. Write it down for them and put it in the jar. Have everyone else in the house do the same. At the end of the month, take out all of the nice thoughts and read them together as a family. This is letting your children know at a very young age that kindness is a priority in your house.
If they don’t want to participate or say they can’t think of anything, push them a little and explain how important these things are. Hopefully, they’ll get on board and see that kindness counts.
You can even help your kids spread the message of kindness in the clothing they wear. At Estella, we offer onesies and t-shirts with inspirational messages to help kids spread kindness every day.
Remember, kindness starts with you!