Inside: If you are wondering how to teach kindness to a child, look no further. We’ve also listed books that teach kids kindness, plus a free and fun kindness rocks challenge and a 30-day kindness calendar.
When you think of your kids as adults, do you imagine them as kind, caring, thoughtful individuals?
The type of people who hold doors open for others, help the elderly and goof around with young kids.
But here’s the thing:
If we want our kids to have a good moral compass, we need to teach them which way is North.
That’s why I’ve listed my favorite 6 ways to raise children to become caring, kind, thoughtful, respectful adults.
So if you’ve been wondering how to teach kindness and empathy, we’ve got you covered!
Why Kindness Matters?
I think you’ll agree with me when I say the world is a scary place.
Turn on the evening news for 5-minutes.
We have a lot of good too, don’t get me wrong.
But it still feels like sometimes the no-good-very-bad-day outweighs the good.
Or, maybe I need a BIG dose of positive thinking?
What is missing here?
What’s missing in our world today is kindness and compassion.
Why is kindness important?
When we practice kindness, we change for the better — and so does our world.
And when our kids practice kindness, they change for the better — and so does our world.
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Try a Little Kindness
Kindness on a basic level is quite easy.
If you see someone in a favorable light you naturally want to be kind to them.
But here’s the thing:
We need to teach kids kindness as their automatic response. Not only in situations, they see favorably.
Kindness can change your life and change the world.
And here’s the best part:
When WE are coming from a place of kindness, we naturally experience kindness from others.
And this is why it is important to be kind to everyone.
Kindness works like a boomerang, it shoots back to you.
Kindness matters, and it all starts with small changes today.
Let’s teach our kids a different mentality AND simultaneously make the world a better place for future generations.
You might be wondering exactly how to teach kindness to a child? Well, read on for 6 smart AND fun ways.
How to Teach kindness to a Child – 6 Smart Ways
1. Ensure being kind to others is automatic
Are you guilty of prioritizing your child’s academic achievements over their caring gestures?
I’m not saying goal-oriented achievements aren’t important. Don’t get me wrong, goals are very important. But we need to put some emphasis on our kid’s character as well.
We need to acknowledge their kind and thoughtful actions too.
Some examples of amazing character include:
- Picking an underdog for a sports team
- Standing up for a friend who is being bullied
- Sharing something important (like when my toddler shares his skittles, it’s a BIG deal)
But you might be asking:
How do I teach character?
Children instinctually want to make their parents proud.
Yes, even when it seems like they hate you. They still want your approval and recognition.
Start by telling your child that caring and kindness are important.
Then, notice and verbalize when they do nice things.
We have an epic list of 77 beautiful acts of kindness for kids along with these helpful free posters and calendars.
And lastly, hold your child up to ethical expectations. Ethical expectations look like honoring commitments (even if it’s not what they want to do).
Try saying: The most important thing is that your kind.
Children need to hear from parents that caring for others is a top priority.
Start small, and slowly incorporate conversations into your days ahead. This will help how to teach kindness to a child
Consider these table topics conversation starters.
We use these questions at dinner time and bedtime too. They really get your child talking and your family connecting.
2. Model Kindness and Teach Empathy
Children learn behaviors by watching adults. And as parents, you are the biggest teacher your child will ever have.
Do you want to raise kind kids? Then be kind yourself.
Little eyes are always watching.
Practice fairness, honesty, and caring for yourself.
Some examples of practicing kindness are:
- being polite to waitstaff
- not talking bad behind other’s back
- not gossiping
- being kind to animals
- using a gentle touch
- not yelling
Another great way to teach your child about kindness is to teach them empathy.
A great way to do this would be to have some interesting dinnertime conversations:
In our household we play a game called, what would you do if?
- What would you do if someone was picking on a classmate?
- What would you do if your best friend was hurting a helpless animal?
Empathy is best taught in real-life scenarios.
One of your kids eats the last two freezies in the box and doesn’t give his sister one.
Your daughter is crying while your son is licking freezie juice from his fingers.
Before yelling at your son for being so selfish, take a moment and teach them empathy:
Get down on your child’s level. Look him/her in the eye so you know you have their attention, then, ask a few questions:
- How do you think your sister feels not getting a freezie?
- Do you think she is upset?
- How would you feel if your sister ate the last freezie and you didn’t get one?
Your child can then start to consider that others have feelings — and furthermore learn how their actions are affecting others.
On your journey of how to raise kind kids, empathy is a crucial skill!
3. Give kids a chance to practice kindness
It’s one thing to know the theory of kindness and another to practice.
We need to give our child an opportunity to practice kindness.
They can start by expressing gratitude for their good fortunes.
Try to make gratitude a daily ritual at dinnertime or bedtime.
Check out this epic article of 17 gratitude activities and how to teach gratitude to kids, then grab these helpful gratitude worksheets.
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Next, I would suggest you encourage your children to slowly start helping around the house.
Kids can start with small tasks, such as wiping the table or making their bed. Teach them manners, please and thank-you.
Perhaps grab our free kid’s chore chart here?
We can form the habit of being kind, much like forming a habit of waking up early.
In our house, we started a chore chart. It’s been so valuable in teaching my son responsibility.
We have three jars: one for saving, one for spending and one for giving.
This gives my son an opportunity to think of kind gestures he wants to do for others.
Gestures such as buying a present for a friend, or donating a gift to someone in need.
And finally, these are a few more ideas to help kids practice being kind:
- Mindfulmazing’s very own guide Mighty Mindful Kids has some brilliant kindness and connection exercises. (Plus awareness, emotional regulation, focus, and connection exercises too).
- Don’t forget to keep modeling kindness as we discussed in step 2.
- Offer a family member a tissue when needed, help apply Band-Aids, ask if your kids are okay.
- Read quotes about kindness for kids
- Snag these 101 compliments for kids, and tell your kids every day!
- And never run out of acts of kindness ideas again with this epic list.
When you are wondering how to teach kids kindness, there are all fantastic places to start.
4. Expand your child’s circle of concern
After you’ve introduced kindness at home, maybe start to branch out a little.
Teach kids it’s important to care about others besides our close family and friends.
- What about a shy kid
- The bus driver
- Kids in other countries?
Okay, did I go too far with the mosquitos?
The point is:
Start to teach kids about basic kindness to ALL living beings.
When your kids are old enough you can use the newspapers to teach them about hardships others face.
Teach them to comfort and care for others in need.
Teach them to be polite to waitstaff, tradespeople and any other people we come into contact with.
To encourage this mindset you could:
- Make valentines for kids in foster homes
- Give toys away
- Visit someone at a nursing home
- Make kindness rocks and hide them throughout the neighborhood
Download this free poster with 77 awesome acts of kindness for kids.
Check out our kindness rock challenge kit here. Download yours for free. Instructions included (and instructions below).
5. Teach kids how to deal with difficult emotions (A+ in how to teach kindness to a child)
Some emotions overtake others.
Often anger and jealousy can railroad our good and productive feelings.
And the problem is:
Anger will override kindness.
Here’s what you can do.
Start to teach your children how to cope with difficult emotions and stressful times.
And the way we do this?
Mindfulness for kids.
And you are in luck here, because our main focus here at Mindfulmazing, is you guessed it…
…Mindfulness for kids.
And you can read any of these articles and get a solid feel for how to do this:
- How to Teach Kids Mindfulness
- Why You Should Teach Kids Mindfulness
- 15 Mindfulness Exercises Kids Will Love
Some common exercises to begin to teach your child emotional regulation include:
Ask your child to count when upset. Perhaps even count backward from 10.
Take 10 deep breaths. Inhale for 1, exhale for 2.
In time and with practice your kids will start doing these things by themselves.
Anger and anxiety can overpower kindness. Teaching kids to self-regulate can return them to their beautiful little selves.
6. Read Books About Kindness
A nice compliment to everything you are doing to teach your kids kindness is to read some fun books about kindness:
Be Kind by Pat Miller – “Be Kind is a sweet and thoughtful picture book about kindness that gets the message across without being heavy-handed.” – Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
How Full is Your Bucket Today? By Carol McCloud – This book aims to teach children that your actions affect others. It also demonstrates that it feels good to “fill the buckets” of others with kindness and love.
Listening with My Heart by Gabi Garcia – In this story, children learn that it’s not only important to show compassion to others, but to themselves as well. After reading, talk to your children about ways they can show kindness to themselves in difficult moments.
I am Human by Susan Verde – I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family—millions strong.
After reading these books about kindness, talk to your children about the message of each story and how they can apply these concepts to their own lives.
Another awesome way to raise kind kids is doing the kindness rocks project.
How would you feel if you stumbled upon a beautifully painted rock with an inspirational message?
I bet you’d feel like it’s your lucky day.
Well, you can be that kindness spreader, and kindness rocks is a wonderful exercise to do with your kids.
This amazing initiative was started by Megan Murphy. And she’s been spreading kindness around the world, one rock at a time.
It’s pretty simple:
- Gather rocks
- Clean your rocks
- Paint your rocks
- Distribute your rocks
And spread some love and kindness throughout your community.
And for the rock paint may I suggest non-toxic acrylic craft paint.
We have a kindness rocks activity kit for you to snag if you’d like to try this fun craft with your kids. Simply opt-in below and this instant download (and two other posters) will be delivered straight to your inbox.
Final thoughts on how to teach kindness to a child
When in doubt, always choose kindness.
I’m so excited for you to get out there and make the world a better place. So spread that kindness from the rooftops like confetti!
And that’s a wrap!
So if you’ve been wondering how to teach kindness to a child, then I hope these ideas will inspire you.
I can’t wait to catch the boomerang effect of your kindness!
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