How To Encourage Your Kids To Be Kinder

Whatever our aspirations for our children, we all want them to be kind. Becky Goddard-Hill explains how we can encourage our kids to be kinder people...

How to teach children to be kind

by Becky Goddard-Hill |
Updated on

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Create Your Own Kindness is a new activity book for 6–12-year-olds from child therapist and wellbeing author Becky Goddard-Hill (Collins).

In her book she shares over 50 ways kids can learn to be kinder to themselves, other people and to our planet. Each activity is backed by science and research so children understand why it matters and how it works.

We all have many aspirations for our children, and these can be really individual. We might want them to be amazing drum players, travel the world or be sassy and strong. Some of us might want our children to be religious, ardent feminists, get amazing grades or be highly active.

But all of us - without exception - want our children to be kind.

We want this because we know a life filled with kindness not only feels good but is important; it is a balm in troubled times to be surrounded by kindness and when the chips are down self-kindness is a great healer.

You might be thinking: 'aren’t all children kind?' Or, 'my child is already kind.'

Of course, kids are innately caring and compassionate, it is part of and parcel of human nature but sometimes kids are so focussed on their own needs they can forget to be kind or perhaps not know how in certain situations e.g., when it might be the unpopular thing to do or when someone is quite different to them.

Sometimes kids are awesome at being kind to others, but really beat themselves up when they are anything less than perfect.

Kindness matters so much it is best not left to chance. We need to get in there and teach our kids to fill their lives with kindness. It is crucial part of their emotional wellbeing.

How to teach kindness

Let’s look at 3 simple ways to teach kids to be kinder.

Role model

One of the best ways to teach anything to your child is to have them explicitly see you do it. Let them know you are dropping some cakes to your neighbour. Tell them if you call a friend who has been down in the dumps. Let them know you have had a rough day, so you are having a long bath to be kind to yourself. Let them see you thank your postie for doing a great job.

Kids need to see all sorts of kindness in action and it will influence their behaviour hugely. Kids have always copied their parents far more than they have listened to them.

Words and stories matter too. Show empathy in the way you talk about others. Talk to your kids about bullying and discrimination. And read to them too (a lot) about people from all kind of backgrounds with all kinds of lifestyles. Empathy is key to kindness.

You are their most important role model.

Notice kindness.

‘What we see depends mainly on what we look for’ John Lubbock

Energy flows where attention goes.

The more we think about something the more we notice in our lives. This is why you will always hear your name being called in a noisy room or why when you are pregnant, see pregnant people everywhere.

Our brain has a cool filter called the RAS (reticular activating system) that lets in what we are focussed on. So, if you get your kids talking and thinking about kindness by sharing stories, books and examples of kindness, they start to give it a lot more attention and will then start to see more kindness everywhere. Make it a big topic in your house, and it will grow in significance in your child’s life and its presence will be noticed much more.

Make being kind fun.

You can make being kind fun in lots of ways and once your child realises quite how good being kind feels they will want that feeling again and again. Being kind makes you kinder.

So, you could try to encourage your kids to do kind deeds by providing the tools, prompts, encouragement and support they need. Here are some examples. They could…

• Make a thank you card for their sports coach.

• Chalk a be happy message on the path.

• Create a bumper list of all the ways they could be kind to themselves and illustrate it.

• Make some scones for their grandparents.

• Donate their pocket money to a charity they have researched.

• Phone a friend just to see how they are doing.

• Make wildflower seed bombs.

• Play a game their sibling loves.

• Putt banner in their window saying, ‘kind people are my kind of people’.

• Give someone a compliment every day for a week.

Being generous releases Oxytocin in the brain – this is sometimes called the love hormone and it makes us feel connected to each other. Not only that, but your child will get a big hit of mood-boosting dopamine and serotonin when they act kindly, which will make them feel amazing.

The most important of life lessons

Teaching our kids to be kinder is simple; it just requires a little focus and a bit of time and it is worth every drop. Imagine a future filled with the kindest of people taking care of our planet beautifully and treating themselves with love and compassion too.

Probably one of the most important things that we as parents can do is to raise a kind child.

Create your own kindness: Activities to encourage children to be caring and kind
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