Teaching your child to be kind is extremely important. The lives of others, and our own selves can be made better by kindness. It can consequently improve the wellbeing of persons who practice kindness. Children will get a skill that will make them happy and enable them to make the world a nicer place if kindness is encouraged in them.
Promoting kindness starts by being good role models in how we show kindness to each other, ourselves, and how we interact with our environment. Studies show that the simple act of being nice helps kids grow into happier, healthier, and more likable people.
However, it can be challenging to explain and teach kindness to children, especially if they are still very young.
Empathy is a skill that is learned over time, typically beginning around the age of two when children start to comprehend that other people have ideas and feelings that are distinct from their own. At this age, they might try to ease their younger sibling's suffering or console a distressed buddy. However, until kids are 8 or 9 years old, they lack the cognitive abilities to comprehend empathy in its entirety.
For young children who have not yet realized that the world does not revolve around them, egocentrism is entirely normal. Empathy is a work-in-progress concept that needs to be encouraged both at home and at school.
Here are some activities you can do with your child to foster kindness and empathy:
Become role models
Children imitate what they see. If they see their role models being kind to the people and environment around them, they are likely to follow in their footsteps and mimic that kind behavior. This also helps them teach kindness in a better manner. This could be through random or specific acts of kindness.
Teach the practice of gratitude
Help them write a thank you note to a loved toy, their grandparents, siblings, friends or teachers. Teach them the importance of gratitude, because one can only be kind, if they are grateful. You can also encourage them to practice a daily ritual of listing the things that they are grateful for, either in the morning or at night, before bedtime. Teaching gratitude affirmations also works, statements like 'I am thankful for ____ and I will be kind to ____' go a long way in instilling the spirit of empathy.
Sharing is Caring
This one simple quote goes a long way in explaining the concept of sharing and collective living to little ones. You can start by simple steps - making them share their tiffin with their friends at school, helping them water plants at home or encouraging them to share their food with stray animals by feeding them. Complimenting the people around them, and highlighting the random acts of kindness we see everyday around us are also helpful in instilling the spirit of kindness and empathy.
It is important to teach our little ones that a single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees (Amelia Earhart), so that they can spread kindness all around them!