“Kids will be kids” is something adults say when they see their children being irresponsible, mischievous, or sulking around for a toy. The truth, actually, is that kids will turn out to be exactly how we raise them! We often look out for our child’s happiness – her education, her health, her career. Most parents are so consumed by their child’s academic performance that they tend to overlook the emotional aspect of her development.
You might pat your child on the back when she gets a good grade. But what if she tells you that she shared her food with a friend? Or that she gave away her fancy stationery to someone who wanted to have it? Be honest when you imagine this; your first reaction is probably close to –“Why didn’t you eat it yourself, or do you know how much that fancy pencil costs?” That’s how it starts!
Most parents don’t portray the ‘quality of kindness’ in a positive way. They make it seem unnecessary, which ultimately makes the child feel that there’s no meaning to kindness beyond ‘sorry,’ ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ But you can change that starting today – not tomorrow, not after your baby’s too grown up to understand what it means. Now is the right time to cultivate this quality in your child, because what she’ll learn at a young age will stay with her forever.
9 Ways to Raise Kinder Children
You might think that kindness is not a rewarding quality, but we beg to differ. It is, in fact, the sure route to greater happiness. So if you’re looking for ways to raise a kinder child, here are a few tips:
1. Model Kindness.
You are your child’s first teacher! She is at an age where, by default, she mirrors your actions and behaviour. The things you say or do around her should reflect the values you want her to grow up with. If you wish to raise a kind child, you must bring it out in your words and actions. Whether you’re addressing your domestic help at home or a shopkeeper, be kind and courteous. The more she witnesses your kind behaviour, the more she’ll live up to those values. All you have to do is set an example for her. So choose your words wisely when you’re around your child. Remember this – she’s absorbing everything you say, word for word.
2. Focus on Owning up to Mistakes.
If you want your children to learn from you, then you’ll have to be fair even during hard times. Arguments are natural; they’re a part of a healthy household. But what matters here is how you make up after those silly fights. Your children learn a lot when they’re young, and if they see you owning up to your mistakes and making it up to your spouse, their system will adapt to taking the high road too! Also, you should encourage your child to own up to her mistake each time she makes one because eventually, it will help her stay humble.
3. Be Specific about Praise.
Try this – praise your child only when you’re genuinely impressed by something she did or said. We often appreciate our children to make them feel good, but in the process, we keep rubbing off its essence. Confused? Well, if you keep praising your child for every tiny achievement, then she might not think of it as a big deal. But if you genuinely appreciate her once a while, she will truly experience a sense of achievement. Make her feel like she earned it, and she will do more of it more often. But hey, know this – both overpraising and under praising have their consequences.
4. Talk about Empathy.
Sympathy comes easy; you need not ‘teach’ your child how to sympathise with someone. Empathy is what you must focus on. It’s the basic difference between pitying someone versus respecting someone’s current situation. Teach your child how to be empathetic. Ask questions that will help build your child’s empathy for those who are mistreated. Bring her very close to the reality of the world so that she understands what it is like. If she cribs about something and says something like ‘I can never have anything I want,’ use this reality to show her how lucky she is to have more than what most do!
5. Make Kindness Look Like the Quality of ‘Heroes.’
Every child has a hero – some fictional character that she looks up to. Well, tell her that she too can be one, without superpowers, without breathing fire or fighting bad guys. She can be a hero who is kind and compassionate. Make sure you give her enough examples of people who are kind and often help others. Encourage her to look up to such people and follow their footsteps. Encourage helping behaviour. Don’t stop her when she tells you about something kind that she did or is about to do.
6. Volunteer Together.
There are more than enough organisations that work towards helping the less fortunate. Make sure you volunteer and sign up with one such organisation. Whether it is serving food, working for the environment or cleaning the surroundings, make sure you get your child involved in performing at least one selfless deed. This will give her first-hand experience and also a sense of responsibility. Working with strangers for a common cause will help her witness the true spirit of positivity that comes with helping others.
7. Adopt a Pet.
A study shows that adopting a pet makes children kind and empathetic. Caring for a pet makes a child empathetic and gives her a sense of responsibility. She will take the ownership of looking after the animal, and this will, in turn, make her kind and compassionate. You could get your child anything from a puppy to a chick or even a hamster, as long as it makes her feel responsible. Children who grow up with pets turn out to be happier and more compassionate than those who don’t!
8. Embrace a Positive Attitude.
We’re so busy looking at the bigger picture that we don’t realise positivity, happiness & kindness are closely linked. If you want your child to be grateful, you will have to bring that out in your daily actions, and embracing positivity is just step one! Create a ‘glass-half-full’ atmosphere at home. Encourage your child to stop and look at the sky, appreciate the sound of birds chirping, smell the roses, walk bare-feet on grass, and what not. Through all of this, you can bring your child a step closer to nature, which will teach her how to be grateful for a lot of things in life.
9. Pray More Often.
Praying will make your child humble. She will realise that there are forces out there that are much greater than she can imagine. However, you should not force this on your child, and don’t let her follow it blindly. Guide her during the process. It’s linked to positivity. Praying will help her believe in happy endings. It will help her to be grateful and eventually, bring out the kindness in her heart.
“What this world needs is a new kind of army – the army of the kind.” – Cleveland Amory. When children step up to perform an act of kindness, you might not encourage them solely because people are no longer trustworthy. We fear that our children might get hurt (physically or emotionally), despite their best intentions. But it’s time to change that. Imagine the amount of happiness you experience when a stranger performs an act of kindness towards you. Well, that stranger could be your little girl; spreading joy everywhere she goes.