WANT TO ENCOURAGE MORE KINDNESS AND EMPATHY IN YOUR KIDS?
There are many simple daily activities you can do to help develop and grow these very important qualities in children. Here are just a few you can focus on to start:
#1: Model how you want your child to behave
Children are ALWAYS watching...whether we want them to or not. Do you want your kids to copy you?
If we go out of our way to help others and show kindness, then it is likely that our kids will, too!
We can show kindness and empathy to them and to other people.
Young children are like little sponges and soak up what happens around them all the time. They will remember the times that they did something to really upset us, but we took a deep breath and showed them grace. This is an example that they will eternalize and copy in the future to us and others.
You know when you hold the door for them and others, or make a donation - they are watching!
Trust me, in our preschool, the children are constantly copying each other and us teachers. Of course, you can't control everything your child sees/hears, but you can model good behavior for them as much as possible.
It can feel like a lot of pressure sometimes, but just do your best! See #3 below if this makes you feel stressed out.
#2: Think about the type of words used in your home 🏡
Sticks and stones may break bones, but words CAN really hurt, too...
Sometimes, words can hurt more than spanking.
Many parents don’t spank or hit their kids, but may be just as hurtful with their words and not realize it. They may do it because it works- it can make kids change their behavior. But behavior change that comes from hurt – physical or emotional – isn’t long-term effective behavior change.
As parents, we have to use kind words, even when we are frustrated and angry. We all need to try to yell less, or hopefully don’t yell at all (I know you are human, don't worry!).
Instead of getting angry, label behavior. Just call it exactly what it is. Don't label the child for goodness sake, but label the behavior. Even better, reframe it! Focus on what you DO want your child to do, instead of what you want them NOT to do.
Children often hear what we say, but seem to miss the "don't" or the "no" part of the statement. By only saying what we DO want, this will get rid of that possibility. For example, "hands are for helping," or "we use a quiet voice inside."
With practice, most parents get much better at giving consequences without yelling or anger. If there’s hitting, you can remind them to use gentle hands, and send the child somewhere calm to think about it. Older kids often can write an note or apology letter reflecting on their behavior while they are thinking about what happened.
Sometimes you can give out extra chores, make kids do chores for someone they have offended, or use natural consequences (ie: if you ruined something, you need to help fix it). Allowing a child to help more lets him/her realize they can be a positive part of the family, too!
#3: Talk about feelings and choices
Sometimes, we will make a choice that we are not entirely proud of. That's ok - but it's also important that we discuss what happened, and how we will handle it.
This is another form of modeling. We can let our children know that we are human, and sometimes make mistakes. We can also let them know that we will do our best to fix it when we realize we didn't make the best choice.
Show them how you apologize and/or make it right. Then, when they make a mistake, help them do the same thing.
This will show them that we can always try our very best, but if we make a mistake, we then figure out what we can do to make it better.
Talking children through these normal little life lessons will help them learn to process life in a healthy way. They can learn that it's ok to have feelings and to make mistakes, instead of holding it all inside until they have a complete meltdown.
Also, once again, it shows that we care about their feelings which models for them to care about other peoples' feelings, too!
#4: Make plans together to do kind things for others
There are so many beautiful things even small children can participate in to help other people, the Earth, or animals.
Watch for fun community service activities and also look for small opportunities to help each day.
Maybe you are at the playground, and you notice some trash on the ground. You can work together to get it cleaned up to where it should be.
You could do a lemonade stand fundraiser for a local animal shelter, or make cards for a nursing home.
Something as simple as making little bird feeders for colder weather, or leaving out nesting supplies, can even be a really easy and fun way you can work together to be kind! Just think about all those happy, singing birds.
#5: Find books and songs that focus on being kind
Since children are little sponges, you want to help them focus on being kind as much as you can!
There are so many wonderful books and songs with amazing examples of ways to be kind and empathetic.
The more your children read and sing about ways to be nice, the more their brains will focus on that. In our preschool, we often read books about kindness, and love listening to happy songs of gratitude, empathy, and joy.
I bet you can find many of these types of books at your local library! And, luckily, it is easy to find great songs with the push of a few buttons.
Just remember: children will do more of what we focus on with them. Do, discuss, and model more of what you want from them, and less of that which you want them to stop.
Be the example you want your kids to be!! ❤️🌈❤️
If you are looking for a preschool that focuses on developing the whole child, be sure to send us a note or give us a call at 916-705-9175 and learn more about our preschool program in Folsom, CA.
We also offer many great resources for preschoolers all around California and the United States right here through our website!
Keep on loving your little ones!! xoxo Jennifer
kindness and empathy videos: