I want our kids to be thoughtful… to others and to themselves, so I use these 10 ways to teach our kids to be thoughtful of other’s feelings.
1. Be an example. You must be an example of kindness if you want your kids to be kind to others. My parents were always kind to others. They still are (and everyone tells me this). I have tried to be the same way.
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One day when I way lying down with our son at night, he said “Mom, when you helped that man with the cane get out of his car yesterday, Daddy told us to look at you and watch how you helped others because he wants us to be like you.” You could have just stopped my heart right there – how sweet and great to know that they are watching your kindness even when you don’t know.
2- Don’t talk about others (gossip) in front of your kids! SERIOUSLY! They are listening. They are taking it all in like a sponge. They will soon start to do the same. In my line of work, I see this all too often.
3- Say hello to strangers. This one will drive my husband up the wall, but I can’t help myself. I say hello to random people and even strike up conversations with the people in line with me at the grocery store. My mom and grandma did this and I always loved to see how it put a smile on the other person’s face. I feel like we have the power to make ANYONE feel special at any time of the day!
4- Be “all there” with your family. Read that book for the 10th time this week, make blueberry muffins because you know that your son loves them and give them a hug out of the blue. Soon you will see them doing things like this for one another. You have to be present in mind, spirit & heart… not just body.
5- Tell them stories about times when you helped someone else. Kids love to hear things like this, so try tobe a great example, even when they aren’t watching.
6- Teach a man to fish. Have you heard that quote about “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day? If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime?”
My brother told me this once when I was in high school and I have not forgotten it. (Now… I think that he said it when I asked him to hook up my computer and I wanted him to just do it for me instead of teaching me, but I learned the lesson, nonetheless). I try to give them a lot of opportunities to help one another…. “Can you show your brother the cool bug that you found? Can you help your sister walk up the stairs?”
7- LOOK at your child! Let your child know that you see them and hear them. Let them know when you are proud of them. People love words of affirmation.
8. Help them understand WHY we do what we do. I tell our kids why I volunteer and how it helps others. Give them opportunities to volunteer with you.
9. Reward kindness. I use a kindness reward system in our house and it has been AMAZING. The kids are always trying to be nice to earn their cotton balls.
10. TEACH THROUGH EXAMPLE. When you are kind to your children, they are kind to others. Children model what they see. Be kind to them and they will be kind to others. Talk to them. Sing to them. Hold them. Snuggle with them… tell them nice things and give them opportunities to say nice things to you, too. At dinner, let each child say two nice things about everyone at the table. Our kids smile so big when someone says something nice to them.