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It is SO important to teach your young kids about kindness… on a daily basis! Over anything else, I want our kids to be kind… kind to others and kind to themselves.
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.
One day when I was 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- Talk to random people.
This one will drive my husband C-R-A-Z-Y when I do this and it drives my dad crazy when my mom does this, but we talk to random strangers like they are our friends. My grandma did this- she would compliment a total stranger or strike up a conversation with the lady in the grocery store line beside her.
I loved this about here. I love this about my mom and I love it about myself… because I feel like I have the power to make ANYONE feel special at any time of the day! Yes- I will walk up to you to tell you that I love your hairstyle or that I think your daughter’s boots are adorable. It’s just my way of letting you know that I care.
3- Love your family.
Be there for your family and love them. Scratch your child’s back (for the 100th time that day). Make them blueberry muffins when they ask you (I say this one because I just made them for our son as a surprise for his breakfast… he will be so excited!) Hug them at any time of the day… and soon you will see them doing this, too.
4- Read them books about being kind.
I love this book because it really shows the complete willingness to give fully of yourself to someone else.
5- Give them opportunities to grow.
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 help Allie walk up the stairs to go down the slide? You are always such a sweet brother.”
Every child wants their parents to NOTICE when they do things that are nice. They want their parents to be proud of them! I am a grown woman with my own family and still love to hear things like this from my parents, as does my husband, so I can be sure that our four children love to hear it from us, too.
7. Explain things
When I tell our kids that “Gi (my mom) will meet us at the church because she has to run dinner into the church office,” It needs to be said, “because a family is sick and she is cooking them dinner to help.”
When I tell the kids that “I have to stop at Uncle Tim’s house to pick up your cousins”, I need to remember to say “because Aunt Jill and Uncle Tim have to work late today and we are going to help them out.” I want them to understand WHY we do the things that we do.
Trust me when I say that with four kids, a part-time job, this blog, and a very busy life… I rarely have ‘free time’. I can say, with 100% accuracy, that I have not sat down during the day to watch one of my shows on TV in over two years. I do this at night with my husband, but not during the day. I am always busy.
However… I take the time to go into one of our kids’ classroom every week to volunteer. I help friends when they need a babysitter or need help with something. I make meals for friends that have sick children (or are sick themselves). I do these things because I know that it is helping someone else. It is not always about “Us”… we need to make it about “Them”. I want to help them.
I want to make life easier for them and God gave me the ability to do so. I am healthy and active, so I should be helping others.
The other night, I was tucking our son into bed and he said “Mom? You always help other people even when they don’t help back. I think it’s because you just like to make other people happy.” I’m glad that he sees that, as a child, so he can know that I went out of my way to help others, even when there was not an external reward involved.
9. Fill up their cotton balls.
I use a kindness cotton ball reward system in our house and it has been AMAZING. The kids are always trying to be nice to earn their cotton balls.
10. BE KIND TO YOUR KIDS!
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…
Oh- and bonus #11… don’t talk about others 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.
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