Our homes are the first place where children learn about language and love. Many people don’t realise that what we like and dislike are taught to us from a young age. It’s important to establish a kind environment at home and use kind words when speaking to them from birth so that they are able to present themselves in a positive way as they grow up. Here are some pointers you can keep in mind to ensure that your kids learn how to be kind!
- Remember that kindness is more important than winning
It’s important for children to know that failure is fine. It’s common for parents to project what we want onto our children and spur them in the right direction, but when we instil in them that victory in the school’s soccer game or top results are the most important thing, negative behaviour might take over because they forget about being kind in pursuit of these unrealistic goals. Emphasise that character and kindness are far more important than these ‘wins’.
- Taking a deep breath before instructing your kids
It’s important to take a breath and assess both you and your kid’s emotions first. Anger and punishing them strictly may control their behaviour in the short run, however it may affect your child’s self-esteem in the long run. Harsh language may in fact cause them to build defences that will shape their personality in a negative way.
- Remind them of kind behaviour and appreciate it when they show kindness
More often than not, we assume that as parents, gratitude from our children is a given. When your child is appreciative of your actions and behaving kindly, thank them too to let them know that they are on the right track. If they forget to show kindness, playfully nudge them in right direction and ask them if they forgot something, to draw forth kind behaviour.
- Restrict exposure to negativity in the media
Besides mass shootings, our children are also easily exposed to too much sexual innuendos/graphic content on the television and digital media. Provocative or dangerous footage even in a movie trailer may inject the possibility of negative behaviour because they are exposed to them at an early age. While we cannot control everything our children see, try to limit their exposure to negative content and encourage them to watch more positive content. This spurs their ‘kindness muscle’ to grow, which includes beneficial brain effects like the increase of serotonin and dopamine – chemicals in our brain that enhance positive moods and motivation.
- Apologise when you need to
Parenting can be a very confusing, taxing and messy ride, and there are definitely times when we as parents mess up. So when you do slip up, make sure to own it and apologise for it. By taking responsibility for your mistakes, you build trust and a stronger bond between you and your child.
- Remind your child to look outward instead of inward
In this day and age, children have smart phones from a young age and start to get obsessed with the selfie culture. Even for ourselves, we forget about what is going around us and focus on what is on our screens. Make sure you remind your children and yourselves to detach from what’s on our screens and look around us. Offer help to anyone who might need it and model acts of kindness so that your child can learn from it. Studies have shown that the more we connect to others, the happier we are. So take the time to detach from yourself, and connect with others around you, while encouraging your kids to exercise their ‘kindness muscle’ too.