As a parent, you have the most influence in fostering your child’s ability to empathise and care for others. And there are many ways to teach your child to treat others with kindness beyond the rudimentary “please” and “thank yous”. Here are some ways you can raise a kind, compassionate and loving child.
Make Kindness Your Top Priority
As parents, we tend to prioritise our children’s happiness and achievements over their behaviour towards others. While there’s nothing wrong with caring for our kids and wanting the best for them,it’s crucial that we teach them how to balance their needs with the needs of others. From standing up for a classmate that’s being bullied to addressing others politely and respectfully even when they are tired or angry, they need to know that you care for and take note of these little acts of kindness.
- Emphasise kindness when you interact with other key adults in your children’s lives. For example, ask about how your little ones interact with other kids and teachers during the parent-teacher conference even before asking about their grades and co-curricular performance.
- Be clear about what’s acceptable and what’s not. If your kids can’t seem to treat others nicely, let them know that there will be consequences like no television for the day or no teddy for the night and follow through if the bad behaviour ensues.
- Show positive reinforcement when your child goes out of the way to be kind. For example, you can say: “You’re such a good big brother” or “You’re a thoughtful friend” to show that you approve of their behaviour.
Be A Good Role Model
Kids learn ethical values from observing the actions of adults they respect. So be mindful of your behaviour around the little ones as they develop habits, both good and bad, quickly at such an impressionable age.
- Apologise if you’ve been short-tempered with your child. While it may be hard to admit to your mistakes, you’re setting a good example by showing humility in dealing with the situation. They’ll come to learn that they, too, should admit to their mistakes when they are in the wrong, no matter what the situation.
- Do not trash talk your siblings, colleagues or parents in front of your kids, even if you’ve had a hard day. If they catch you speaking negatively about ‘Felicia from work’, they’ll think that they can talk that way about others as well.
- Teach them values by asking them to pitch in when you are discussing ethical problems. For example, “Chris, my colleague and I don’t really get along but she has fallen ill. Should I do something to help her? What can I do to help her?”
- Respect what your kids have to say and listen attentively to their perspectives to demonstrate how to engage and think about others in conversations.
- Make community service a monthly or weekly family event!
Books and Media
Children need to develop concern for people with different religions and people of different races and ethnicities, especially in our globalising world. Discuss the actions of people on the news as well as the actions of characters in movies, television shows and books with the little ones. Be sure to highlight the good and bad impacts of caring and uncaring acts to evoke a sense of responsibility for his/her own actions.