It’s nice to have kind kids, and as it turns out, kids are naturally pre-programmed to respond to the needs of others. With a little care and encouragement you can bring out that natural empathy that’s within your children.
The University of Berkley, California has taken a look at the issue of kind kids and come up with five good suggestions for how to foster it.
Being altruistic yourself is the best way to raise kind kids. Research has even shown that kindness is catching and most kids who have at least one parent acts kindly will do so themselves.
Engender some responsibilty. Asking kids to care for someone, to donate something or to do some other act of kindess, actually makes them more inclined to do so in a whole-hearted way. By asking them expressly and individually, you get a much better response than making a vague, less-defined request.
There is no need to reward kind behaviour either. This just undermines the natural tendency kids have to be nice. Associating a material reward with an act of kindness breaks the connection to the pure and natural reward. Sometimes we just feel good for doing the right thing, or for considering someone else, and that is reward enough. We need to let our kids experience this.
Keep it positive too, threats and negative remarks about not being kind don’t work and defeat the whole purpose. Kindness is positive, learning it should also be.
Allow them to feel compassion. Our natural instinct is to protect our kids from situations where people need to be shown kindness, but it’s possible to shelter them too much. Within reason, they need to be allowed to confront situations that call for empathy and learn to feel this.
Being pre-programmed to be kind people, kids don’t need to learn this skill as such. With the right actions, it’s possible to bring our their beautiful characters and add a little kindness to this world.