I have to be honest and say one of my kids went through a really unkind phase, and I was mortified! It even got to the point that her teacher raised it as an issue, wanting to know what was going on. I’m happy to say that today she’s a different child, but there was a lot of work I had to do to look at what was creating this behaviour and work out how I could help her.
Raising kids is tough. Raising nice kids is even harder. Especially in today’s world, filled with social media and tv shows that don’t exactly have a focus on being kind. We don’t exactly have shows like the Brady Bunch on anymore!
Kids can be bombarded with examples of mean behaviour, and after so much exposure to it, they can begin to think that being disrespectful is the norm. However, they also learn from us, their parents. They watch us, study us and learn from us and so as parents our job is to soften our hearts towards our kids as much as possible. It requires a lot of patience and a lot of practice, but the outcome is so profound that it’s worth the effort. Here are some key areas which I found to be extremely helpful.
5 tips to raise kind kids
Treat them With Kindness
The main change I made was the way I talked to my daughter. Even though I am the adult and she is my child, I often talked to her in a harsh way to get things done quickly. Now I try to talk to her like a mini adult, and the result has been so positive. She responds well and as a result speaks kindly to others.
It sounds so simple, yet in reality this takes a lot of practice. When you think about it, you wouldn’t yell at an adult to hurry up and get ready. You’d remind them that you need to leave and could they please be ready.
When we speak to our children kindly, they in turn learn to treat others kindly. We can raise nice kids by being nice to them. So when you feel you’re losing your cool, take a breath before you talk to your kids and even place a hand on your heart – as a reminder to come from a heart centered place.
I started giving a lot of positive reinforcement to my daughter. If she did something kind I would praise her. Saying, “I love how you helped your brother find his shoes”
Most kids want to make their parents proud; I know my daughter does. So, we now have a BIG emphasis in the house on being kind. The shift for me was focusing on the good that she was doing and letting her know how proud I was of her.
Use kind words
My kids aren’t allowed to say “hate”. “Hate” is a strong word. And it can easily creep in. If you allow your kids to use mean words like “hate”, “stupid”, etc. then before you know it “hating” a food turns into “hating” that girl in class. And a “stupid” object turns into a “stupid” classmate. If I hear it I say ‘we use kind words in this house’.
Instead of saying to them: ‘The most important thing is that you’re happy,’ I now say, ‘The most important thing is that you’re kind.’
Other things I now say are:
‘Let’s be kind to each other’
‘You are so kind Charlie’
‘I’m so happy you shared your toys with that little girl Michelle. That was very kind’.
So being kind is very much our focus now. This includes making sure the kids honour their commitments rather than letting others down. Because that is the ‘kind’ thing to do. For example, when my son wanted to quit Basketball we talked about him finishing the season because he had joined with a friend and that friend relied on him each week for support.
Model Kind Behaviour
Our kids are constantly watching us and assessing how we handle certain situations. They are little sponges! So, it’s our job to be a model being kind to others. There have been times when my daughter would have overheard me complaining about someone or something. Now I’m very careful with that. Our kids see how we handle every situation.
When my kids moved to a new school last year, there were a few kids who went out of their way to make them feel welcome. And I know it was the parents who encouraged this. They encouraged empathy with their children about what it was like to be the new kid. And I think this is something we all need to do regularly with our kids. Encourage them to think of others, not just in our small circle of friends.
I heard of a great game recently which was called “Guess the Feeling.” Basically, you take your kids to a park or a shopping mall and people watch. Find someone showing an extreme emotion – such as excitement, sadness or anger. Ask your child, “What do you think they’re feeling?” and ask them to make up a story about what may be happening.
This is meant to help children identify non-verbal clues as to how others feel and helps them put meaning behind emotions.
Speaking kindly and being kind can be a long journey, however, I really believe nearly every child has the ability to be kind if they are shown the way.
Its important to remember that kid can slip in and out of being unkind… it’s normal. However, because there are so many outside influences that are unkind, when we model kindness, they can often counteract the negative messages that they’re absorbing.
In the dictionary ‘kindness’ is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. If my children end up possessing these qualities, then I know my job is done.
WANT TO KNOW MORE? WATCH BELOW