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The Power of Kindness

April 13, 2021

As a parent, you want to see your child grow academically, emotionally, and physically. But how do you teach kindness? From the moment our babies reach toddlerhood, it’s important to start teaching them to recognize the needs of others and to have empathy. The lessons they learn at that young age set the stage for their future.

Below are some ways to model kindness and some ideas and activities to practice kindness together.

  1. Teach children to label and understand their emotions, and discuss and affirm them. This will help to lessen frustration and anxiety when they feel strong emotions.
  2. Create opportunities for your children to show interest in other people and recognize how others feel. Ask questions about what people or characters are doing while reading a book, observing others at the playground or park, or watching television with your child. This helps to teach empathy.
  3. Use inclusive language such as “we” and “us.” If empathy is understanding, then compassion is acting on that understanding. Gradually helping your toddler to start thinking about others instead of just “me” and “mine” will help to build compassion. By asking your child to help you do something thoughtful for someone else, they will feel kind and proud.
  4. Inspire their imagination. Pretend play is a great way to practice empathy and compassion. Over time, this type of thinking becomes automatic and so does a child’s response to it.
  5. Let your children see you being kind to yourself. Self-care, getting plenty of rest, seeking out support when needed, and giving yourself grace are invaluable for children to witness.
  6. Encourage kind habits and notice their effects. Model kindness everywhere you go. Help children match the concept of kindness to concrete actions such as sharing, giving, volunteering, including, comforting, and listening.

See Teaching Children About Kindness for more helpful tips.

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