Monday, February 8, 2016

Raising a kind child

Whenever my son doesn't get his way, he declares that my husband and I are being mean to him. Of course he does. In his world "mean" is the best word he has to describe the situation. It is horribly mean of us to ask him to follow the household rules, or for us to squash his fun by taking him on errands, or for us to encourage him to finish his morning tasks so we can get to school on time.

I do not want him to focus on the unfair world, though. I want to help him focus on ways to be kind. But in order to do that, I have to show him more kindness.

Researchers who have been studying kindness have created a list of tips to help parents teach kindness. I like this list, because in order to teach it to your child, you have to participate as well. And if we are all acting with kindness, then we are all winning:
  1. Daily repetition. Sounds almost too easy, but it is true. Children who are able to demonstrate being kind or helpful every day, tend to display more of those behaviors on their own.
  2. Zoom in. Children need to feel like a part of something larger than themselves. I won't let my son watch the news, but I do want him to feel like a part of his community.
  3. Strong role models. That would be us parents. We need to show kind behavior and admit when we make mistakes. Our children need to see us as flawed but loving figures.
  4. Manage destructive feelings. We all get overwhelmed in life. But those of us who go for a walk, learn to release stress or have a creative outlet are modeling better behavior than those who let their feelings out at the dinner table.
What activities do you participate in to teach your child kindness? Tell me in the comments.

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