As my son was watering the plants, which is the first thing my toddler twins love to do every morning, he noticed a few holes on the leaves of the hibiscus plant and quickly ran to his twin sister saying that the plant has been hurt (speaking amongst themselves in ‘Baby language’).He came up to me with a sad face to say that the plant must be in pain and he asked me to apply medicine. It was then I realized children have an inborn capacity for compassion.
With so much of unhealthy competition and chaos in the world today, it seems important to me to raise kids who can understand and be kind to other people. It’s part of day-to-day life: how you answer your child’s questions, how you solve conflict amongst them, how you nurture his or her growing capacity to understand and think about other people. Some kids are naturally more tuned in to other people’s feelings and difficulties, some aren’t. Either way, you have influence in fostering your child’s ability to empathize.
In this blog, I would like to share with you some suggestions to encourage young children to demonstrate kind and caring behaviour in their day to day lives.
Practise the two strong words-‘Please and Thank you’
The first baby sign language words that we could probably teach our children are “please” and “thank you.” Encourage your children to say a thank you to the server once he has served food at the restaurant. Motivate the children to say please whenever they have a request or need that has to be fulfilled.
Encourage waving and smiling
Sometimes a smile and a wave can make a difference in a not so good day. Encourage children to smile at people around us – could be the servant maid, or at your neighbour. Showing a friendly face to others is a small but impactful way to be kind.
Once the kids are back home, have a nice discussion with them and ask ‘Who did you see being kind today and what did they do?’ This gets us all talking about doing nice things for other people. When children recognize other children being kind, they are more likely to be kind as well.
Model Kindness – Be the example
This is absolutely essential. If we, the parents, aren’t demonstrating kindness in difficult situations how can we expect our children to do the same? No matter what we teach our kids, it will rarely be as strong as the example that you show them each day in your own actions. If you speak kindly about others in your home and have patience in difficult situations, you will see your child mimic the same behavior and words in their own actions.