In a world where hatred runs rampant, it can be more difficult to inculcate compassion and kindness in your children. It is important for children to learn to understand and be considerate of others’ feelings. While this may come naturally, children are also influenced by their peers and environment. With the lack of role models in public, parents will have to take more responsibility in developing children’s empathy.
Here are a few ways and tips on how to raise kind, compassionate children:
Be your children’s main role model
As the first people that children interact with, parents have the opportunity to set an example of how appropriate social behaviour looks like. Treat your children as well as other people with respect and kindness, and your children shall follow, mimic and emulate this. “Children learn kindness and compassion from us,” said Dr. Tovah Klein, director at the Barnard Center for Toddler Development. “If you’re kind to the store clerk, if you’re kind to the people in the restaurant, service people, in New York the doorman, whoever the people are who help us, your child learns this is how you treat people.”
Reject negative actions
Being kind and compassionate to children doesn’t mean letting them get away with rudeness and mean attitudes. When your children are misbehaving – for example, calling their sibling names or hitting others – give them a gentle but firm reminder that their behaviour is not okay. You can do this by talking to them in private or by giving them consequences for not being nice, such as time-out or other forms of punishment.
Assign children to help since young age
The habit of helping others starts at home. Let your children be a part of the team to help out in chores, be it preparing the table, washing the dishes, or cleaning up the car. However, avoid giving them reward for helping out – a study found out that giving extrinsic rewards can undermine children’s tendency to help others.
Expose children to others’ perspectives
Let them learn how to see things from other people’s shoes. This could be done by reading books to children with various characters, or by taking them out of the comfort zones of home and school to volunteer for orphanages and soup kitchens. Through this, children can learn that life is not the same for everyone, and there is a need to consider others’ life experience and points of view.