Two young girls hugging

Simple Ways to Teach Your Children to be Kind

Emotional intelligence doesn’t come naturally to all children. And as a parent, it is your job to help teach your children to be kind so they can get along well with others.

Since some children can miss the non-verbal cues that they are upsetting others, it’s important to help develop empathy and kindness in children starting at a young age.

Here’s a look at simple ways to teach your child kindness so they can enjoy happy and healthy relationships with others throughout their lives.

Be a Good Example

Since parents are the primary role models for their kids, teaching your child how to treat others starts at home. So. In order to teach your child how to be kind to others, you need to set a good example.

In order to set a good example, avoid the following negative behaviours:

  • Making fun of strangers
  • Talking badly about friends and relatives when they aren’t around
  • Treating your spouse, kids, and pets in a degrading way

Instead, show everyone respect, kindness, empathy, and compassion, so your kids can learn these positive behaviours from you.

Teach Them Respect

You can help your child be respectful of others by teaching them manners, praising positive behaviour, and not allowing them to be rude at home.

Here are some ways to teach children how to respect others:

If You Can’t Say Something Nice…

We’ve all heard it before, but it warrants repeating since it is an excellent lesson to teach kids. If they don’t have anything nice to say about someone, then they shouldn’t say anything at all.

This lesson can help kids get into the habit of thinking before speaking and only saying positive things to others—kind words that help others feel good instead of mean words that make others feel sad.

For example, you can teach your child to offer encouragement and praise for a peer who isn’t very good at sports.

Or, if your child’s friend asks, “Do you like my drawing?” you can teach your child to only point out the positive things, such as, “I like the colours you used,” and not mention what they don’t like about the drawing.

Kind Words and Smiles

Your kids can get into the habit of being friendly by smiling and finding nice things to say to others. Examples of daily kind words include telling people to have a nice day, complimenting someone for their hard work, and thanking a waiter who served them.

Thank You, Please, and More

Teaching good manners is an important part of raising your child to be kind. So teach them all the good manners, such as speaking politely to others—e.g., saying please and thank you—properly greeting people, and being respectful of others.

Help Them Manage Negative Feelings

When a child experiences negative feelings, such as anger, shame, or envy, these negative feelings can overwhelm their ability to care for others. While their feelings are normal, kids need help learning to control their emotions in a productive way.

You can teach your child to calm down by asking them to stop, take a deep breath through their nose, exhale through their mouth, and count to five.

Practice this coping mechanism when they are calm, so when they are upset, you can remind them about these steps and easily guide them. And they’ll eventually start to calm down on their own and express their feelings in an appropriate way.

Emphasize How Their Behaviour Affects People around Them

Without shaming them, point out when your child’s behaviour is affecting those around them. Explain how their behaviour affects others.

For example, “When you said that, you made her sad.” Or, “When you took that toy without asking, you made him feel mad. You wouldn’t like it if he did that to you.”

Teach Them the Joys of Helping Others

You can teach your child that it feels good to help others without expecting anything in return, and that small acts of kindness go a long way in making others feel better.

Help others, including friends, family, and strangers. And find opportunities for you and your family to help others, such as volunteering, donating to a toy drive, or putting together a meal or a holiday hamper for a family in need and bringing your kids along to deliver it.

Examples of small acts of kindness include:

  • Holding the door open for others
  • Helping someone when their hands are full
  • Letting another car pass you in traffic

Practice Caring and Gratitude

Teach your kids empathy and kindness by practicing caring and gratitude. Kids need to practice caring for others as well as showing appreciation for those who care for them.

Learning to be caring requires daily repetition, such as helping out around the house, in the classroom, or helping a friend with a task or homework. The same repetition applies to showing gratitude—expressing thanks to those who help and contribute to the family and the community in both small and large ways.

Examples of how you and your child can practice caring and gratitude include:

  • Prioritize caring for others by taking notice of others in need and reaching out to help.
  • Give thanks to those who help you out.
  • Dole out compliments and greet others kindly.
  • Cheer up friends and strangers with hugs and asking how they’re doing.
  • Go above and beyond to help out someone in need.

Don’t Criticize Their Efforts

When your kids are helping out, especially around the house, their efforts likely won’t be perfect. But it’s crucial that you remain patient with them and don’t criticize them whether they’re doing it wrong, making a mess, or being too slow.

If you criticize your child’s efforts, they will feel useless and not want to help out again.

Let Them Grow

Give your kids plenty of opportunities to grow and develop kind habits, such as asking them to help out a younger sibling with walking up the stairs or going down a slide.

When they are given these opportunities to develop and practice kind behaviours, they’ll be more likely to continue these acts of kindness without being asked.

Kindness Activities for Kids

Here are just a few of the many kindness activities you can do with your kids:

  • Say “Good morning” to the first person you see.
  • Compliment the first three people you talk to.
  • Pick up litter in the park for 10 minutes.
  • Write a thank-you letter to a friend, teacher, or neighbour.
  • Positive talking—ask your kid to tell you one good thing in their life every day.
  • Have your kids say positive things about others.

Teaching children to be kind is one of the best gifts you can teach them. Kindness is an important universal human trait that requires learning and practice.

So, help your child become the best person they can be by teaching them kindness and empathy. Their emotional intelligence will stick with them into their adult lives and help them make the world a better place.