This week LaunchPad Counseling was quoted on Cafemom.com in an article called 5 Ways to Raise Kind Kids. The reporter contacted me a few days before the blog article came out, and asked for suggestions for parents. I gave her a list of about five things, of which she used two in her article. So, I thought I would share all five suggestions for raising kind kids here.
Kindness is often talked about as something that is going extinct, something rare. Not often do parents mention it as a top priority in their childrearing. Being respectful, smart, or good morals… those are more common. Most parents want their children to “become someone” and be happy. Of course, all these goals are important. But the fact that people are interested in raising kind children motivates me in a special way. Increasing a child’s empathy is one of my main goals in working with children on a daily basis.
If you want your children to be kind adults one day, here are a few things you can do now:
To Raise Kind Kids: Lead by Example
Your children will learn what you teach them, but they will most likely follow your example. This will especially come true when they are adults. We all have moments where we realize, “Gosh, I’m my mom.” Your child sees and hears everything. This includes how you yell at drivers in traffic, how you express yourself when you are mad, and what you do when your neighbors need help.
To Raise Kind Kids: Practice mindfulness
Stopping and taking time to smell the roses allows your brain to get out of defense mode. When you take time to recharge, your brain (literally) turns down the threat detector. Consequently, you are able to see the beauty in life. You see other people in a better light – and treat them with a renewed sense of kindness.
To Raise Kind Kids: Don’t “make” your child apologize
When you see that your child is being unkind to someone else, don’t pull the “tell her you’re sorry” card out right away. Move down to your child’s eye level and discuss with them how the other person may have been hurt by your child’s behavior. Then problem-solve around how your child could help them feel better. Maybe this involves an apology, or maybe you decide that your child will share their toy. Kindness comes from the heart, not from social rules.
To Raise Kind Kids: Discuss other’s points of view
Your child may come home one day talking about how someone in their class is “so stupid.” Bringing attention to why that other child may have done what they did, or said what they said, may allow your child to learn that there are many ways to look at an issue. You can do this anytime you are discussing differing points of view. There are plenty of chances throughout the day!
To Raise Kind Kids: Be kind to your child
I can’t imagine that a parent would deny doing this. However, it deserves a closer look. Do you treat your child respectfully when they misbehave? Children have a way of getting on their parents’ last nerves. Are you able to keep yourself in check, or do you let them “have it?” A good friend that’s a phone call (or text) away can be helpful when a venting session is in order.
If you feel that your child is struggling to process the effects of divorce — or if you need support in helping your child — consider enlisting a Play Therapist. LaunchPad is a counseling practice in Richmond, VA, that helps children use their inner resources to overcome stressful circumstances. Contact us to find out more or schedule an appointment online today.