There is a quote I love from Mr Rogers that talks about how, in times of crisis and tragedy, when the news of full of scary stories, we should look for the helpers.
In amongst all the chaos and sadness and fear there will always be helpers. We’ll always find people bravely doing whatever they can to help and to care for others.
I think this is such a great message to send to our children. Firstly for them to know that there will always be more good than bad out there. And secondly for them to learn that they can be the helpers too. They can grow up to be the ones jumping in, helping others, coming from a place of care and kindness.
It’s so important to me that my children are kind people, and if you feel the same way, here are 5 things we can do as parents to teach our children about kindness.
1. Talk about differences
It can feel really awkward when our children ask questions about other people who have disabilities or who simply look different to them. Most of the time though these questions simply come from a genuine sense of curiosity about other people. And they’re a great chance to start a conversation about our differences and our similarities.
Talking to our children about why people use wheelchairs for example can really help them understand the different experiences and challenges other people might face. This then helps them be more empathetic to others, as well as being a chance to talk about how we can be kind and treat everyone with respect.
2. Be kind to the earth
Being kind goes further than doing nice things for other people. We need to teach our children to be kind to the planet too. So talk to them as you sort through the recycling. Explain why you’re doing it and how it benefits the earth.
Look for changes you can make in your own lifestyle to be more eco-conscious and talk these through with your children. Give them reusable water bottles instead of plastic bottles of water when you go out for the day. Wrap their sandwiches in reusable waxed wrap, rather than using cling film. Talk to them about donating their old toys rather than just throwing them out.
3. Read them books about kindness
Find stories that feature the theme of kindness and read them to your children as often as possible.
Books are great ways to spark conversations about different topics and you can use them to help your children learn all about kindness and the different ways we can be kind.
It doesn’t have to just be books either. When you’re watching TV with them look out for story-lines about kindness and point out to your children how great it is when characters do something kind and thoughtful, and how happy it makes them and other people.
4. Do random acts of kindness with them
These can be really small but are a great way to get our children thinking about doing things for other people.
You can let someone go in front of you in the queue at the supermarket. Leave some money taped to a vending machine for the next person to use. Or simply leave notes around reminding people how great they are.
The beauty of these random acts of kindness is that they’re normally done in secret. So we do them with no expectations of thanks or reward. The reward is just that good feeling that comes from doing something nice and kind to brighten someone else’s day.
5. Set a good example
The most important thing we can do as parents, if we want our children to be kind, is to be kind ourselves.
Be kind to your children. Let them see you be kind to your partner and to your parents.
When you’re out walking with your children, smile and say ‘hello’ to people you pass.
Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to the bus driver, the cashier at the supermarket, the person who holds a door open for you.
Bake cakes with your children for the school cake sale and take them with you to buy flowers for your neighbour who’s been unwell.
Children will soak up all these little acts of kindness, compassion and caring and learn to go out into the world and act the same way.
Disclosure: this is a collaborative post