How to Raise Kind and Caring Kids
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You’re so used to hearing it now you don’t even notice anymore. “It’s mine!” “I want…” or “I need…” Kids by their very nature are mostly concerned with their own feelings rather than the feelings of others. Traits like kindness and empathy, which are needed to have happy and healthy relationships in childhood and beyond, are learned from watching others, particularly you, the parent.
Here are some ways you can model positive relationships for your children.
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Assume They’re Always Listening
Your children may not seem like they’re paying attention, but whether it’s conscious or not, they are picking up behaviors, tones, phrases and social cues at home. Try to always speak respectfully to your children and your spouse to show them how they should treat others. Be polite to the people you encounter like waitresses or grocery clerks. Saying “please” and “thank you” to those around you will encourage your child to do the same.
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Don’t Just Make It About Them
Sometimes you feel more like a valet than a parent. You feed them, dress them, ask them, “is this okay?” and “how are you feeling?” While your child’s needs are important, there should be a balance. Remind your children that other people’s feelings matter and should always be considered. Ask them how they think their actions make others feel. If they’re getting themselves a snack, ask them if they think their sibling might be hungry too. Directing them to think of others even in small ways can have a great effect.
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Expand Their Horizons
Children understandably have a hard time grasping the “bigger picture.” Thinking about people outside their immediate circle doesn’t come naturally but should be encouraged. Ask how they can help ease their new classmate’s transition or how they can stand up for someone who’s being bullied. Consider making charity work or community events a family activity so that your kids can see how their kindness can directly help others. Foster a curiosity for other cultures and encourage them to care about global issues. This will teach them not just care for the people they know, but also the people they don’t.
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Remind Them of What’s Really Important
It’s natural for you to want your children to get good grades, win awards or excel at a hobby. Those achievements should be encouraged but keep in mind that being kind-hearted should also be considered a pillar of success. Let your child know that you care just as much about good character as you do about good grades. When you witness your child do a something nice or stand up for someone, tell them you noticed and that it made you proud. By letting your kids know how important kindness, compassion and respect are to you, they’ll be sure to make those traits a priority in their lives too.