Children can be naturally altruistic and cooperative, but it takes loving guidance from parents in order to cultivate a culture of kindness that will last throughout their lifetime.
While your child might be focused on their immediate surroundings, and developmental milestones like potty training, they will still have the ability to lend a small helping hand here and there. They might also be able to recognize when a playmate is sad and offer them a gesture of sympathy as well, but the practice of kindness for the greater good is something that must be taught.
Kindness During Early Childhood: Why Is It Important?
As a parent, you can help your child foster feelings of empathy and help them become a socially responsible and kind person. While this might seem like a monumental task, you can get a head start by practicing kindness in early learning.
Kindness is one of the key ingredients that support enhanced positivity and helps your child feel good about themselves. On top of that, it increases serotonin levels which help to stabilize their mood and lead to feelings of happiness. Proper levels of this hormone have positive effects on learning, memory, mood, sleep, health, and digestion.
Top Ways to Practice Kindness with Young Children
The best way to encourage kindness is by modeling acts of kindness and celebrating every moment of kindness that your child is involved in. Try out a few of these simple tips to nudge your child in the right direction and make kindness a lifelong habit.
Children always mirror their parents’ actions, so make sure you involve your children when you do something nice for friends, family or the community. When someone needs help or gets sick, bring your child along to deliver a casserole. You can even ask your children to get involved in the process by asking them what they want to do to help out.
They will see how acts of kindness can brighten someone else’s day and how good that feels. After the experience, you can encourage them to speak about the last time someone was kind to them and how it made them feel.
Sharing is Caring
Encourage your children to think about ways they can share what they have with others. For example, when your garden is in full bloom, encourage your child to snip some flowers and take them to their friends or teachers.
If your toy box is overflowing with toys, suggest to your child to donate a box to the local family shelter so that they can cheer up other children.
Respect the Earth
Teach your child how to love and respect Mother Nature and foster care for their environment. If you accidentally drop something, make it a point to pick it up and throw it away or put it back into place.
Help them develop a relationship with the nature found in their backyard! This sets them up with a great foundation for more complex ideas later on in life.
Not only can your child help in little ways around the house, but you can also promote a sense of responsibility and grow trust by assigning them tasks. These are chores that they should do not for a reward, but because they are a member of the family and it is good to contribute.
Show them where you keep the dog food or how to clear the dinner table. One way to motivate them is to keep track of their accomplishments by using a chart and help them instill a sense of pride in doing their fair share.
Not only is kindness towards others important, but teaching self-love is too. Have your child think about the ways they are kind to others and show them that we can show ourselves the same kindness.
You can model this behavior by taking care of yourself, eating well, and speaking to yourself in a kind way. If things don’t go as planned or you make a mistake, then verbalize that you are still worthy of love and acceptance.
Be Careful with Criticism
Sure, you want your child to learn how to do things properly, but too much criticism can cause your child to become discouraged. Be sure to give them advice in a more positive manner, and try not to take over tasks even if they are struggling.
This will build confidence in your child the next time they tackle the same tasks and it will help teach them solid life skills. It will also instill a sense that they can make a difference in the world which results in being less fearful of doing things on their own.
Practicing kindness can be a process, but over time your child will master this complex skill set by doing one act of kindness at a time. Slowly but surely, your child will become more aware of how their actions can affect others and help to make acting out of kindness a reflex rather than a passing thought.
How Early Learning Centers Foster Kindness
At Vivvi, we strive to create an environment that not only fosters learning and growth but reinforces healthy habits over time. Vivvi’s inquiry-based Learning Model helps children to engage in early learning by building a curriculum around their interests. We believe this emphasis on their best traits and interests builds their confidence and helps them develop a lifelong love of learning.