Teaching kids kindness in today’s world takes intentional effort. With all the thoughtless remarks on social media, obscenities yelled at one other over someone’s driving, and snap judgments that are oh-so-common now, parents must be intentional about teaching their children empathy and kindness to others.
In our current culture, it’s evident our children aren’t going to become kind adults and leaders by chance. Maybe it was possible a few decades ago before social media and when “sir” and “ma’am” were commonplace.
But now we, as parents, need to be intentional with our children to raise them to become kind. This includes showing your child kindness as well as giving your child plenty of opportunities to show kindness to others.
The dictionary defines kindness as warm-heartedness, tender-heartedness, goodwill, affectionateness, affection, warmth, gentleness, and tenderness. If you desire any of these traits in your children, then read on.
9 Simple Ways to Instill Kindness in your children
Volunteer with Your Child
Make volunteering such a part of your life that if you stopped, your child would notice.
My children and I used to take sandwiches to a local charity every single week. Then life got in the way and I completely forgot about it. My children noticed. They asked me repeatedly why weren’t serving anymore and when we would start up again.
Yearly, my children and I host an Operation Christmas Child packing party. After five years of hosting this event, I’d decided not to host it last year. It takes a lot of preparation to host such an event in your home. What changed my mind was my daughter telling me this event is her favorite day of the year.
I couldn’t say no if a volunteer activity is my child’s favorite day of the year, so we continue the tradition.
Finding activities to do with younger children to teach them kindness or to volunteer can be hard to find. For inspiration, check out this roundup of ideas from various bloggers.
Have Your Child Care for a Pet
Having a pet that your child has to take care of teaches empathy to your children.
Put your child in charge of your pets food, exercise, grooming (brushing), or whatever is age-appropriate.
These chores allow your child to feel like they are completely responsible for another living being’s survival and happiness.
Model the Behavior
In today’s world, forgetting to put on your turn signal while driving is enough for someone to lose it on you.
Show your child that everyone makes mistakes, whether it’s driving or living life, and we don’t lash out on people.
You truly never know what the person who may have inadvertently offended you may be going through. When you are attacked for no reason in front of your child, discuss out loud the kindness you are giving that person by letting it go.
Apologize when necessary to your child. Let your child see you make mistakes and right your wrongs.
Pray for Others with Your Child
As part of your daily bedtime routine, have a small list of people in your life that need prayer.
Each night pray for these people out loud with your child. When your child is old enough to help lead prayer, make sure they include others as well.
Chances are, your child will learn from your kindness naturally and you won’t even have to prompt them.
Bring Back Manners
How often do you interact with a store employee and feel like you are putting them out by being a customer?
Manners and respect start at home. Teach your children simple things: please, thank you, and looking at others in the eye when they speak.
Everyone is worthy of our kindness.
Sponsor a Child from Another Country
Most kids don’t understand the level of poverty many people must live in.
One of the best ways to teach your child kindness and compassion for others is to sponsor a child from another country.
Try sponsoring one with their same birthdate. Your child is more likely to relate to the child and writing them and reading their letters together has special meaning if it’s your child’s responsibility.
We’ve sponsored children from Food for the Hungry and Compassion International. Compassion International will send you pictures of your child with the things they bought if you sent them a birthday or Christmas gift. This creates a great conversation starter with your children. You will see pictures of some toys but also what food and necessary items the family needs.
Add these children into your nightly prayers and make them part of your family you discuss regularly.
Perform Random Acts of Kindness Together
One year for my 39th birthday, I brought the kids along as we performed 39 acts of kindness. I had one child keep a running list of our kindness activities and the older one helped with the planning.
While the day was full and exhausting, my children now look for future opportunities to perform an act of kindness during everyday life.
Additionally, we celebrate the official RAK week every year. Since it happens in February, we try to think of ways to celebrate in their school.
Watch Movies Together
Watch movies as a family that embraces other people’s differences. Talk with your child about the characters in the movie and how the people felt. Some great movies for this include:
- Pay It Forward
- The Pursuit of Happyness
- Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove
Bake Meals for Others Together
Most kids enjoy cooking. Or at least baking cookies.
Have your children join you next time you know of someone who needs a meal. Your child can prepare the menu or just bake the dessert. Then most importantly, have them deliver the meal with you, if possible.
Once your child sees the connection of the person on the other side who benefits from your caring works, they are more apt to look for future opportunities. If appropriate, discuss with your child why this person needs a meal. This opens their world up to others who are hurting.
Need More Kindness Ideas?
Download this one-page of 80 kindness ideas you can do with your children. Click on the image below to download.
You may also like this series:
Follow along for a 21-day challenge to perform one random act of kindness each day with your children. What a wonderful way to raise a new kind of generation!