Teaching kids kindness in today’s world takes an extra 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.
9 Simple Ways to Teach Kids Kindness
Volunteer with Your Child
Find volunteer activities to do with your child. Not just occasionally, but make it 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. Recently my children asked if we could start up again.
Yearly, my children and I host an Operation Christmas Child packing party. Last year, I simply wasn’t feeling it. 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. That I couldn’t turn down.
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), etc. This allows 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.
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 and when your child is old enough to help lead prayer, make sure they include others as well. Chances are, 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 starts at home. Teach your children the simple things: please, thank you, and looking at others in the eye when they speak. Everyone is worthy of that at the very least.
Sponsor a Child from Another Country
Most kids don’t understand the level of poverty many people must live in. The best way to get your kids involved is to sponsor a child 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 responsiblity.
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.
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.
And while the day was 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 them 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.