As your child ages, it can become more complicated to be a good parent. Your once small, angelic infant becomes an adventurous, fearless toddler. As children grow, they begin to develop their own unique personality, but how do you ensure your child understands the ways they can care for others and why being kind-hearted is so important in life?
Acknowledge Acts of Kindness
If your child does something nice for you or someone else, tell them! Young children may do things without even realising it’s good or bad. Therefore, it’s important to always acknowledge your child when they do something kind (or naughty). Doing this helps your child realise that caring matters, because you are taking the time to address how they are making a positive impact. Once they begin to see themselves as caring, their behaviour will follow suit.
Encourage Your Child to be Adventurous
It’s important for children to explore their surroundings. By encouraging your child to be adventurous, this can help to create a safer environment for your child. Adventurous doesn’t mean letting your child roam free in the neighbourhood at age 4, but it does mean showing them around the neighbourhood, holding their hand and allowing them to investigate the unknown and better understand the lively world around them. A more well-rounded child is more likely to be open and kind to others.
Prioritise Face-to-Face Conversations
It’s hard sometimes to practise this living in a world surrounded by constant technology. However, it’s important to remember that face-to-face conversation and contact is crucial in the development of your child’s personality. Teach your child electronic communication, including isolated use like television, does not take the place of verbal communication. If your child spends time in front of the screen, it doesn’t mean they won’t be kind, but too much screen time can result in negative effects on your child’s emotions and personality. It’s important to practise moderation when it comes to technology and spend as much time as possible interacting with your child face-to-face rather than behind a screen.
Look for ways to have conversations with your child about tolerance and respect for others. Exposing your child to the diversity of the world through a variety of activities such as reading books, eating different cuisines, visiting museums, volunteering or even attending events hosted by different religions or ethnic groups. Do more than just visit. Have a conversation with your child about these activities and be open in your discussion, addressing any questions or concerns they may have.
It’s important to discuss the differences in context to your child’s environment and experiences at school and in the larger community. Celebrating cross-cultural awareness is a key aspect in your child’s development. Without taking the time to appreciate other cultures, your child may not have empathy towards those that are different from them.
Be a Consistent Role Model
It’s important that your child has someone to look up to. Being a role model for your child, answering their questions and highlighting their successes is an important part of teaching your child how to care about others. If they notice how much you love and care for them, it will be easier for them to embody this and treat others with the same compassion.
This also means you should be holding everyone in the family accountable to being kind, including yourself. If you tell your son that his words can have a negative impact on someone’s feelings and then you yell at your partner shortly after, you are sending him a confusing message. It’s important to remain consistent and practise what you preach. If this happens, apologise to your partner and set an example for your son, so if he does the same, he will understand the right thing to do is say sorry.
Talk About Your Feelings
Emotional literacy is all about empathy. A simple way to foster this within children is teaching kids to identify their emotions early on. Using emotional language such as “I see you’re frustrated” or “I understand you’re upset”, can help a child better understand how emotions make them feel. Before children can empathise with other’s emotions, they must first understand how to process their own.
Don’t be afraid to teach emotions as you would teach numbers and colours. Emotions can be nuanced and an emotionally intelligent child will learn to understand this. Encourage your child by asking them questions about the emotional perspectives of others. For instance, you can ask, “How do you think James felt when you pushed him?” or “That hurt mummy when you pulled my hair.” By teaching your child about not only their own emotions, but how their actions can make others feel a certain way, they will better grasp emotional literacy.
At ToBeMe, our leadership team develops lesson plans that specifically tackle the challenges young children experience on a day-to-day basis. Catering to each child’s unique needs, our leadership team of specialised staff are trained to help children better prepare for primary school. We teach children each day the importance of being kind, however, there are easy things you can implement in your daily life as a parent to help set a better example for your child.
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