You can teach your kids important lessons about kindness and compassion.

How to Teach Children to Be Kind and Compassionate

by Kathryn Hatter

A child possessing social skills such as kindness and compassion will have the ability to interact positively with others. Teaching a child to care about how others feel and think helps the youngster place focus away from herself and onto others. The foundation of kindness and compassion begins during childhood. If you nurture and encourage this attitude, your children can learn strong values that will last a lifetime.

Teach your children about emotions they feel, advises the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line. Name feelings when you see them so your kids learn a vocabulary to describe feelings. Describe feelings verbally with your children. For example, you might say to a child “You sound really frustrated right now because you can’t find your book. I can hear it in your voice, and I see your fists clenched.” By teaching your kids about feelings, you lay a foundation for empathy because they can use this knowledge to recognize feelings in others.

Set expectations about treating others kindly and compassionately, advises the American Psychological Association. Communicate simple guidelines with your children, including helping others whenever possible, sharing, speaking kindly, respecting other people’s feelings and ideas and being truthful. When you implement these expectations with your kids, they understand how you want them to behave.

Correct your kids if you notice a lack of kindness or caring toward others. Focus on the behavior -- not your child -- to help him understand where he fell short and what he can do to improve next time. For example, you could say “I think that girl at the library wanted to work a puzzle with you. Would you try harder to be friendly with other kids when they want to play with you?”

Set a compassionate and kind example for your children, advises the Scholastic website. Look for opportunities to display kindness in your daily life. Smile at others, speak in a friendly tone, provide assistance when you can and display an ongoing concern for others’ feelings and problems. For example, you might help an elderly shopper in the parking lot by returning her shopping cart to a cart corral, or you might help an ailing neighbor by shoveling his sidewalk or cooking him a meal. When your kids see you modeling compassion, they will learn from your positive example.

Praise your kids when you notice kind and compassionate actions. Your positive reinforcement of these desirable traits should help motivate your children to repeat similar behavior in the future.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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