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5 Ways to Teach Children Kindness

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Today’s post is all about kindness.

We all want our children to be kind, right?

Yet it’s something we don’t often think about teaching.

We teach our children to read and write; to use the potty and tie their own shoes. Kindness is a learned skill, and I’d argue, an extremely important one!

Here is how we teach our children to be kind.

5 ways to teach children to be kind. #kindness #parenting #kind #teachchildrenkindness #bekind #kindnessactivities #kindnessquotes #kindnessactivitiesforchildren

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Why We Teach Children Kindness

The book On Becoming Childwise has 15 principles, and I am focusing today on Principle #4: Instill morality into a child and his behavior will fall into place.  

Let’s dig right in!

Chapter Four of On Becoming Childwise says “We know you want to instill honesty, empathy, compassion, kindness, gentleness, respect, honor, and self-control in your children.  This is not a wish list from never-never land.  It is a reasonable goal for your children.  But they are not born with these virtues.  They’re cultivated.  It is the duty of the parents to put character into their children and not sit back and hope good character emerges naturally.  It won’t.”

Well then.  That’s a lot of pressure, right?

It makes absolute sense.

We have to teach our children how to hold a spoon and wipe their bottoms (we have only successfully mastered one of these in our household), so OF COURSE, we need to teach them how to be kind.

It is a learned behavior.  So how do we teach it?

How We Teach Children Kindness

We are right in the throes of this with our 3.5-year-old, Theo.  We are focusing so hard on teaching him to be kind (click here to read about how we are handling other issues with our threenager).

There are 5 basic things we are doing in an attempt to teach kindness.  I’ll update when he’s an adult and let you know if it worked! Ha.

1.  Describe Kindness

We point out to Theo when someone does something kind.  Whether it’s a stranger holding a door for us, Theo sharing his toys with his sister, or daddy helping some friends move, we let him know that the action is a kind one, and it makes us feel good.

You can also read books on kindness.  Here are a few really great books on the topic:
Daniel Chooses to Be Kind (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood)
Strictly No Elephants
The Berenstain Bears: Kindness Counts (under $3 on Amazon!)
How Kind!
How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids
The Kindness Quilt

2.  Discuss How we Feel When we do Kind Things

I ask Theo how he feels first because I don’t want to put words in his mouth.

I want him to think, process, and respond on his own.

“Theo, you shared your special Lambie with Margo, and she is laughing and smiling.  How do you feel?”  He will typically grin and respond with “happy!”

3.  Discuss How we Feel When Someone Does Something Kind For Us

I am trying to make the point to Theo that the joy he feels when a neighbor brings him a slice of homemade pizza or his daddy takes him on a special adventure or his sister giving him hugs and kisses is a feeling that he gives to people when he is kind.

4.  Demonstrate Kindness

Not just to your family, but to everyone!  Smile, say please and thank you, hold the door, offer to help your neighbor rake their leaves, etc., etc., etc.

We can’t expect our children to demonstrate acts of kindness if we, the parents, aren’t doing it ourselves.

Some great examples of demonstrating kindness is to do community service together as a family.  Our kids are still a bit young for that, but can’t wait to start in a few years!  If you are in the same situation as we are, don’t worry… small acts of kindness are just as important!

For parents that are working, maybe your children don’t see things you do throughout the day… tell them!

We have learned that when my husband gets home, Theo doesn’t want to tell him about his day.  He wants to run around and play.  My husband wants to hear about our day, so he tells Theo about his day.

He tells him what he had for lunch, if he went for a walk, and recently, he tells us about anything kind he did throughout the day.  Theo in turn, will tell him about his day, bring out his kindess jar (see my next point!) to tell his daddy of the kind things he did.

5.  Reward Kindness

Now before you roll your eyes here and insist that children should be kind just out of principle, hear me out.

I completely agree.

But people are all inherently selfish, and it starts with children.  Of course, a three-year-old doesn’t want to share his dump truck with his baby sister.

He wants to play with it himself.  Of course, I don’t want to clean up the kitchen and let my husband relax.  I do because I know how kindness makes everyone feel, and that is rewarding to me.

Theo earns kindness balls that he can fill his kindness jar with.  Our kindness jar is nothing fancy.  It’s just a large mason jar.

I fully intended to make it look cute, but yeah… I have 3 little kids, so that didn’t happen.  When his jar is full, we get to go get ice cream, which is pretty much the most special treat in the world in Theo’s eyes.

Once he gets ice cream a few times, I might change up the reward, depending on how it’s working.

Does he get a kindness ball every single time he does something nice?  No.  Do we sometimes put an idea in his head of something kind he can do?  Of course.

He’s 3.  My goal is to teach, and I don’t expect results right away.  When he fills up his jar, we dump it out in awe, and I point out to Theo that every ball is for something sweet and nice that he did.  I make a really big deal out of it.

If you have other things you do to help teach your children kindness, I would love to hear them! Please share them in the comments.

Follow me over on Pinterest for more parenting tips!

Babywise Friendly Blogging Network

Check out the rest of the posts by the mamas of the BFBN.  We are all blogging about principles of the Babywise series that don’t include sleep or scheduling.  Lots of great content, so be sure to read them all! Links will go live day of.

5 ways to teach children to be kind. #kindness #parenting #kind #teachchildrenkindness #bekind #kindnessactivities #kindnessquotes #kindnessactivitiesforchildren
5 ways to teach children to be kind. #kindness #parenting #kind #teachchildrenkindness #bekind #kindnessactivities #kindnessquotes #kindnessactivitiesforchildren

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8 Tips to Prepare Your Child for Preschool - Rogers Party of 5

Wednesday 16th of August 2017

[…] 5 Ways to Teach Children Kindness […]


Saturday 22nd of July 2017

Such a wonderful post! Kindness is so important to show and teach our kids!

Caitlin @Rogers Party of 5

Sunday 23rd of July 2017

Thanks for reading, Anna! I completely agree :)


Friday 21st of July 2017

Such a good post! I need to start teach my baby boy how to be kind:)

Caitlin @Rogers Party of 5

Sunday 23rd of July 2017

It's never too early to start teaching kindness! Thanks for reading!

Tayler DiGiacomo

Thursday 20th of July 2017

These are such great ideas!!

Caitlin @Rogers Party of 5

Sunday 23rd of July 2017

Thank you, Tayler!


Thursday 20th of July 2017

Man, talking about kindness is SO important and kids total listen to more than we think!

Caitlin @Rogers Party of 5

Sunday 23rd of July 2017

They TOTALLY listen to everything!

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