Best Way to Teach a Child to be Kind

Human beings have an inborn tendency to be kind to others. You only need to look at very young children to see the evidence. Sometimes when a new baby hears another baby cry, she bursts out crying himself (and psychologists have also proved that she cries more in response to a human cry than to a computer-generated cry). This suggests that babies, even at a very early stage of their development, are sufficiently con­cerned about other people’s distress to become upset themselves.

This inclination to be considerate becomes clearer as the preschool years unfold. By the age of twelve months, an infant no longer cries when she hears someone else cry, but instead will have a troubled look on her face. By the age of fifteen months she will probably go over to a crying child or adult, to offer a comforting cuddle. A typical three-year-old will take pos­itive action to help someone in distress, for example, by giving her crying friend a teddy to cuddle.

Teach Child to be Kind Best Way to Teach a Child to be Kind

So what happens in the years between childhood and adult­hood to transform us into the inconsiderate individuals we see all around us each day? Perhaps this change occurs as parents and schools encourage children to carve a niche for themselves and to compete against each other. Often, success can only be achieved at the expense of others. In such an atmosphere, a child’s innate tendency to show kindness and consideration is gradually pushed into second place in preference to self-interest. It’s almost as though children are taught how not to be caring.

Teaching a child how to be kind to others is just as easy as teaching her how to think only of herself. All you need is a little bit of careful thought, preparation, and self-awareness. Your child models herself on you. That’s why she shares your atti­tudes, behavior, and mannerisms. Stop for a minute, and con­sider your own actions. You can’t expect your child to care for other people if you don’t. This does not mean that you should gush lovingly all the time, but it does mean you should treat people with respect. Your individual acts of consideration will motivate your child to behave in a caring manner toward others.

Aside from scrutinizing your own attitudes and behavior, you can use direct strategies to teach children to be more car­ing. One simple method is based on the elementary principle that children learn to be helpful by being helpful. Practical involvement in helping others increases a child’s tendency to be caring. Your child can be given caring responsibility at home in many different ways. Assigning your child a few daily chores, such as helping to clear the dishes after a snack, or putting away her crayons, gently directs her toward caring behavior. Even though your child may not be eager to do these tasks, she will probably do them willingly, eventually.

Teach Child to be Kind 1 Best Way to Teach a Child to be Kind

Some children are unwilling to become involved with any helping task because they tend to be selfish. Role-play is an effective way to overcome this barrier. a small group of chil­dren, even as young as three years, can create a play in which some of them pretend to need help, while the others pretend to come to their rescue. Then they can reverse the roles. The effect of this type of role-play is more intense when children are encouraged to talk about what happened during the play, and to talk about the feelings they experienced when they played the different roles. Role-play can also be used to help children understand what it is like to experience bullying. This may encourage positive behavior in the playground and in other unsupervised play.

Another useful way to teach kindness and consideration to a young child is to ask the child to explain how to be caring to another child her age or younger. This task of “tutor” benefits both the learner and the tutor, probably because it forces them both to think about the reasoning underlying their actions.

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