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Monday, August 20, 2007

Encouraging Kindness and Compassion in our children

We know that children are born with an inborn capacity for compassion. They tend to their toys and pets with loving care. Whenever I should get even a small bum or hurt, my youngest son is the first to run to me and ask me "Are you OK mum." and give me a hug. However, as they grow older, due to peers, TV or even wrong upbringing they tend to hurt cats and dogs, bully younger kids and so forth. As a parent it is best that we encourage kindness and a sense of responsibility to others from young.

Show the child how to be gentle.
Preschooler and toddlers wouldn't know how to be gentle with their baby brother, sister or cousins etc. We can demonstrate how they should gently stroke the baby and explain that the baby is very frail as compared to him or her and that she will cry out in pain if handled roughly. Hugging your child and kissing him better will teach him how to behave when his baby brother is crying or when his friends and cousins are hurt.

Speak Softly.
By using a soft, warm and caring tone of voice whenever the child is hurt or in pain we demonstrate how the child should treat others.

Saying Sorry.
All parents are short-tempered at sometime or other. So if you have made a mistake be sure to apologise so that he'll learn that even mum can make mistakes and know that he should also apologise if he does something wrong.

Reject Rudeness.
Your child should be made aware of what action is rude from young. If he spit into someones face, or beats someones, snatches toys from sibling etc, explain what he has done is wrong and rude. Don't be harsh with him, always use a kind and loving tone and yet a no nonsense manner. After my son started to attended Kinder garden classes, he started using words such as "Stupid and Idiot". He was just parroting what he had heard from his classmates. I sat with him and explained gently that using those are wrong and that he was being rude. He was very surprised and now is very concerned whenever he uses a word he is not too sure. He generally checks with me what it means etc.

Provide structure by setting firm limits on behavior.
Make unacceptable behavior, like hitting always unacceptable, even if it is your child's birthday. If something is wrong, it has to be wrong at all times without exceptions. It is when limits to behavior are not provided that children get very self-centered.

Teach your child to provide a helping hand.
When our neighbours went away on a short holiday, we took care of their hamsters and helped to water the plants. Get your child to be involved in helping others. My kids took turn in watering the plant, changing the sand and feeding the hamsters.

Make good manners a part of your child's daily routine.
Encourage your child to greet the neighbours, hold the lift doors for others etc. When I bring my kids shopping or to the food court I will ask one of them to pay for the shopping or food and remind them that they should be polite and say "Thanks" to the cashier or others who help them.

Outlaw name calling.
Compassion starts with what's acceptable and what's not. Often when kids quarrel, they will usually name call each other. Explain that being kind to others is the rule and that even if you don't like someone (having a tiff with someone), you do have to be nice to them.

Give consequences for wrong actions.
If the be-nice rule is broken, stick with simple, concrete consequences such as a brief time-out or losing a special toy for a day.

Label kindness.
When you see your child offer her toy to her friend, label her action by saying "What a good friend you are," or "You're very thoughtful." Overtime she'll understand that being helpful is something very valuable.

Be considerate yourself.
While it is tempting to hand out birthday - party invitations at the park instead of going to the trouble of mailing them, explain to your child that kids who see other children getting invitations but don't receive one themselves may feel hurt. All through the year, get her in the habit of sending cards to friends and relatives who could use a kind word: Thank-you notes, sympathy cards, get-well wishes. If your child cannot write messages yet, get her to draw pictures to decorate the card and then help her to write the message.

Don't trash talk.
Kids are always listening and are keen observers. How we talk on a daily basis about our relatives and friends tells them a lot. So keep meanness in check and show that you have a spirit of kindness and generosity.

The Poor and the Needy.
Explain about those who are poor and needy, those affected by famines, floods, hurricanes etc, and how he can help. Tell him that there are many ways to help these people. He could contribute from his piggy bank, donate his old toys and clothes or donate his time (this is especially good for older children) by helping in the old folks homes etc.

Use stories.
Reading books together can be a natural way to help your child start to understand that children aren't all the same. Books like Faith the cow by Susan Bame Hoover, about how the gift of a cow can change the life of a poor family, or any of the many Aseop's fables to explain morals etc, can show our children that there are those who are less fortunate then them.

Point out heroes.
Explain about fire fighters, rescue workers, doctors and volunteers and what they do to help the community.

Explore feelings.
Talking about book, movie or cartoon will help your child understand emotion. For eg, Ask your child why does she think the witch was jealous of Snow white? So that she can learn that people react in certain manners because of their feelings.

Monitor Media.
If the characters on television are hitting each other or calling each other names, shut off the TV, or at least, talk about what's going on. Children don't just watch TV, they internalize it, and don't get irony, so be careful of what they're memorizing.

Set high standards.
When it comes to your child's responsibility to be caring and compassionate, expect more by setting high standards. Don't let teasing or bullying be unaddressed.

These are some to the ways that we as parents can influence our children to be kind and compassionate.

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Anonymous Party Supplies World said...

I like what you say. I also encourage my children to avoid rude children and find friends that are also compassionate. Let's face it, some parents don't care how their child acts and have no control over their behavior. I'm quick to remind my children, not to get upset when someone act belligerently towards them, and to move on and surround themselves with friends who are conscientious.

September 14, 2009 at 9:24 PM  

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