“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
Of all the hopes and dreams that we may have for our children—that they grow up to be happy, successful, and self sufficient, that they dream big, do good work in the world, and stay true to themselves—perhaps most important of all is that we hope they are kind.
To instill a spirit of kindness in our children, we must model kindness and take advantage of teachable moments related to kindness, making kindness a high priority. Here are eight ways parents can inspire their children.
Be Kind to Them
“Kindness is the sunshine in which virtue grows.”
—Robert Green Ingersoll
It doesn’t take long in the parenting journey before one learns that children will do what you do, not necessarily what you say. A powerful yet simple way to teach kindness to your children is to be kind to them.
This can include showing your appreciation when they help, apologizing to them when you make a mistake, caring for and helping them, surprising them, respecting them, and speaking to them in a positive way.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
—Will Durant, inspired by Aristotle
Simply focusing on kindness as a priority for your family will help condition your children to hold kindness as an important part of their character. Sprinkle its importance into conversations, and remind them to be kind as they go off to school, off to a play date, and so on.
Notice Kindness in Others
“How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it.”
Keeping your radar sharp for kindness in others, noticing it and appreciating it when you find it and teaching your children to do the same, can reinforce its importance—and make life more enjoyable.
Put Others First
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.”
—Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Obviously, a large piece of kindness is letting selfishness go and thinking of others. As parents, there are countless opportunities to model and teach this concept to children.
Talk About How Words and Actions Affect Others
“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
Children (and adults) can underestimate the impact of what they do and say to others. Helping children remember that their words and actions affect others can help reinforce the importance of kindness.
Turn Unkindness Into Lessons
“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
When children encounter unkindness from others, they face an opportunity to learn from it. They can be guided to recognize how they feel and aim not to cause others to feel that way. They can be encouraged to consider what may lead someone else to behave that way and have compassion for them. These acts can reinforce their understanding of the importance of kindness.
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
Fostering a sense of gratitude and a sense of abundance in children fills them up with the capacity to express great kindness to others. Notice the little things, the blessings, that we can be thankful for.
Teach and Model Good Manners
“Teaching kids good manners is teaching them about kindness, consideration, and respect.”
The habit of good manners can take a while for children to adopt, but once enshrined, it is a good way to act out the larger ideas of consideration, compassion, and selflessness.