World Kindness Day focuses on the importance of being kind to yourself, to those in your community and around the world. This day, celebrated around the world on November 13th, encourages everyone to understand the power of compassion for others and with this understanding, we all have the power to grow relationships and break down barriers between cultures.
We can see that Kindness and compassion are therefore essential values to teach your child. If you want to show your child that kindness matters, and that it can help make the world a happier, better place, here are five suggestions to raise your child’s and your family’s kindness quotient:
Read a good book together
Reading books helps your child to see a situation from another person’s perspective, which is a part of your child’s journey to learn empathy. Your child will experience unfamiliar places, new ideas and new worlds. Read stories in which characters are kind, courageous and think of others. Here are some examples to start.
Stop asking “How was school today?”
As parents it is a daily ritual to ask your child “How was school today?”. Instead, as “What did you do today that was kind?”, or Can you describe a kind thing someone did for you today”. This will probably give you far more insight as to what happened at school than asking how was school today and can also result in some interesting conversations that will enable you to reinforce the value you place on kindness, compassion, and empathy.
Acknowledge when your child says or does something kind.
When you see your child doing or saying something kind for you, or others, make sure that you acknowledge them for this. To be the most helpful with this acknowledgement, you should state the specific behavior that you thought was kind. For example: “It was very kind of you to hold the door open for your teacher.” This both reinforces the value of kindness and associates this with specific actions they performed.
Gratitude, or being thankful is a key ingredient in kindness. Not only does the development of gratitude promote positivity, but it also focuses your attention on what others have done for you, and what you do for others and so trains us to be kinder.
An excellent way to practice this as a family is to help a family journal. At the weekend, invite family members to make an entry in the journal. The focus should be on people and experiences and events rather than things. Depending on the age of your child, this could be a picture, writing, pasting a photo. Every couple of months as a family you can take a Gratitude adventure. Review the gratitude entries from the last few months.
Perform random acts of kindness together
Look for opportunities to perform random acts of kindness as a family. You can search for lists of random acts of kindness – such as this one.
Randomly select between five and 10 of these and post them on your refrigerator door. When your family has completed all of the tasks, you can call bingo and celebrate with a small reward. This could be a family movie night, or a favorite family dessert. Remember the focus must remain on the intrinsic reward that you have made someone’s day by being kind to them.
Kindness is one of the most important values to teach your child. It is best nurtured experientially. Use some of the ideas above to provide opportunities for your child to demonstrate kindness through their actions. Over time you will see the benefits of putting these suggestions into practice.