11 Tips for Teaching Kindness to Kids


The article “11 Tips for Teaching Kindness to Kids” discusses the importance of teaching kindness to children and provides practical strategies to foster kindness in everyday life. Kindness is not only beneficial for others but also plays a crucial role in children’s social and emotional development. Being kind promotes empathy, compassion, and positive relationships, which ultimately contribute to their overall health and happiness. However, children may struggle with understanding the impact of their actions and may exhibit selfish behavior at times. Therefore, parents and caregivers must actively teach and model kindness to help children cultivate this essential virtue. The article presents eleven tips, including modeling kindness, reading books, playing dress-up, and fostering habits of kindness, to guide parents in teaching kindness to their children effectively. By doing so, parents can contribute to their child’s well-being, self-esteem, and positive relationships, thus nurturing them into kind and compassionate individuals.

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What Is Kindness for Kids?

Kindness is one of the most powerful and useful social-emotional skills we possess. It is ingrained in us to want to exist harmoniously in groups for our safety and sense of connection, so we instinctively want to be kind. When we are kind, our brain rewards us by releasing feel-good chemicals, often referred to as the “helper’s high.” This motivates us to continue acting kindly in the future because we want to experience that positive feeling again. Our brain is looking after our best interests by encouraging kindness and compassion because they help us make and maintain strong relationships. Kindness helps us cement our spot in a social group, ensuring that others will look out for us and keep us socially connected.

Teaching kindness to kids can be focused on three areas: kind thoughts, kind emotions, and kind behaviors. Kind thoughts involve understanding how one’s behaviors or kindness can impact others and thinking about or considering others with compassion and empathy. Kind emotions include feelings such as sympathy, respect, guilt when they have done something wrong, or pride when they have acted kindly. Kind behaviors are the actual implementation of kind thoughts and emotions, such as sharing, cooperating, listening, and being inclusive.

It’s important to recognize that children may have a slightly selfish mindset at times due to their developmental stage. While they naturally desire to be kind, they may have difficulty fully understanding its impact or considering the feelings of others. Children typically reach a stage of genuine empathy or the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and understand their emotions during middle childhood. Therefore, it is crucial to actively and intentionally teach children how to be kind.

Why Kindness Is Important

Teaching children how to practice kindness is critical for their health and well-being. Being kind has several direct benefits. It facilitates social interactions, making relationships easier and stronger. When children are kind, their peer connectedness and acceptance improve. Kindness is also associated with self-esteem. Children who engage in acts of kindness for the sake of doing them feel good about themselves and experience an improved sense of well-being and interconnectedness with others. The brain’s release of feel-good hormones/chemicals during acts of kindness contributes to reducing stress levels, combating heart disease, helping cope with pain, and promoting feelings of calm and happiness.

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11 Tips for Teaching Kindness to Kids

  1. Model Kindness: Children learn by observing, so it is important for parents to model kindness in their everyday lives. Being kind to others in the community and within the family sets an example for children to follow.

  2. Receive Kindness: When children experience kindness firsthand, it leaves a lasting impression. By receiving kindness, children understand how it feels to be on the receiving end and are more likely to pass it on.

  3. Remember That Language Is Important: The language we use and teach our children plays a crucial role in promoting kindness. It is essential to avoid hurtful language, stereotypes, and discriminatory sayings. Teaching manners and using polite words like “please” and “thank you” also contribute to kindness.

  4. Read: Reading books that expose children to different people’s lives and experiences helps cultivate empathy. It allows children to learn about diversity and understand perspectives outside their own.

  5. Play Dress-Up: Playing dress-up allows children to step into different roles and practice empathy. Providing costumes related to empathetic professions or roles can further encourage kindness and caring for others.

  6. Learn About Emotions: Helping children understand and name their emotions, as well as recognizing emotions in others, enhances their ability to empathize. Playing games that involve matching or guessing emotions can aid in emotional literacy.

  7. Teach Them Empathy: Attuning to children’s needs and responding with kindness demonstrates empathy. Sharing thoughts and narrating empathetic observations can help children understand how others may feel in certain situations.

  8. Use Emotional Regulation Strategies: Teaching children how to manage their own emotions is important for promoting kindness. Strategies such as mindfulness, meditation, and journaling can help children regulate their emotions and be kinder to others.

  9. Expand Their Circle of Concern: Exposing children to different life circumstances and experiences helps broaden their understanding and empathy. Volunteering and learning about different holidays, religions, and historical events can help children consider other people’s experiences outside their immediate circle.

  10. Foster Kind Habits: Making acts of kindness a regular part of life can cultivate a kindness habit. Engaging children in activities such as donating old clothes or putting together care packages helps them practice kindness regularly.

  11. Praise: Rather than relying solely on external praise, encourage children to reflect on their own kind acts and how it made them and others feel. This fosters intrinsic motivation and helps children develop a sense of self-confidence and satisfaction.

By actively teaching and encouraging kindness in children, parents can help their children become compassionate individuals who experience positive well-being, healthy relationships, and overall happiness.

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