Raising children into responsible adults is a tall order for parents as there is no known formula that ensures the success in the process of rearing a child. Every home created by parents is meant to provide an environment where a child grows up to be kind, loving, honest, confident, industrious, obedient, and respectful. These are also highly encouraged in Happy Feet Childcare, a preschool in Carlton. All of these plus the other values that parents want to instill in their children can be done only if the parent employs determination, love, patience, and consistency when engaging in the teaching and learning process of imparting the values that will shape the child’s personality and character.
Educating the child on the importance of such values as kindness and helpfulness begins at home where his parents and siblings give the nod of approval when he is seen to be in the right track; and to discipline him in an encouraging and constructive way when he makes a mistake. Good manners are then shaped and strengthened as the child enters kindergarten and goes through his journey to adulthood.
In teaching kindness and empathy to children, the first thing to be taught is the meaning of being kind, where the concept is explained and an example of kindness is shown. When a child witnesses an action in the home where she helps mom to carry something, brings a slipper to an exhausted dad from work, or consoles a crying sibling, these are actions that show kindness.
When the child learns the trait and it has been instilled in them, the nurturing and caring heart teaches them to do something for someone who is in need. They are molded because of empathy, the understanding of what others are going through. In fact, that feeling of empathy pushes someone to do a kind act for someone who is in need of help or to alleviate the suffering of others. These two great words go hand in hand in making a child put into action what his heart and mind desire.
How can we teach empathy and kindness to our kids? The following points can be of help to persevering parents:
Explain the quality of the word kindness and the strong emotional feeling projected when one empathizes with someone. This can be done though stories which are read by the kids or by the parents. Be quick to identify incidents on the story that show empathy and kindness and to explain and discuss the moral lesson of the stories read. Even things that happen in the home where kindness and empathy are shown should be given emphasis and be appreciated during the teaching and learning process. Remember to do this in a way that is suitable to your child’s age.
Anywhere and Everywhere
Make sure to identify the teachable moments wherever the parents and the children are. Be it at home, at a childcare in Carlton, in the park, the beach, the mall, in a restaurant or where actual situations show people doing an act of kindness to someone who is in need. An instance where a person who’s trying to help an injured one is on the verge of tears because he could feel the pain felt by the victim—this is the picture of one who is truly empathizing with the others. True-to-life situations such as this have more impact to the kids when used as a springboard in teaching kindness and empathy.
When your child at preschool sees one of her classmates had forgotten to bring her snack and your child feels worried that her classmate might get hungry—that is a sign of empathy and should be appreciated and encouraged. Kids can also be taught to ask others “How are you?” or “How are you feeling?” to friends and classmates who may be feeling lonely or have just gotten sick. It is a good start in developing understanding and care for others. Parents can introduce their children to charitable activities so that the kids can be exposed to helping others and being empathetic to the needs of the less fortunate ones.
Choosing the Right Words
Teaching our kids to be concerned and gentle in the way they talk to others is vital. Parents can promote respectfulness and empathy by encouraging the kids to be careful with their words and to always think first before they speak so that they won’t hurt others’ feelings. This is very important to highlight especially in early learning. Even in social media, the children should also be educated to ‘think before they click’ so as not to cause unkind and cruel words that may inflict emotional pain towards others.
Acknowledge Acts of Empathy
Be vocal and generous with praises when children show kindness and empathy when they are with their peers, and when they show their love and desire to help to their siblings and other members of the family. Also, giving special acknowledgement to their act of kindness towards their friends and neighbors will make them more confident and develop their self-esteem which will encourage them to do good and practice appropriate acts of kindness to others.
Children who have had encouragement, lessons, and experiences in being kind to others and empathize with the needy grow to become responsible and compassionate adults who can work and live with others harmoniously and respectfully. This only goes to show that teaching kindness and empathy is integral to a child’s development.