Why Should We Teach Kids About Kindness?

The answer to this question seems pretty obvious. But read on to see why kindness is so important to teach kids.

By Momentous Institute | Aug 05, 2015
Why Should We Teach Kids About Kindness

Of all the “Why Should We Teach Kids About ___?” posts we’ve done on the blog so far, this one seems the most obvious. Why should we teach kids about kindness? Because, obviously, we want to raise kind children. We want children who head out into the world and care about others.
 
Once kids can regulate their emotions, understand themselves, and understand others, they can move on to a deeper level of social emotional skill-building. Do you remember the Momentous Institute model for Social Emotional Health that we introduced awhile back on this blog? We’re now entering that final step of the model – Integrated Influencer.
 
Integrated Influencers are those people we see in the world making a difference for the greater good. People who are aware of those around them, who think about other people’s perspective, who do kind and charitable acts, and who desire to make a difference.
 
When we make an intentional effort to teach children about kindness, we are raising these integrated influencers. So now the question is, how do we teach children about kindness? Of course, we have to start with ourselves. Are we making our best effort to be kind, even when it’s difficult? Are we emphasizing and calling attention to the kindness that we receive? Are we praising our children when we notice them doing something kind?
 
We’ve got several ideas for how to encourage kindness in children, which we’ll be sharing here on the blog. Here’s one easy way to start. Look at this blog post from Michelle Kinder about the “three little words”. In it, she says, “When we encourage and expand on certain characteristics, we are showing them that we value that part of their identity.” The same idea works for kindness. Try using language like:
 
“I noticed that you reached down and picked up your friend’s pencil when he dropped it. That was kind of you to be aware of what he needed and take care of it like that.”
 
“When I was on the phone and your sister banged her knee, I saw the way you comforted her. It was just like how I’ve comforted youbefore when you’ve been hurt. You’ve really figured out the power of kindness when someone is hurting. Thank you for being kind and helping her.”
 
When we call attention to these acts, we are helping kids self-identify as kind, thoughtful and caring. And guess what? It works! When kids see themselves as kind, they’re more likely to choose kind behavior that reinforces their self-image.
 
So even though the answer to the question seems obvious – why should we teach kids about kindness? – We have to put in the effort to build it up in kids. The reward is most definitely worth it.

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