We all want to have that mega polite kid who does no wrong. Nobody wants to get the phone call from the school saying their child was bullying another. So how can you stop that dreaded phone call from happening?
It all starts with practicing empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.
Think about it. If your child can think about how another person might feel by their actions and understand where their feelings are coming from, wouldn’t they be more likely to make positive decisions?
1The Importance of Teaching Empathy
While many people think empathy is but an acquired trait that you have from birth, there are ways to encourage and build on it within a person. This starts during infancy and goes into adulthood.
It may seem odd trying to picture teaching a newborn how to be empathetic, but this is where you lay the foundation for empathy. Before you can build on a skill, you need a good foundation.
The bare bones of a person’s empathy are learned when they learn how to soothe themselves as infants.
When your young toddler stops playing and gets a concerned look on their face when their playmate is crying, that’s another building block to empathy, as is when they start school and see how their teachers react to when another child gets hurt.
Fostering these building blocks of empathy will help your child grow up to be a kinder human being.
2So, How Can You Do It?
We all know empathy and being kind are essential, but how do you do it? I’ve got some useful tips that we try to implement in our family, but before we get into those you need to know something.
Nobody is perfect. Yes, even Susan from preschool PTA’s kid is an idiot sometimes. You can’t expect your child to be perfect all the time; they are still learning after all. However, using these tips will help put your kids on the right track of life.
3Model the Behavior You Want to See
This is perhaps the most beneficial tip I can give you. For the first few years of your child’s life, you’re going to be their most prominent role model. Sure they may have grandparents and babysitters, but you’re their parent, and they look up to you.
This is something I struggle with and am constantly working on. I like to think I’m a good role model for my daughter, but I know I’m not perfect. Sometimes I yell and get upset over minor things. And even worse, I can see when it affects her. She starts exhibiting those same behaviors, and it creates a vicious cycle of repetition.
If you want your child to exhibit positive behaviors, you have to exhibit those behaviors yourself.
4Set Rules and Be Consistent
Having set family rules help create structure. This structure will, in turn, help your child feel more comfortable in their surroundings.
Being clear about what is right and wrong will also help your child gauge whether a particular behavior is acceptable. But this is only half of the equation. The other half comes with being consistent.
The consistency with your set family rules is what will ultimately teach right from wrong. Think about if you have a “no hitting” rule, but you don’t follow through with any consequences or redirection. How will your child know that hitting isn’t an okay reaction to something?
5Practice Positive Discipline
Positive discipline is something that has gained a lot of traction among parents lately and for good reason. This technique teaches children what is acceptable in a way that is firm, but kind at the same time.
I felt the need to include positive discipline here because it serves as a sort of extension to the last subheading about setting rules and being consistent.
When your child disobeys a family rule, the way you respond to the situation affects them in more ways than you think. While some people think raising their voice will get the point across, others may choose a gentler approach.
The problem with any type of violence, even raising your voice too high, can be counterproductive to the results you want to achieve. It’s essential to take a step back before dealing with the situation and really assess how you think you should proceed.
6Encourage Using Their Words
Kids may also exhibit rude or mean behavior when they forget to use their words. When you’re so young, it’s easy to get caught up in the big emotions you’re feeling for the first time. It’s beneficial to encourage your child to express how they feel before choosing what to do.
7Raising a Kinder Human Being
You’ll notice that these tips tie back into having a good structure in your family values. This is because your child’s learning journey begins at home. By providing them with a positive home environment along with the encouragement to make positive decisions, you’ll set them up to become kinder human beings.
How do you practice kindness at home? Comment below!