Posted on behalf of Zayaan Schroeder who is a mother to two kids and is passionate about making their childhood memorable and happy. She has been a parenting journalist for 10 years and also runs a parenting blog called Surviving the Madness dedicated to making things easier for moms. You can follow her on Instagram www.instagram.com/survivingmadness
February is known around the world as the month of love. And while there’s a great emphasis on romantic love, for kids it’s a great time to teach them how to love their friends, family and neighbours by being kind.
It can seem like an enormous task to teach this value but remember it’s not something that develops overnight. But here are a few ways to instill this very important trait in your children.
Lead by example
There’s no better way to teach your kids than by showing them how to be kind in your everyday actions. Children tend to be sponges and learn best by what they’re exposed to. So if you show them kindness and they see you performing acts of kindness it will be something that they do naturally as well.
Be kind to yourself
This can be a hard thing to do because we are always our own worst critics. But as established, our kids learn behaviours from us. So if you’re constantly putting yourself down or saying harsh things about your body, your kids pick up on that habit too.
A great way to start the day off is with daily affirmations. In our family we always take some time to say one thing about ourselves and one thing we love about a family member. This way we’re being kind to both ourselves and others.
Make it a family affair
When somebody is sick or sad or just needs help, as adults we know how to help out. And usually we just go ahead and do it and leave the kids out of it. But actively involving your kids when performing these acts of kindness can go a long way in teaching them empathy.
For instance, when someone is sick ask your kids what they think you guys can do to make them feel better or help them out. Taking them a healthy meal when they’re unable to cook, babysitting the kids during the day or doing the afternoon school run are all great ideas. Your kids may come up with other things like doing a drawing or taking them some flowers. It doesn’t matter how big or small the gesture is, the point is to get them to think about helping others.
Teaching good manners
It may seem like an obvious thing to do but teaching your kids to say please and thank you and to greet people is a good way to show kids how much a smile and a wave can make someone feel better. When we walk to school in the mornings, my 3-year-old has a tendency to say hi to everyone who we pass. The way their faces light up, you can see that it brings them a small moment of joy.
Sharing the wealth
We all know sharing is caring, and our kids are told this from the minute they start preschool. But little kids have a hard time with this especially if they’re younger than 3. Toddlers are at the stage where they are the centre of their universe but also we need to teach our kids that they don’t have to share something they’re not done playing with yet.
What I do however like to encourage my kids is to give to the less fortunate. My children are very blessed to have grandparents, aunts, uncles and older cousins who buy them toys. So much so that their toy boxes are overflowing with long forgotten toys that are in very good condition. Their book case is also filled with so many books that they’ve either outgrown or just don’t reach for any more.
Every few months we go through the toy boxes and books and donate the ones that are no longer reached for to give to children who don’t have as much as they do. Not only does it show them that they should be appreciative for what they have but also how helping can make someone else happy.