It’s never too early to teach your little one how to be kind. It’s a trait that we should all have because kindness goes a long way. Kindness is a means of teaching your child that doing things for others is just as rewarding if not more so than doing things for yourself. If you want your child to grow up to be a kind person, here are some things you can do to instil it in them early on. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Show kindness to others: You are your child’s very first teacher and they will copy everything you do because it’s all they know.  Show kindness to others in their presence by opening doors for people, sharing things that are yours or giving the gift of time and a listening ear. While they might not directly associate your actions as being ‘kind’, they will emulate your behaviours and eventually be able to put a name to these little generous acts once they have a firmer grasp of the concept. 

Show kindness to your child: It’s vital to be kind to your family, friends and wider community, but it’s also essential that you show kindness to your child. Kindness can come in many forms; giving your child your full attention, sympathising with them when they are sick or injured, being present in the moment when you are with them, acknowledging when they are sad and offering them comfort and security. If you create a kind ethos within your family unit, they will pay this kindness forward to those who are closest to them and then more widely as they get older.  

Call it for what it is: If you do something that is kind, tell them that’s why you are motivated to do it- ‘mummy is being kind to the daddy because he has been hard at work’ or ‘daddy is being kind to mummy because she is tired’. The more they hear this word when good deeds happen the more they will start to understand what it means.

Praise your child when they are kind: Your child might do a kind deed without even realising it- sharing their food with a sibling, picking something up for you or giving someone a cuddle when they are sad. If your toddler does something that is kind without your encouragement praise them for thinking of others. This reinforcement will result in the same behaviour in the future so it’s worth making a fuss when they display kindness organically. 

Children are intrinsically kind around animals, so if they tend to show kindness to pets and wild animals more than people, don’t worry, as this is a great starting point. They are still demonstrating their ability to be kind by stroking and walking pets, feeding ducks, putting seed out for the birds, food for hedgehogs and nuts for the squirrels in your garden. Animals are an excellent way to let your toddler explore kindness. 

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Point out kindness in books and TV: If there is a character in one of their books who is being kind or similarly on one of their favourite shows, point it out so they will understand that this is a positive behaviour. Kids learn a lot from what they read and see so it’s important to seize any opportunity you can to showcase good in their world. 

Provide them with opportunities to think outside themselves: Toddlers naturally think about their own needs first, this is a given. When they were babies their every need was tended to and they had to come first because they lacked the independence to do things for themselves. As a child gets older and is more capable of doing things not only for themselves but for others too, this is the optimum time to encourage them to think more widely. So how can you do this? Send items to a food bank and explain who you are doing it for, donate things to a charity shop and tell them why you are doing so, encourage them to give someone a tissue when they are crying or have a cold, ask them to share their toys and food and reinforce why you want them to assist you. 

Reflect on kindness: When you do something kind, tell your toddler how it feels and when they do something kind, ask them what feelings come up for them too. Create a dialogue around kindness and discuss how they think their kind deeds have had an impact on the people they have shown compassion to- ‘I think Nana was very grateful when you gave her one of your treats’ or ‘it made your brother very happy to play with your toys’ or ‘how do you think Grandad felt when you gave him his blanket?’ The more you talk about it, the more commonplace it will be. 

There are small things you can do every day with your toddler to demonstrate kindness and with each and every one, it should make kindness an integral part of their make-up and set them up well for a kindhearted future! 

RELATED: Seven things a doll can teach your toddler 

The humble toy doll can have a number of benefits for your toddler, so whether you have a boy or a girl, a doll is one toy with the potential to teach your little one about the world, here’s why... to read more click HERE 

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