Teaching Kindness :: 3 Rules for Raising Kind Kids

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teaching-kindness

My daughter transitioned to the 3 year old room at daycare all by herself. It just worked out that way with her birthday. The group of kids that were already in the room had been together for 4 months. At three, kids start to make friends and play together instead of next to each other. It’s a fun age to parent for this reason. Unless your child becomes the victim of mean girls.

When she moved into the new classroom, her outlook on daycare completely changed. She didn’t want to go, she complained that no one wanted to play with her and that the kids were mean. As any concerned parent would do, I asked the teacher how she was doing. Was she kind to the other children? Was she stealing toys or hitting? And that’s when the teacher explained that there was a “clique”, and they were trying to handle it.

I was shocked. I could not believe that it would start at this young age. Exclusion. Mean remarks. Purposely hurting another child. I was shocked, until I witnessed it at drop off one day. My spirited and outgoing little girl told another little girl how pretty she looked and that she liked her dress. The little girl was standing next to her mom, hanging up her coat. The little girl rolled her eyes, made a face, and walked away. The mom laughed at her as if her behavior was funny.

It was then that I realized the problem was not the school, but the girls in the clique. No matter how the school handled any given situation, the children were not being taught kindness at home.

Now almost four and half, my daughter still talks about the “mean girls.” I use it as a lesson each time she brings it up. How did it make you feel? What could they have done differently? Have you ever tried to exclude someone? Have you ever teased someone that was different? It was a lesson I took to heart as a mom. I need to do whatever I can to raise kind children that do not turn into mean girls. Here’s my plan.

 

Model Kindness

Kids only know what they see and are taught. If, as parents, we are excluding people, gossiping, and name calling, our children will follow suit. No one is perfect, but being mindful of our behavior sets a positive example for the people we hope our children become.

Correct Unkind Behavior

Immediate action to correct unkind behavior shows our children that it is important. A simple statement like “That wasn’t a kind way to behave. Can you try again please?” allows your child to make a better choice. In the event my child turned her nose up at a compliment, I would grab her hand so she could not walk away. I would ask her, did you hear her tell you she liked your dress? What do you say? Then wait for the thank you. I could then model an appropriate response. “And you look so cute today too!”

Practice Kindness

We have strict kindness rules in our house. If behavior is unkind, like hitting, stealing toys or name calling, we implement the 3 part apology. Say sorry. Say why you are sorry. Ask for forgiveness. Example. I’m sorry for stealing your toy. That was not kind. Will you forgive me? The simple act of saying what you did wrong and putting it in the other person’s hands to forgive is impactful. It is also a huge step for a child to say, I forgive you. It brings closure to the situation and lets everyone move on.

No one is perfect. No mom or child is kind 100% of the time. But I feel like if I can keep these 3 things in mind, my kids will be kind most of the time. And when they’re not, they’ll hear my voice in their head tell them, “That wasn’t a kind way to behave. Can you try again please?”