How To Teach Your Kids To Be Kind

Parents can teach kindness by being kind themselves

I had lunch with a friend last week and we talked about how kindness and thoughtfulness seem to have gone out of fashion.

Do you ever stop to ask the postman how they are? Or compliment your neighbour on the beautiful window box they’re cultivating outside their house?

When was the last time your phoned your mum for a chat – a proper catch up rather than to make arrangements or ask for something?

Too many conversations in our lives are simply a means to an end but it shouldn’t be like this.

At the beginning of the last Children’s Mental Health Week, the Duchess of Cambridge said that kindness and respect are every bit as important as academic results and I have to say I agree with her.

Yes, our lives are overwhelmingly busy but we still need to make time to offer simple gestures of kindness. Our children mimic our behaviour – we need to pass on good values or the world will be a sorry place.

Perhaps we should follow the lead taken by Jo Cox, the Labour MP, before she died.

“Start a conversation, with a neighbour you know is on their own; pick up the phone to your gran; visit the friend you keep saying you should meet up with; make time for people.” 

Jo’s grandfather was a postman and as a child she would sometimes go with him on his rounds and one thing that struck her as she watched him chat to the many people he saw on a daily basis was that these interactions may well have been the only conversation that person has with another person all day.

She was determined to do something about it.

A couple of weeks ago MPs launched Jo Cox’s ‘Commission on Loneliness’ which will look for practical solutions to reduce the impact of loneliness.

In this digitised age where it’s easy to get our sense of self worth from “likes” and “followers” we forget how good it feels to sit down and chat, really chat, or natter for ages on the phone.

Mums are generally quite good at chatting to each other, we do it a lot because there are plenty of opportunities for socialising at playgroups and school gates but motherhood can still be a lonely place – so we need to look out for each other.

But we also need to extend our kindness and thoughtfulness beyond motherhood.

Today, make the time to start a conversation, to connect with someone you might not normally talk to.

It could make the world of difference to them and it will make you feel good at the same time.

Go on, I dare you!

97% of parents say teaching greater kindness and empathy from a young age could help to tackle bullying in school

 

A new poll, from leading online parenting resource Families Online www.familiesonline.co.uk, has revealed that 97% of parents believe that teaching kindness and empathy to children from a very early age could help to tackle the evolving battle against bullying in school. According to the NSPCC, there were more than 25,700 Childline counselling sessions with children about bullying last year* and the rise of cyber-bullying via social media has also found that young people are twice as likely to be bullied on Facebook than any other social networking site.

Instilling ‘kindness genes’ is really all about parents teaching empathy and generosity of spirit from a very young age.  But could demonstrating and encouraging acts of kindness from birth actually reduce the likelihood of a child becoming a bully in the future?

Mother of two and Marketing Director at Families Online Faye Mingo, thinks so: “Teaching kindness enhances positivity and helps children feel good about themselves. Acts of kindness can help children to form human connections with others, which are reported to be a stronger factor in increasing happiness.  Although such acts are unlikely to stamp out bullying altogether, they are certainly a positive place to start.”

The survey also looked at building children’s self-esteem which is also very often associated with bullying issues, with 76% of parents saying the best way to build self-esteem is to embrace differences and to encourage your child to be confident in their own skin.

In line with National Random Acts of Kindness Day that was celebrated on 17 February 2017, Families Online issued some top tips to help create some of the good feelings that we experience when being kind. These feelings are produced by endorphins that activate areas of the brain that are associated with pleasure, social connection and trust. Feelings of joyfulness are proven to be contagious, encouraging kinder behaviours by the giver and recipient.

Top 10 simple acts of kindness to try:

  1. Give away old toys (no longer played with) to younger children or charity
  2. Feed some birds or ducks
  3. Hold the door open for someone
  4. Leave happy notes or pictures around the home/town
  5. Donate outgrown clothes to charity or others
  6. Tell someone why they are special to you
  7. Make a homemade gift and surprise them with it
  8. Bake cakes for a neighbour
  9. Leave flowers on somebody’s doorstep
  10. Smile at everybody even if you don’t know them, it’s contagious!

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