Raising kind and caring children is a strong focus of The King’s College. As Principal, I have lost count of the number of times I have spoken to students, teachers and parents about my desire to train up kind and compassionate students at our school. For me personally, kindness is one of the most important attributes an individual can possess. There are enough mean, angry people in the world and this College is determined to produce graduates who are the exact opposite. Who are instead good, kind and compassionate citizens who are a blessing to the wider community.
Here are some more ways we can teach our children to be kind.
1. Model kindness yourself. Kindness can be contagious: when we see someone else perform an act of kindness, we are more likely to feel an impulse to help out, too. Research suggests that altruistic children have at least one parent who deliberately communicates altruistic values to their kids. Similarly, when preschoolers have nurturing caregivers who deliberately model helping others, they tend to be more helpful and verbally sympathetic to other children when they hurt themselves.
2. Make kids personally responsible in some way. Four to thirteen year olds who were asked to donate their own pocket money to help support children in hospital, donated more (and were more likely to make a donation) when they felt personally responsible. If individuals feel that their own money, actions or words will make a difference, then they are more likely to take responsibility for a specific act of kindness towards others.
3. Don’t reward helping behaviour. Very young children who receive material rewards for helping others become less likely to help in the future compared with toddlers who only receive verbal praise or receive no reward at all. This research suggests that even the youngest children are intrinsically motivated to be kind, and that extrinsic rewards can undermine this tendency.
4. Be positive. Parents who express positive feelings and use positive, non-coercive discipline raise children who are kinder and more compassionate toward others. The use of fair and reasonable boundaries, as well as the use of encouraging and affirming words is good pratice. Non-coercive yelling and threatening is not.
5. Expose them to need. Too often we protect our kids from pain and suffering, and in so doing we shelter them from others’ needs. Consider the counter-intuitive notion that compassion is a positive emotion strongly correlated with happiness, and provide them with opportunities to feel compassion. Teach kids that this compassion is a gift—it is a way to give their time, attention, and energy to another. Consider the counter-intuitive notion that compassion is a positive emotion strongly correlated with happiness, and provide them with opportunities to feel compassion. Teach kids that this compassion is a gift—it is a way to give their time, attention, and energy to another.
May we continue to work together to raise up kind and compassionate children who will make a difference in this world.
And besides this, using all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity.
2 Peter 1:5-7