A critical part of kindness is putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, an empathetic component. In the lives of children, it’s about asking them to imagine how they would feel in a variety of circumstances. If they were being left out how would they feel? If they were the teacher of a classroom and the students were being rude, how would they feel? If they fell down and the other kids started laughing, how would they feel? These questions will elicit a response that you can discuss with your children.
Let’s use the first question as an example: If they were being left out how would they feel? Chances are pretty likely the answer will be something in the arena of sad or mad. With that information you can launch a discussion about how inclusion and kindness are always the key to happiness for all parties involved. Follow this up by posing the question, “So, if you see a child being left out what can you do?” Let your child lead the discussion and give supportive information as necessary.
As children start to grasp the consequences of their actions or inaction, they will start to see how kindness is always the correct option. They will start to understand what it would feel like to be on the negative end of these situations and how a reaction of kindness can reverse the pattern bringing joy instead of sadness.
Talk to your children about the people in their lives that show them kindness, ask them to come up with a list of kindness givers. It may be eye-opening for them to realize all of the ways that people are kind. Ask your children how each of these acts of kindness impacted their lives.
Through this discussion your children may truly take to heart all the kindness that has been showered on them. They may want to give thanks to those people, and isn’t that wonderful? Encourage that. Also, talk to them about how they too can be on someone else’s list of kindness givers. Let them take the lead and come up with ideas. Let your children, through empathetic reasoning, become the kindness givers they can certainly be.