My Nana had a favourite saying: “It’s nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.”
Kindness is a very underrated personality trait. Many parents would rather their kids were strong, smart or hard-working. Yet being kind is important because not only does it help other people, but it can make you feel better about yourself.
A Canadian study has found that children who regularly carry out simple acts of kindness towards others have a greater sense of wellbeing and self-esteem. Encouraging children to be kind to those around them may reduce the incidence of bullying.
We are all born with the capacity to act kindly towards others, although some of us are naturally more caring than others. But we may lose some of our compassionate spirit as we age, due to our environment and the experiences we have in life. If we all made kindness a priority, the world would be a much nicer and happier place.
Encouraging your kids to be kind can have wide-reaching consequences, both for them and the people with whom they come into contact.
How to raise kind kids
• Make being kind a rule in your house. Let the kids know that it’s something you expect them to stick to all the time – even if others have been less than kind to them.
• Be a good role model. You can’t expect your children to be thoughtful human beings if you’re not. And don’t just talk about being kind – demonstrate it to them.
• Celebrate kindness. When your children do something nice for someone else, show your appreciation and praise them for their good deed.
• Talk about kindness. At dinner time, discuss what they did today that was kind. Did they see other people being kind? Let them watch those YouTube videos of people all over the world doing thoughtful things for others and discuss how it makes them feel.
• Practice being kind. Get them to make a point of doing random acts of kindness every day – even if it is just telling someone they look nice or holding a door open for strangers. If your kids struggle with being thoughtful, try role-playing different scenarios and show them how to behave kindly in situations in which they might find themselves.
• Talk about how other people have feelings just like them, and try to get your children to realise how their actions impact on other people. Role-playing can also help here.