Updated: Jun 14
Kindness does not come naturally to children. It must be diligently taught and modeled. Find out 10 ways you can teach your children to be kind.
This is an excerpt from the book Parenting with Focus by Katie Ely.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” - Ephesians 4:32 (New International Version)
Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It involves empathy and helping others. Children who are kind are better liked and happier than those who have never learned this trait.
Here are some ideas on how to instill kindness in your child’s heart:
#1 - Model kindness in both speech and behavior.
Speak kindly to your children, to your spouse, and to everyone with whom you come in contact. Be friendly, helpful, and considerate. For instance, let someone with fewer items cut in front of you in line. Be friendly to store clerks. Volunteer to help someone.
#2 - Teach your children the old adage: If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.
This is such a simple statement, yet the wisdom of it is profound. Don’t allow your child to speak unkindly to or about others. That includes their siblings, their teachers, and their friends.
#3 - Teach your children to have gracious speech.
One of the best social skills you can teach your children is how to build up and encourage others. Teach them to find something good about the person they are interacting with and comment on it. For example, “I really like your hair. You look so beautiful.”
Colossians 4:6 says, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." (ESV)
#4 - Teach your children to help others.
It is not kind to make someone else do all the work. It's rude and selfish. Teach your children that helping others is the kind thing to do. Begin by having them help you with household chores.
Then, look for ways they can help others outside the family. Take them with you as you help your elderly relatives. Let them help you prepare a casserole for a sick friend. Have them roll the garbage cans back to the house each week for an elderly neighbor. The point is to get your children into a lifetime habit of helping others.
#5 - Teach empathy.
Ask your children questions like “How would you feel if someone was making fun of you? How would you want other people to treat you if you were in a wheelchair?”
#6 - Train your children to be friendly.
The best way, of course, is to model friendliness. Let your children see you be friendly to neighbors, store clerks, and waitresses.
Teach them how to look people in the eye, smile a big smile, and say hello. If they know the name of the person they are speaking to, be sure to have them use their name when they say hello—“Hello, Mrs. Smith!” One strategy for making friendly small talk is to have your child notice one nice quality in the other person, and have your child compliment that quality. For instance, “I really like your earrings.”
#7 - Teach generosity.
In addition to tithing, if you hear of a need, let your children be involved in giving to that need. Let them give using a portion of their own money. Or, have them do a paid chore, and then give the proceeds to the needy cause.
#8 - Place a high importance on how your children treat others.
Do not allow your children to be hateful, selfish, and cruel to others—and that includes their siblings! Also teach them to treat animals with kindness.
#9 - Teach your children how to forgive others.
Explain to them that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Ask “Do you want people to forgive you when you mess up? Then you need to forgive others.” Teach them the verse in Matthew 6:14-15 where Jesus tells us if we want to be forgiven, we must forgive others. And don’t forget to model forgiveness yourself. Be sure to forgive your kids when they disappoint, and ask for forgiveness when you wrong them as well.
#10 - Teach the Golden Rule: Treat others like you would want to be treated.
In Matthew 7:12, Jesus tells us how we ought to treat others. “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” (Matt. 7:12 The Message Bible)
Ask your children how they would like someone else to treat them. Would they want someone to share their toys with them? Would they want someone to be friendly and smile at them? Or, would they want someone to call them a mean name or hurt their feelings? Listen to how your children talk to others, and frequently remind them to think how they would want that person to treat them.
Find out how to instill virtues into your children’s hearts. Read the book Parenting with Focus by Katie Ely. Available in eBook or audiobook.
Want to connect and fellowship with other Christian parents? Host the Christian video series Parenting with Focus. It’s easy to facilitate, and perfect for church classes or small home groups.