How do you encourage your children to be kind and have empathy for those around them?
According to Dana Brumm, Curriculum Specialist for Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in Downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek and on the West Allis/Wauwatosa border, “As parents we make sure our children learn how to read and write – and yet we often assume children will naturally develop skills such as kindness and empathy.”
Brumm says there are some easy things you can do to build empathy and kindness in your children.
Be a Positive Role Model
According Brumm, “Children learn kindness through everyday interactions with their parents.”
“The way you speak to someone when they come to the door or how you respond to your children even when you’re tired is how your children will treat other people. Take time every day to show kindness to your children and those you interact with in front of your children.”
“Thank your children and others for helping you. Show appreciation for good behavior or random acts of kindness. And, recognize when your children or others put forth extra effort,” adds Brumm.
“Offer compliments for little things. When your children hear you spreading kindness, they will start to emulate your behavior. Be sure to praise them for it. If your children forget to say their magic words, gently remind them. Over time, it will become a natural part of their behavior not only toward family members but others as well.”
Practice Perspective Taking
According to Brumm, “To be considerate of others, children must understand how they think and feel. Perspective-taking skills help children make others feel comfortable and interpret their needs. Get your children into the practice of asking, ‘What would that feel like?’ or ‘How would I feel if that happened to me?’ With older children, have them stop and think of how they would like to be treated.”
Model Acts of Kindness
Brumm suggests, that when a new family moves into your neighborhood, you and your children bake them a treat, and then go over as a family to introduce yourselves. This teaches your children how to be good neighbors and kind individuals.
Another great idea is to have your family help someone in your neighborhood who is elderly, injured or handicapped. Many times these individuals need some assistance with lawn care or household projects.
“Taking the time to do a few random acts of kindness with your children goes a long way in leaving a lasting impression about how easy it is to be kind to others,” says Brumm.
Instill Good Manners
In our busy world polite and mannerly interactions with others go a long way. Kindness can start with simply saying “please” and “thank you.” Brumm says, “There are plenty of other ways to help your child practice good manners, and you can never start too soon. Children as young as two can say, ‘hello’ when spoken to.”
Other polite habits to practice:
- Apologizing for negative behavior (“I’m sorry I took your toy.”)
- Waiting your turn to speak
- Shaking hands or saying “good game” after a competitive event
- Using a quiet (“inside”) voice during a play date
- Writing a thank-you card after receiving a gift
Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.
Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers free Parenting Talks and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.
The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, in Oak Creek and in West Allis. The agency’s main office is located at 1138 S. 108 Street, West Allis. For more information, please call 414-643-5070 or visit the agency’s website at www.ebenezerchildcare.com.