Children watch us all the time, even when we don’t think they are. And even more than watching, they’re studying us; they’re learning how to navigate life. We are teaching them ‘how to adult’ from their earliest moments. And long before they consciously decide on an action, they copy us, picking up on subtle cues from how we walk and talk, to how we live.
Here’s how we can lead by example with five simple ways we can teach our children to be kind.
The next time you stop by to visit and help an aging family member or neighbor, bring your kids along for the ride. Even if they aren’t able to physically assist you, they’ll learn by watching. They’ll discover appropriate ways to interact with those they care about, especially elders.
Children pick up on how fulfilling it can be to help others. Explore a variety of volunteer opportunities here in Knoxville that might appeal to you and your child. You can also consider donating time at your child’s school – they are in need of helping hands when it comes to after-school programs.
Not only do children mimic our actions, but they also mimic our speech patterns. In our time-pressed lives, we’re all guilty of being short in our explanations. “Don’t touch the stove,” “Stop running inside,” or “Quit shouting.”
Before you realize it, you’ll hear your words coming out of your little one’s mouths. And that can be very sobering. Instead, aim to provide an explanation that evokes empathy, such as, “Be careful of the hot stove. If you touch it, you’ll burn your fingers,” “It’s dangerous to run inside, you might cause an accident,” or “When you shout, it hurts my ears. Could you speak more quietly?” You’ll smile when you hear your child copying this speech pattern!
Who doesn’t love to get things, especially for birthdays or other special occasions? But you can teach children that giving can also be enjoyable. Collect a box of books and toys that your child no longer uses or clothes they’ve outgrown. With your child, bring the goods to a resale organization, like Goodwill Industries. With 11 locations right here Knoxville, finding ways to help out has never been easier. While you’re there, ask an employee to tell your child why the donations are important, from their point of view. Expanding a child’s worldview is one of the greatest lessons you can teach.
Litter is more than just letting a scrap of paper fall to the ground; it’s a statement that you aren’t concerned about your environment. If you drop something, pick it up. If you don’t have access to a garbage bin, bring it home and throw it in with the household trash. If you see an abandoned newspaper on a bench while walking through the park, throw it out appropriately. You’ll be surprised how good you feel cleaning up a mess you didn’t create, and you’ll give a clear message to your children that home, community, and the environment worth caring about.
Children watch, listen, and learn from everything that we do. Demonstrating good behavior naturally reinforces the kindness children innately possess.
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