Powerful Advice For Raising Kind Kids In Today’s Crazy World
Raise your hands high if you’re all about raising kind kids.
That’s a lot of hands up in the air!
I think we all want that as parents: to raise kids who know how to treat all people with kindness, respect, and love.
But have you ever had the thought as a parent, Do I seriously have to remind them again to be kind?
Yeah. Me too.
The truth is, everyone needs reminders about being kind.
From toddlers to adults, we all have a tendency to use our words to tear down.
Our world is in need of some serious kindness.
Just look at social media for 5 minutes or watch a few TV shows for kids and you’ll hear and read all kinds of insults, rude chatter, and disrespect.
Raising kind kids doesn’t happen overnight.
But it can happen.
It’s so important to realize that teaching kids about kindness needs to start in your home.
We cannot rely on the media, schools, and other people to do it for us.
Kids need to see it modeled and taught as early as possible, by their parents.
Raising kind kids requires hard work, diligence, some creativity, and a willingness to persevere.
I’ve put together a list that highlights the 8 eye-opening secrets for raising kind kids.
I hope as you go through each one, it gives you many ideas for how you can apply this in your own home.
Having said that, let’s spend some time learning how to best accomplish this task!
*This article contains affiliate links which means I may make a small commission from any items that you choose to purchase. There are 2 awesome parenting books once you make it to Recess!
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Raising Kind Kids Starts At Home
1. Define It
In order to teach kids about kindness, you have to first define it.
They may not have a knowledge base for what kindness even is, depending on their age.
You can define it like this: “Being kind means you speak in a way that makes others feel loved and appreciated.
You treat others the way that you would want to be treated, and consider others more important than yourself.”
Another way to help a child understand a concept is to show them examples of what it isn’t.
For instance, “If you’re kind, you don’t call people names. You don’t put them down or say things that make them feel small or unappreciated.
You don’t hurt with your words or actions.”
Things You May Have Heard Inside Your Own Home
“Mommy, that lady has a giant nose.”
“Why are her teeth so big?”
“I hate you!”
Sound familiar to anyone?
Everyone in your family always speaks in a kind way and gets along all the time? You should get an award!
For all the other people on the planet who deal with unkind happenings at home, here’s an example from my own home.
Real Life Example
Addie: “Mommy, I think I’m going to call you big giant squishy thighs.”
Me: ??!!??!!??!! (Don’t get offended. Just respond calmly.) “Addie…you can’t say that.
Mommies don’t appreciate it when you comment on their bodies, unless it’s something kind. Say something like, ‘I love your eyes.’”
Addie: “Okay Mommy. I’ll call myself big giant squishy thighs, because my legs are REALLY muscular.”
Me: “Great, as long as you don’t use those words for me.”
I actually did a double-take when Addie first said that.
I know she’s only 6, but still…those weren’t my favorite words to hear.
It made me want to do a bunch of squats or switch to jeans over shorts.
My own daughter can cause my self-conscious tendencies to rear their ugly heads in no time flat.
Rather than being highly offended and taking it personally, I decided to use that moment to teach Addie the difference between appropriate/kind comments versus inappropriate/rude comments.
Kids definitely speak their minds, I get it. Addie speaks her mind all the time.
Define kindness to your kids. Have them give you examples of what kindness is versus what kindness is not.
Make a list of examples of kind behavior/choices versus unkind ones.
That’s very helpful for kids who are visual learners.
If you have a wide range of ages in your home, have your teenagers define it for the younger ones.
Giving kids the opportunity to teach not only helps involve them in family happenings, but it also shows you as their parent if they really grasp the concept.
2. Model It In Your Home
Kids need to see kindness played out, plain and simple.
If you take the time to teach kindness to your kids and turn around and are rude to them, not only are you a hypocrite, but the teaching was pointless.
If you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.
When you are raising kind kids, there’s no room for hypocrisy!
How do I model kindness to my kids? It’s so easy for me to lose my patience, especially if they aren’t listening.
We all (adults too) need help with self-control in moments of frustration or anger. It’s our human nature to lash out and be nasty.
But just because that’s our tendency doesn’t make it right or appropriate.
How Do I Model Kindness?
In moments of frustration or impatience, you can take deep breaths, pray, walk away for a moment, or use any other calming tactics.
If your child is disrespectful to you or not obeying, approach them in love and remind them of the original instruction.
See if there’s an initial response and move forward from there.
3 Question Method
When I taught kindergarten, there was a tactic we used with our kids called The 3 Question Method.
We learned this as a faculty and tried to apply it with our students.
If a student was ever off task, you were to approach them calmly and ask these questions:
- What are you doing?
- What are you supposed to be doing?
- How are you going to change it?
In between the questions, you wait for a response and then continue with the next question.
It actually was really helpful to have the student identify what was going on and own up to the wrong choice (if they chose to respond).
Asking the questions provided an opportunity for the student to really think about what was going on and how to quickly correct the poor choice.
For me, it was a useful tool for engaging with my students in a calm way because the prepared questions were ready to go.
I didn’t really have to sift through my emotions to find words. They were already there!
I definitely recommend this strategy in teaching and in parenting. It will help you remain calm under pressure!
Modeling kindness in your home applies to your actions, words, and attitudes towards your kids AND your spouse.
You can’t be super kind and bubbly to your kids and then be a complete jerk to your husband in front of your kids. Not helpful or appropriate.
Your kids will most likely call you out for missing the mark…as they should!
3. Block Tower Analogy
When you’re raising kind kids, you have to get creative!
This is hands down my favorite analogy when teaching kids about kindness.
How To Teach It
These are the main teaching points to explain the block tower. Really sell it!
- Everyone’s heart is like a tower of blocks. It has the potential to be big, strong, and full of love.
- It’s so important to help other people’s block towers remain strong and never be a part of tearing them down.
- When you say something nice to someone or share a toy, it’s like adding a block to their tower. They feel special, valued, and appreciated.
- Their tower is stronger because you shared and were kind! You were a BUILDER.
- But maybe one day you decide to take all the toys for yourself or tell a friend they can’t play with you, then what do you think happens to their tower?
- It gets smaller.
- Your unkind words and sad choice of not sharing made your friend feel unwanted and not important.
- Your words made their tower weaker. We always want to try to be BUILDERS with our words and not destroyers.
I love the block tower analogy because it’s so relatable for kids.
Most young kids have played with blocks and have experienced the frustration when the tower fell or it was knocked down by a younger sibling.
That’s a tough recovery for a kid!
Using this analogy helps kids to visualize in their minds what happens to a person’s heart when unkind and hurtful things are said or done.
They don’t want to be a destroyer!
It can also help them see the benefits of kindness and what it does to a person’s sense of self-worth and confidence.
Trust me, kids want to be tower builders!
The tower analogy is super simple.
I definitely recommend using it and referring to it often in your home!
Make sure your home is filled with tower builders!
What is role-play? How do I do that with my kids in an effective way?
According to Webster’s Dictionary, role-play means to act out the role of or to represent in action.
When you engage in role-play with your kids, you are allowing them to act out certain scenarios to teach them about kindness.
If you have 2 young ones who’ve been fighting a bunch, make up a scene where kindness is shown by one child to the other.
Then, have them reverse the roles so they are able to understand both sides.
Role-Play Example To Use With Your Kids
Ben: “Hey Mandy, can I help you make this train track?”
Mandy: “Hmmmmmm…I just got these for my birthday. I don’t really want you to use them.”
Ben: “Please? I’m kind of bored and I really want to play with you. I won’t wreck stuff.”
Mandy: “I guess so. But you only get one chance, okay?”
Ben: (So excited!) “Great! Thank you so much Mandy.”
Mandy: “Come over here and I’ll show you where I need some help to build this.”
After you have your kids read through this (or maybe you read it if they’re too young to read) have a discussion where you can get their take on what happened.
- What happened in this story?
- What was it like to be Ben and feel left out?
- How did it feel for Mandy after she chose to share her new trains with her brother?
- What’s one way you can choose kindness with each other?
The possibilities are endless with these scenarios, and you can for sure come up with them on the fly.
Using role-play with kids is such a great teaching tool for emphasizing the value of kindness!
You’re halfway through the article so it seems like you’re really committed to the topic of raising kind kids. Great!
Why not reward yourself by buying one of these books? They are both fantastic!
I Can’t Believe You Just Said That! Biblical Wisdom For Taming The Tongue
by Ginger Hubbard
This book is fantastic! Get ready to laugh with Ginger as she shares lots of examples from her
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Raising Grateful Kids In An Entitled World by Kristen Welch
This is hands down my favorite parenting book ever! I don’t have enough
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it again and take copious notes because it’s that good!
5. Point It Out When You See It
Sometimes in parenting it is so easy to point out the negative things we see our kids doing rather than the positive.
This is something I am guilty of for sure.
“I don’t like how you didn’t listen to me.”
“I don’t appreciate that you rolled your eyes and ignored me when I was talking to you.”
“Stop yelling and being mean to your brother.”
You could have a laundry list of negatives real quick.
When it comes to raising kind kids, there’s nothing more valuable than celebrating with a child when you see them being kind. Point it out right away!
Don’t just say, “Hey, thanks for being kind.”
Try to be more specific. “I loved how you chose to share your new train set with your brother.
I know that was hard for you since you just got that for your birthday. That was an awesome choice.”
See the difference?
You’re not only applauding the kindness in your child, but you’re giving a current example and showing them how much it meant to their sibling, as well as to you.
Your kids need to see that you value seeing the good things in their life and the God-honoring qualities over the negative things.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s very important to point out when your child has missed the mark.
They need to know when they’re wrong.
But sometimes we overemphasize the wrong over the right.
It seems not as natural to point out the good choices, maybe because that’s what we expect to see.
When we see the bad things happen, we completely freak out and with our minds and hearts say, “Oh no you DID NOT just do that! What were you thinking?”
Our kids need to hear over and over again about the right, kind, and honorable things we see them doing on a daily basis.
This will help emphasize these kinds of choices in their minds and in their hearts and build their confidence!
Hopefully it will stick!
6. Zero Tolerance Policy
An important eye-opening secret for raising kind kids is to have a zero tolerance policy.
There is no tolerance for any unkind treatment of another person.
If something happens that is unkind, there will be a conversation about it, a consequence, and the behavior will not continue anymore.
And this has to happen every single time.
This may seem extreme, but the only way to show your kids that mean, cruel and unkind behavior are not tolerated in your home, is to address it right away and call it out.
When you see an infraction, you need to first call the child or children over who are involved, have a conversation to address the issues, allow for apologies/forgiveness, and have appropriate consequences.
Your kids need to know that unkind behavior will ALWAYS be addressed and is NEVER tolerated in your home.
It’s not even tolerated in pretend play.
A rule in our house is, “Even when we pretend, we use kind words.”
Addie is not allowed to do any kind of pretend play where the characters or people are being rude or unkind with their words or actions. There’s just no reason for it.
When she’s pretending, she needs to do so in a way that promotes kindness, love, and respect.
I encourage you to have a similar rule in your own home or classroom. It’s super important!
7. Practice The Right Choice
This one is so important…don’t miss it!
When you’re in the trenches of parenting and trying to just put out a bunch of fires, you lose energy and motivation quickly.
Sometimes once the consequence and reconciliation has taken place, it’s easy to stop there.
Move on with your day.
But if you stop there, you’re missing out on a HUGE teachable moment.
Real Life Example:
Me: “Addie, come talk to me please.”
Addie: “Yes Mommy?”
Me: “What did I ask you to do?”
Addie: “Fold my laundry and put it away.”
Me: “What did you do instead?”
Addie: “Play in my room.”
Me: “Was that the right choice?”
Me: “What would it have looked like to obey?”
Addie: “Fold my laundry, put my clothes away, and then play in my room.”
Me: “Right. Now would you like another chance to show me you can do it?”
Addie: “Yes Mommy.”
Now it’s not going to go that smooth every time, but you get the idea.
Addie didn’t listen and obey the first time, but through our conversation, she acknowledged what she did wrong, and I felt like I needed to give her another chance to obey and follow through.
I want her to practice obedience as much as possible!
In the end her laundry got folded and put away, and we both walked away learning something.
Sometimes raising kind kids means giving them opportunities to try again when they’ve messed up.
Rather than focusing on a consequence or tough conversation, you move towards the obedient and submissive heart of your child and campout there for a while.
Hopefully at the end of this second chance, you have a happier child and a more satisfied parent.
Remember, kids needs tons of practice with lots of things.
8. Kindness Jar
Another awesome secret for raising kind kids is to create a kindness jar.
This could be a small mason jar that sits in the middle of the kitchen table.
Wherever it is, everyone in the family needs to be able to see it and access the jar.
When you see or hear about a family member being kind, the person who noticed can write it down on a sticky note or index card, fold it up and stick it in the jar.
At the end of the month, the jar is emptied and the acts of kindness are read out loud.
This is a time to not only acknowledge kindness in the family, but to celebrate the love that is being shared and acted out on a daily basis.
Make this a BIG DEAL!
I would say if you have little kids, emptying the jar on a weekly basis might be a better option.
They need to have the celebrations occur more often to keep it real for them.
Stretching out the jar reveal for a month may be harder.
I can also see the benefits of doing it once a month.
Throughout the month everyone in the family would hopefully see the jar fill up more and more with acts of kindness.
There would most likely be lots of anticipation to dump them all out on the last day of the month.
Either way would work great! Do what’s best for you and your family.
Who knows? Doing this simple family activity could cultivate a bit more kindness in every person’s heart, including you and your spouse! =)
Recommended Reading: Top 10 Screen Free Family Activities
Don’t Forget To Pin This Before You Go!
Now That’s A Wrap!
Thanks for hanging with me through this post!
Were your eyes opened to new ideas? Did you have any AHA! moments? I hope so!
To put a little icing on the cake of kindness, here are some things to remember.
- Kindness has to be taught and modeled. The best place to do that is in your own home. It starts with the parents!
- Kindness isn’t something that just develops overnight. It’s a process.
- Show yourself and your people lots of grace as you all learn the value of kindness.
For all of my note takers out there, here are those secrets once more.
8 Tips For Raising Kind Kids
- Define It
- Model It In Your Home
- Block Tower Analogy
- Point It Out When You See It
- Zero Tolerance Policy
- Practice The Right Choice
- Kindness Jar
I hope you found this article helpful as you strive to teach and model kindness to your kids.
My prayer for each of you is that as you go through this process, God gives you many opportunities to celebrate the progress that you see in yourself and in your kids.
Usually when your kids are learning something, you get to learn it too!
Here’s to teaching, modeling, and spreading kindness all around.
Lots of love to each of you!