If you could have one wish what would it be? Toward the top of the list I’m sure we could find world peace. A grand idea, but it all has to start somewhere. How about in our homes?
Sometimes we may think that our efforts of teaching our children to be nice are futile, but the other day my daughter’s teacher pulled me aside and told me a story that brought me hope.
The teacher had brought signs for the kids to hold that were attached to popsicle sticks. Problem was, she happened to be 1 short, so everyone was able to hold one, except for the last little girl. The teacher told this girl that she would be able to help by holding up a different picture, but this little girl was upset that she didn’t get one with a popsicle stick. The teacher had greatly underestimated the worth of that popsicle stick to a 5 year old girl. The girl started crying as the teacher tried to calm her. Then my daughter stepped forward and offered the girl her sign on a stick. How pleased I was that she would do such a nice thing.
Now don’t get me wrong. That same evening she was antagonizing her little sister by taking her favorite bear away from her. But having her teacher comment on the difference my daughter had made to her day seemed to dampen my reaction to the later offense.
Teaching our children to be nice is something that takes time and patience. The biggest thing for them to realize is that kindness has value. It’s easy to think that the world isn’t fair, or they are being cheated out of something better by being nice, but in reality, everyone benefits when someone is nice. Here are some ideas to help your children be nicer.
Be nice to your kids.
Treat your children with respect and encourage them to do the same. There should still be discipline, but use words instead of force.
Pay attention to your kids.
Spend quality time with them. Let them know that you love them. A person is more likely to be nice if they feel good about themselves.
Model good behavior.
Let your children see you being nice. Volunteer, help your neighbors, and treat others with dignity and respect.
Use kind language.
Don’t treat someone nicely and then come home and talk bad behind their back. Everyone has a different idea of “good” words and “bad” words. I would suggest that any words that are not nice, are also “bad” words.
Reinforce good behavior.
When you see your child being nice, make a big deal out of it. Sometimes you may have to look long and hard to find something, but when you do, praise them heavily for it, multiple times.
Give your children chores.
There was a study from the University of Minnesota that showed children that did housework had better feelings of responsibility and self worth in their later years. Who would have guessed that chores could make your children nicer? MyJobChart.com couldn’t prove it till now, but we’ve known it all along.
Read about being kind.
We all know the importance of reading to our children. Add some books about kindness to your reading schedule and then discuss them.
Encourage them to make friends.
When you have a friend you tend to do things for them out of kindness. You also tend to sacrifice more for them than a stranger.
Get a pet.
A pet can make everyone happy. Except for maybe cleaning up after it, and then it will reinforce how to care for something that doesn’t always reciprocate it.