It’s another beautiful day at the park with your children as they run around and play with other kids near the slide. All of a sudden you hear your child’s voice, “She’s not being kind! I shared my ball and she won’t give it back.” You sigh, because you just want your child to have fun and play with peers but instead it’s playground drama again. Your child may be 3, 4, or 5 but they clearly understand when someone is being kind.
You scan the area and try to assess the situation to see if you should intervene, encourage them to play somewhere else or just give them language strategies.
You see that it was a toddler, maybe a 2-year-old, that wasn't being nice to your child. Before you can act the parent comes over and has the child apologize and give the ball back. Your child accepts the apology with grace.
As she sits next to you, you ask, ”that was a lot of emotions, how do you feel now?”
She replies, “I’m nice to other kids like you taught me but I don’t understand why they can’t all be nice?”
This is an excellent teachable moment to talk about kindness with your child instead of telling them to brush it off and go play. This can be a tough age because you want to model for them but also want them to solve problems on their own with their friends.
Here’s a child-friendly script, “Kids are still learning, especially the younger ones. I’m glad that you came over and asked for help instead of just fighting over it. It is OK to ask for help. You were kind in accepting her apology.”
In these quick moments children are learning and listening to you and the impact can last a lifetime.
As a parent, you’ve decided to really make an intentional effort to incorporate biblical values and scripture into your daily life.
At Castle Blossom Press, we’re all about supporting families to integrate bible-based principles into daily life. We have several blogs covering spiritual, educational, and familial topics on our blog page.
Let’s talk about Kindness and how you can teach this important lesson to children.
How to Teach Kindness
So what is kindness and why is it important? When I ask a 4-year-old what kindness is, the usual response is to be nice.
The answer is not wrong and it also reminds adults about getting to the core of it. Kindness means being friendly, generous, and considerate. And a child sees all those qualities as nice.
As parents, we tend to pause and think about how to explain things in child-friendly language that their developing brains can grasp.
Kindness is a learned behavior. And guess who they are more than likely to mimic? Yup, you.
Kindness involves intentional action. We can’t just think we’re kind, we have to act on it and serve others.
No matter the age of your children, they are always learning from your behavior so modeling is always going to be the dominant way to teach your children.
Character development happens their whole life but in the first five years of life, it gets incorporated as they grow and flow through rapid developmental phases. So be conscious and aware of your own behavior.
Some examples of modeling good behavior are:
- Compliment people
- Asking friendly questions
- Offering help
Read Bible Stories
Here are some Bible stories that talk about kindness:
- Jesus dining with a sinner (Luke 19:1-10)
- Jesus preaching to the Gentiles (John 4:4-14)
- Jesus showing compassion to the sick (Luke 8:40-48)
Scripture also reminds us how important it is to be of service to others.
A regular topic of conversation that you can have with your young child is the fruit of the spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control.”
After long busy days, you may hope that your child will play independently so you can make dinner or do some chores around the house. But play is a great time for conversations, it’s a more relaxed time and children are usually more receptive. Pretend play is how you can model and build on important topics. Honestly, it doesn’t have to be a long time.
Pretend play questions:
- “What are some kinds of things your doll can say to her best friend?”
- “I like how you draw, can you be the teacher?”
- “Let’s play your game first, then it will be my turn, ok?”
Maybe your kids are crashing toy cars into one another so steer it another way. “Let’s race the cars” after winning make sure to say kind words to show good sportsmanship. “Congratulations on winning! That was a tough race and I’m bummed I lost, but happy for you. Let’s race again!”
Random Acts of Kindness
These might be a favorite of mine to teach. Think of a time someone made your day by being kind. Did you ever share it with your family? You should!
Let your child know when you are doing something to be kind to others. It can be spontaneous. Maybe it becomes almost game-like to your children.
The best part is that you don’t need to buy anything, it’s all about ‘acts’ for others.
Here are some ideas to show your child/children:
- Hold the door for others in public
- Spend time with someone who is lonely
- Tell someone why they are a great friend
- Give compliments
- Give water bottles to people working outside on a hot day
- Ask a family member if they want a foot massage
- Invite a neighbor over to watch a movie
- Share cookies with your neighbor
A super easy and fun game to play with your 3, 4, or 5-year-old is the smiling game:
- Say to your kids, “Let’s smile” or “let's smile at people in the grocery store or on our walk”
- Let’s wave at people or other kids on the playground
- When someone in the family seems grumpy, smile at them or make goofy faces and see how long it takes for them to smile
Why Kindness Is Important:
Kindness is contagious, it makes others happy and ourselves too! And more than likely everyone involved is smiling too. That's one important reason why kindness is the best gift to give.
What are some random acts of kindness that you can do with your family this month?
Click here to read more stories of Character Development.