We all want to raise kids who are caring, understanding, polite and ethical, but it’s not always easy to know we’re doing a good job of it. According to human development researchers at Harvard, here are some guidelines we can follow to raise kinder children:
- Spend time with your kids regularly and engage in meaningful conversation. This will teach them to be caring and loving by example. So show them affection, take a genuine interest in their life, encourage and praise them. Show them what a good relationship looks like so they can create that with others.
- Be a solid role model and a strong mentor. Make sure you’re following the advice you give them about honesty, humility, and contributing to the community, so they’ll want to do the same.
- Send clear messages and prioritize being kind. Encourage your children to be kind to others and to work out problems by thinking about the people who will be affected by their actions.
- Provide opportunities to be caring by giving responsibilities. Give kids chores to do around the house and talk to them about what they can do to help the community as well. And be sure to express gratitude and appreciation to them and motivate them to do the same for other people.
- Help children to "zoom out" to understand the range of hardships and experiences other people face. Help them see the big picture, beyond their friends and family. Talk about how they can help, encourage them to listen to others, and value understanding and compassion.
- Provide opportunities for kids to take action, join causes, and do for others. Find ways for them to volunteer with a cause they care about.
- Help children to identify feelings and resolve conflicts with self-control. Teach them to recognize and understand their feelings and to manage them with deep breaths and counting to calm down.