Every good parent wants to raise their child to be a good person. You don’t have full control over how your children turn out, but parents and guardians do have an influence on how children develop. One of the most important things, for a lot of parents, is to raise children with a good sense of kindness and empathy for others. Most people like to think they’re kind and empathetic, and they want their children to be kind as they grow older too. It takes time for some children to develop empathy and the ability to see another’s perspective, but it’s something you can teach too.
Set a Good Example
If you want your children to be kind and empathetic, you need to be a good role model. It’s important for your children to see that you prioritize kindness and thinking of others, both in how you treat them and how you interact with other people. Wanting to demonstrate kindness and empathy to your children can help you to become a better person too. By making an effort to set a good example, you can find yourself doing more good deeds or thinking of other people in a more positive manner.
Treat Your Child Respectfully
How you treat your child can make a big difference if you want them to develop kindness and respect. It ties into setting a good example, showing your children that everyone should be treated kindly. Treating your child respectfully can include many things, including being respectful of their autonomy and their time. For example, making sure they are allowed to say no to a hug or kiss helps to teach them about consent and that everyone is in charge of their own bodies. Telling them in advance when playtime is over or it’s time to go home shows you respect their time and their feelings.
Help Them Learn Through Play
Children learn a lot of skills relating to kindness and empathy through play. This includes both playing with other children and adults and playing imaginative and role-playing games on their own. Even technology can be a great tool for learning empathy and kindness through play. The co-founder of the OK Play app, Chris Ovitz says that their app supports socio-emotional learning through interactive storytelling. Play can allow children to learn to get along with others, see things from another’s point of view, and more.
Acknowledge Other People’s Perspectives
Helping your child to acknowledge and understand other people’s perspectives can be an important part of their development of empathy. This can include a number of things you can do together, from recognizing people’s expressions and feelings to asking your child to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It can take a while for a child to learn to look at something from the perspective of another person (and no one ever manages to do it all the time) but it’s a valuable skill.
Children will naturally begin to develop empathy and kindness, but it should also be taught, especially by setting a good example.