Kindness is one of the most important traits any child could have, and like many others, their ability to treat others with empathy and kindness starts at home. There are several things you can start early on in your child’s life to help him or her learn to be kind to others in school, and the following four represent some of the absolute best and most effective.
Be a Role Model
Preschool aged children are sponges, and you have likely already experienced this to a degree. If you say something, there’s a good chance your child repeats it, and if you do something, your child will probably want to do it too. With this in mind, one of the best things you can do to help teach a preschool-aged child kindness in the classroom is to model the appropriate behavior. Always say please and thank you, hold doors for others, and look for opportunities to provide some random acts of kindness. Be sure to discuss these things with your preschooler as they are happening so he or she can make the connection.
Kindness comes in many different forms, so it’s often up to us to be aware of our surroundings. The goal here is to teach your little one to actively look for opportunities to spread kindness and love. For example, if your preschooler’s baby sister is crying because she’s lost her pacifier, you can use this as an example. “Oh, look. Your sister is sad because she can’t find her pacifier. It would be very kind of you to find it and give it back to her.” Another great way to reinforce this idea is to allow your child to help you with everyday tasks whenever he or she offers. When you praise them for their help, they learn that helping others and kindness go hand-in-hand.
Make a Game Of It
One of the best ways to make the process of teaching kindness fun is to create something called a “Kindness Hat” or “Kindness Jar.” Cut up some construction paper into strips, then sit down with your child and brainstorm as many kind actions as you can. Write each one down on a strip, fold it up, and put it in the hat or jar. Then, whenever the opportunity arises, have your child pick one of the strips and help him or her complete the task written there. You may include activities to take place at home, in church, and at school.
Do Away with Negativity
By humans’ very nature, they are quick to correct inappropriate behavior, but slow to provide praise – even when praise is due. However, as a parent of a preschooler, doing away with negativity and focusing instead on positivity can go a long way toward teaching kindness. For example, rather than being upset that your child dragged toys all over the playroom floor, get him or her interested in cleaning them up, then be sure to explain just how much you appreciated that help and how kind it was.
Teaching preschoolers how to be kind in the classroom may seem like a challenge, especially when you don’t spend much time in your child’s classroom at all. The truth of it is that kindness starts at home, so be a role model for your child, teach him to be aware of his surroundings, and make things fun for her by turning kindness into a game. These will almost certainly help to improve your child’s behavior at home, at school, and beyond.