How To Raise A Kind And Compassionate Child

‘No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted’

There’s no doubt that the world could benefit from more acts of kindness - both big and small - and our first step towards this is to raise our children to be kind, compassionate and caring.

But how do we do that?  Is it easier said than done?  Is it even possible to teach kindness and compassion or are these simply genetic traits that are stronger in some people than in others?

The reality is that everyone has the capacity for altruism, but not everyone is given the opportunity to develop that innate concern for the wellbeing of other people into a guiding principle which informs how they go about their daily lives.

That’s where parents, caregivers and educators have a huge role to play.  We can lay the foundations for young children to become kinder, gentler and more compassionate - and by doing so, will help set them on course to become more ethical, connected, appreciative and contented adults.

So how do we raise kind and compassionate children?

If you look at some of the most influential people in world history such as Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, you’ll notice that they were all deeply compassionate people.  They genuinely cared about the wellbeing of others and were motivated by a desire to take action which would help others.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could teach our children to empathise with others, to understand and respect people’s differences, to be considerate, to give back and to be generous?  Well, we can.

Whether at home, at childcare or early school, here are five ways that we can help our kids become more thoughtful, kind and compassionate.

Encouraging compassion and kindness in your child

1. Be a good role model

Children do as they see.  They’ll mirror your behaviour and take their cues from you, so it is important to set a good example and to be consistent in your actions.  Talk to your child often about the importance of kindness and respect and why your family values these qualities - and remember, always use positive and encouraging language.

2. Point out acts of kindness

Communication is so important when it comes to instilling values in our young children.  Try and point out occasions where you have done - or are doing - something for another person and explain the reasons why you acted in that way.  Talking about emotions and feelings will help children develop a sense of empathy and also to be more proactive about being kind, caring and thoughtful. 

“I opened the door for the lady in the wheelchair as I could see it might be difficult for her to reach the handle”.  “Let’s check that there’s water in the dog’s bowl as it is so hot today and he might be extra thirsty”.  “Let’s ask that child if she would like to join in the game as she is sitting on her own”.  “I’m making a cake for Jenny as she is sick at home”.

Giving your child lots of examples of compassionate and kind acts will help them learn to put themselves in others’ shoes.  And remember, these don’t have to always be substantial interventions.  Simply being polite and respectful towards other people in your everyday interactions will encourage your child to follow your lead.

3. Show kindness and respect to your own child.

Try not to leap straight into admonishment or punishment mode when your child has erred - and avoid embarrassing them in public.  Rather be supportive, talk through the situation with them, ask why they behaved in a certain way, ask about what emotions they were feeling and if they could suggest a different way of doing things.  When a child feels that they’ve been heard and their feelings acknowledged, they’re more likely to listen to others.

4. Demonstrate gratitude

Gratitude teaches children to be kinder as it helps develop a sense of appreciation for what they have (and who they have) in their lives and how the acts of others impact how they feel.

There are many ways you can encourage your child to be grateful.  Talk to your child often about what you’re grateful for. Set aside time at the dinner table where every member of the family can chat about something that they were thankful for during the day.  Have a gratitude jar in which the family can pop little ‘thank you’ notes.  Stick a piece of paper on the fridge with a magnet and write down regular ‘gratitude’ posts.  Encourage your child to do something positive for the person for whom they are grateful.

5. Read books with your child

Experts agree that reading books with your child helps them develop empathy and compassion.  They identify with the feelings of characters in the book.  They learn about different cultures and perspectives and this helps them develop an understanding that not everyone experiences the world in the same way.

A last word on raising kind and compassionate children

Thankfully, kindness and compassion are qualities that children can learn over time and through practice.  What we do in the home, at school and out in the community all play a significant part in fostering these skills in young children and setting them on course to becoming decent, well-adjusted, engaged and caring adults who are not only kind to others, but who are kind to themselves too.

Here at Evoke Early Learning, we nurture professional, trusting and reciprocal relationships between our educators, our children and their families.  Our safe, nurturing and inclusive environments not only promote knowledge, inspire a lifelong love of learning, built resilience, responsibility, self-confidence, teamwork, problem-solving skills as well as creative and scientific thinking - they’re also geared towards encouraging our children to become kinder and more compassionate individuals. 

To find out more, or to see these values in action at our childcare centre in Albert Park and our childcare centre in Clayton, we warmly invite you to book a tour or get in touch with our friendly team.  We’d love to meet you and your child!

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