Most parents rank instilling kindness in their children very high on the list of parenting. However, data shows something different. A Harvard study done from 2013 - 2014 shows children's perceptions of what their parents want for them is contradictory.
They interviewed 10,000 middle and high school students and found that they were 3x more likely to believe that "My parents are prouder of me if I get good grades than if I am a caring community member in class or school".
Here are 4 simple ways to integrate kindness into your child's moral development.
1. Random acts of kindness. Make it fun. Help your child surprise others by doing fun things for them. Check in with them about how it went, how they felt when they did it, and how others reacted when they discovered it. This is a great dinner table conversation. When we ask our kids about school, they feel school is what is important to you. When we ask our kids about kindness, they will learn that is important as well. Kids will follow our lead. What we don't say is equally as impactful as what we do say.
2. Teach them how to be good listeners. This one is especially important in today's society filled with distractions and technology. Help them learn how to have good eye contact, repeat back what others are saying and how they are feeling, be empathetic about their situation, and most importantly, put down their cell phones!
3. Help them manage their own difficult emotions. Be a good listener as a parent, before fixing. Be empathetic, even when the conflict is between you and your child. Support them when they hear or see difficult issues going on in the world, in their class, or in your family.
4. Be a good role model. Children will learn from you. Keep yourself in check because the most powerful way kids learn is through role modeling! It doesn't mean you have to be perfect, but if you do make a mistake and treat others in unkind ways, then go have a conversation with your child afterwards. Attachment is not only about closeness, its about the reconnecting after conflict. Also, do random acts of kindness for your child. Do their chore for them when you know they are overwhelmed.