Teaching the Value of Kindness
Young children are egocentric and see things from their own points of view. As children grow older and begin to play with others, they need to learn how to be kind and share and get along with others. Here are some things to consider in teaching your child about kindness.
Please use the following age level specific guidelines to help you teach this particular value.
3 – 4 YEAR-OLDS:
Three to four year-olds are at the transition point between parallel play (in which they may play near each other, but their ideas and actions are their own) and cooperative play (in which they interact and need to learn to share and take turns). Three year-olds want to please adults. Four year-olds may not want to share but instead may brag, exaggerate, or boast about themselves or their families when they are around other children.
Parents can set good examples for sharing – without forcing little ones to lend their own possessions – by including children in their own service activities. By helping others together and pointing out to children that this is “being kind,” parents can encourage children to want to do these things too. These activities might be as simple as helping a neighbor, giving a friend a ride to the doctor’s office, or serving coffee and cookies at church. Children who want to be “helpers too” can be encouraged to do “kind things” like set the table, bring in the newspaper, or empty wastebaskets. Point out to them that these are “kind things to do” and praise them for “being kind.”
5 – 6 YEAR-OLDS:
Five and six year-olds are still egocentric and have difficulty imagining themselves in another’s place. Yet they are also beginning cooperative play and may be developing more sensitivity to other people. In addition to including them in their own service activities, parents can encourage kindness in five and six year-olds by teaching them to consider other people’s feelings. One way to achieve this is by doing role-plays in which the child is encouraged to imagine how another person might feel in a certain situation and in this way develop empathy for the other person. By this age children can also be encouraged to do “kind things” by putting groceries on low shelves, feeding pets, drying dishes and watering house plants. Always remember to praise youngsters’ efforts to be kind.
7 – 9 YEAR-OLDS:
Seven to nine year-olds change from play that is strictly self-centered to play in which there is joint participation. Yet, at the same time, they are also increasingly competitive and usually want to be first. Seven to nine year-olds are also at an age in which they want to do meaningful tasks. Parents can encourage kindness during this stage of development by continuing to model sharing, helping, and “being kind to one another,” and continuing to involve youngsters in these activities with them. Parents can also model sensitivity to others by encouraging their children to tell them – respectfully – how they feel. In this way, children can learn not only that their actions and attitudes affect others, but learn that it is important to be sensitive to the feelings of others. Parents should respond to their children’s needs for increasing responsibility by giving them activities to do around the house and then actively praising them for their “kind behavior.”
Activities To Do to Learn About Kindness
- Sit down with the whole family and list various ways to be kind in things we say (like “please” and “thank you”), in things we do (like sharing our crayons), and things we’ll do even when we don’t want to (like visiting relatives).
- Encourage your child’s imagination development by providing props to help children engage in make-believe play. For example, put together some pots and pans and dishes for children to “play house” together. Have them make a “pretend meal” and then eat it together!
Quigley’s Village Recommended Video on Kindness: “Be Kind to One Another”
The video that ties into this value is “Be Kind to One Another.” In this video, children learn that kindness is something we do and say, and that we should be kind to others even if they aren’t kind to us. Mr. Quigley receives a letter that says: “Be kind to one another.” He sends Trundle, the toucan, to show it to the others. He asks Bubba, the orangutan, to count ways to be kind. Meanwhile, Danny Lion is unkind to Spike when he tells her she can’t win the World Championship Hide and Seek Contest because she’s a girl. Spike then doesn’t feel like being kind to Danny when he breaks his arm just before the Championship Game. Both she and Danny learn how to be kind to others.
During the video, you may want to occasionally stop it and ask your children, “What do you think you would do (or feel or say) in this story?” Then, watch how the program ends.
After the video, ask your children to share what they thought about the story. Which character was their favorite? Which character was most like them? In what ways?
Additional activities to do after the video could be:
- Play your own game of World Championship Hide and Seek!
- Have your child draw a picture to send to a friend who’s sick. Children who are old enough to write can write a message on the back to tell the friend about Mr. Quigley’s letter. Younger children can dictate a message for you to write.
- Make baked banana together – Bubba’s favorite treat! Peel firm bananas. Place in a well-greased baking dish. Brush with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 – 15 minutes. Remove from oven. With the tip of a spoon, make a shallow groove along the banana and fill with honey.
- Learn and sing together the song “Be Kind to One Another.”
Recommended Books to Learn About Kindness
- “I’m a Good Helper,” Ron and Lyn Klug. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1981.
- “The Kindness Weapon,” Bruce Wannamaker. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1984.
- “Watch Out for Becky,” Chuck Colson. Elgin, IL: David C. Cook, 1986.