My son, Tyler, is 2.5 years old and already knows the value of kindness. This is something that we have always tried to instill through example. At such a young age, we believe it's the best way for him to learn what kindness is and how to be kind himself.
Our first lesson in kindness comes from how we speak. When Tyler falls or bumps his head, or even when the dogs get knocked, we always ask "are you ok?" He is learning concern and empathy for those around him. Now, when we are around other people, especially his younger cousin, and someone slips or hurts themselves, he immediately comes over and asks if they are ok. If they seem upset, he will give a hug or pat them on the back. In this way, he is learning that kindness can be found in the little things we do every day and in how we treat people, not just in grand gestures.
At this stage of the game, we are learning about kindness through sharing. Especially with a new sibling on the way, we a showing that sharing doesn't mean losing out, it means having someone to play together with. We started sharing with food, and we are at the point where Tyler will share some of his favorite treats if asked, like cookies or a piece of candy. We are currently working on sharing toys. Some toys are easier to share than others, but we show by example that it's always nice to share. Again, it's the concept of kindness in our everyday lives and in how we treat people.
On the other hand, we also involve Tyler in our efforts to help the community on a larger scale. Last December, I organized a pajama and book drive at a local school. Tyler helped me bake the cookies for the event. He was also at the event itself and participated in the drive with the students. At the dance school where I teach, we made holiday cards for nursing homes. Tyler decorated 3 cards himself. He has participated in several charity walks, helped me gather items for donation. Now he may not yet know the impact he is making, but by participating in these projects regularly, this charitable behavior becomes a part of his life. He will learn the value of kindness to those who are less fortunate than we are.
Although, we have a young family, we encourage kindness daily by modeling kindness in our own behavior. We find its the best way to develop kindness in our kids
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.