9 Ways of Teaching Kids to Care for Others

Our current education system places a lot of value on grades and achievement. While every parent wants their children to be successful, having empathy and caring for others is just as important. Kindness and compassion are crucial values that will serve your children well as they move into the adult world. For this reason, teaching kids to care can be a rewarding activity and help them to develop into healthy, kind-hearted adults.

There are many ways of instilling positive values in young people, and the key is for the parent to take the lead. Show your little ones how you take care of others, volunteer and help out together, speak about your feelings, and use media such as books to demonstrate how important and precious life is. Let’s have a closer look at how you can teach your children about compassion and empathy.

9 Ways of Teaching Kids to Care for Others 

1. Talk about Feelings 

Even at a young age, children experience many, often varied emotions. It’s important that they learn to discuss them and articulate their current mood, as this helps them to regulate their feelings better. Additionally, you should speak to them about your own emotions so they learn that their actions affect the way other people feel. For example, you could demonstrate that you are hurt when they hit you or that you are sad when they say something mean.  
At first, these conversations will be quite straightforward, but you can go into more depth as your children grow older. Whenever a situation involving multiple people occurs, you can ask your child what they think the others felt. Once your little ones are at school, they will encounter many situations that trigger various emotions, and you can help them process their feelings by discussing what happened. 

2. Expose them to Nature 

The natural world is full of wonder for young children, and they can often relate to animals very well. In the beginning, exploring various feelings using animal friends can be easier than jumping straight to people. Many parents have found that incorporating nature in discussions about empathy can be very effective and make the process fun.

Visit the zoo, a farm, or the local park often and speak about the animals you see. Are they happy or sad? Cold or warm? What are the farmers, zookeepers, or park wardens doing to help them? You should also let your child interact with them. When they pull an animal’s tail or hit it, you can explain that this hurts, demonstrating that other beings have feelings that must be respected. When they are gentle and stroke the animals, you can praise them.

3. Use Children’s Books as a Conversation Starter

Nothing beats experiencing kindness and compassion in the real world, but reinforcing the message with books and other forms of media can be very effective. A great example is Krystle Joy DeGraide’s The Story of You. This beautifully illustrated children’s book demonstrates the miracle of life and helps parents explain the events that happened before their child was born. 

With the assistance of this and other works, you can instill a sense of wonder in your child and show them how important every living being is. A story can be the starting point for important discussions that touch on concepts such as the cycle of life and the importance of every individual. Teaching kids to care is easy once they understand how sacred and precious their and others’ lives are.

4. Set a Good Example 

You can’t succeed in teaching your children good values if you don’t practice them yourself. They watch your every move, and for the first years of their life, you are their primary role model. That’s why examining your own actions and making sure your children see you caring for others is crucial. If you have a job that involves looking after people, you could take your children with you and show them what you do.

If not, there are plenty of other ways to set a good example. You can volunteer, be kind to your neighbors, help out elderly or disabled friends and family members, and donate money to causes you care about. Include your children in these actions and explain to them why you are doing these things. When they see you caring for the well-being of others, they will naturally want to be involved.

5. Acknowledge Positive Actions 

Most of us are quick to praise our little ones when they achieve something, whether this is their first steps, a great grade in school, or an athletic win. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget to honor the less tangible things related to their character. Whenever you notice your children displaying empathy or compassion, you should let them know and reward them for the positive behavior. 
This doesn’t necessarily mean giving them toys or food. In fact, such rewards could counteract the message you are trying to instill since you don’t want to equate their kindness with material things. Instead, you could hug or praise them. This type of affirmation from their parents can work wonders for their self-confidence and encourage them to repeat their actions in the future. 

6. Expose them to Various People 

Almost every child has some contact with people from different age groups and backgrounds. They might interact with grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings or cousins of a different gender, and their parents’ friends. But there is always room for increased diversity. Aside from spending time with their relatives and peers, you could encourage your children to meet others in different situations.

For example, you might expose them to other children with disabilities, so they lose their fear of those who have varying abilities and approach others with more compassion. If all parents went out of their way to expose their children to diverse people, many of our current societal issues might no longer exist.

7. Practice Caring for Others Together

Simply meeting people who are different might not be enough to truly teach your children to care. You could also figure out ways to help together with your little ones. Maybe the easiest method of fostering empathy and compassion is to acquire a pet. A dog or cat comes with several daily tasks, so your child will find out what caring for others looks like. 

If this is not an option or you’d like to take things a step further, you could help people outside of your household. For example, you might have elderly relatives who would be grateful if you visited or ran errands. Take your children with you on such trips, so they see that you incorporate kindness into your day-to-day life.

8. Look into Volunteering 

Another highly effective way of teaching kids to care is to volunteer with them. In most cities and towns, there are countless voluntary activities, so you can get involved in a way that suits your family. For example, children interested in sports could participate in open days, explaining their favorite sport to younger kids and encouraging them to try out. Alternatively, they could teach children from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

To get started, you could have a family meeting and speak about the kinds of tasks you might be interested in. You could discuss what needs there are in your community and how they could be met. Then, you can coordinate your schedules and figure out a good time for everyone in your family to help out in the local area.

9. Team Up with Other Parents 

Parenting is hard, especially when you are trying to raise responsible and kind-hearted young adults. For this reason, teaming up with other parents can be a great idea. There might be families in your area or at your church who are at a similar stage and interested in exchanging ideas. Even if your children are still very young, interacting with others from a different household could be a great idea.

For instance, you could team up with a family that has younger or older children. That way, your little ones will learn more about the needs of children of different ages. They can learn to negotiate in a group and play together, respecting the abilities and desires of others who are different from them.

Teaching children about compassion and empathy is crucial because it helps them to develop into healthy and kind adults. There are many activities you can do together with your little ones that will teach them about caring for others. For example, you could read books, meet different people, volunteer together, and frequently speak about your feelings. In fact, it’s easy to incorporate teaching kids to care into everyday life.

Concepts such as empathy can be emphasized throughout your children’s day. The best way of instilling them is often to be a role model and demonstrate how you help out. By teaming up with other parents, you can give your child a broader range of experiences and allow them to interact with children. Get in touch with Krystle Joy DeGraide today to find out more about her life-affirming book or to get more tips about raising confident yet compassionate children.

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