Hardly a day goes by without me groaning in despair about the world around me. Intolerance, hatred and violence seem to take over the inherent goodness of people. It is a sad place to be and a hard place to raise kind human beings. We unfortunately dwell in a world where interactions over the cell phones take precedence over face-to-face interactions and we inadvertently send a message to our children that it is ok to be rude.
There are small things I do to try to teach my daughter to be more empathetic and accepting of people in general.
Teach and Talk More
Understanding their own feelings and learning to express them is a major challenge for people of all ages. Especially for kids. Teaching them to listen to their minds and to sort their feelings is a survival skill they need to navigate this world. Often adults tend not to talk about their feelings to kids. I try to express my emotions (anger, fear and joy too) in front of my daughter regularly and teach her to do the same.
Books are a great way to talk about emotions. Fiction books are loaded with emotionally charged scenes which make it a great place to discuss about feelings. It is always a good exercise to put oneself in the place of the characters and build a new story around it.
Say Nice Things
Make it a family rule to say nice things to at least 3 people every day. It soon becomes a habit and often a cycle. It will come back to you when you least expect it but need it the most.
We are a generation bent over by the power of our mobile phones – we laugh into them and scream at them. Straighten up and teach your kids to make eye contact when they speak to someone. A firm handshake is another great skill to learn and cultivate. Also remind them to watch for non-verbal cues.
Seek Inspiring Stories
The world is not a horrible place. There are inspiring people changing things. Seek stories about them. They are usually hidden in some corner of the newspaper. Read it with the kids. Applaud and support such people.
Lead by Example
It is a known fact. Kids mirror the adults in their lives. Be empathetic. Share your emotions and don’t be scared to wear your heart on your sleeve every now and then. The kids will soon do the same.
What are some of your tips to raise kind children?
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