I have worked for many years in classrooms as a volunteer, an aide, and a teacher. I’ve worked with many children from a variety of backgrounds and ability levels. Despite these differences in background, some personality trends always remain the same, including those of character and mannerism. Almost across the board, children with parents who are consistently involved and who model positive behaviors are the children who demonstrate these same behaviors. These are the students who are happiest and healthiest. But how do we best go about raising children who are kind and well-mannered? Here are 12 tips to get you thinking.
1. Model Behavior
I’m sure you’ve never been out shopping or dining with your kids and dealt with a difficult server or employee. Yeah, right! How do you react to these frustrating encounters? Do you raise your voice, yell, or resort to name-calling? Or do you keep your calm, remain patient, and work through the problem with respectful communication? Your children are watching. Every. Single. Move. I promise. And then they mimic your behaviors. Every. Single. Move. I promise. Just ask your child’s teacher. It sounds so simple, but the next time you’re confronted with how to react to a situation, remember that Little Eyes are watching and will similarly react to other people as you have shown them to do. Read more here.
2. Write Thank You Notes
Help children to show gratitude for others’ kind deeds and gifts by writing thank you notes. Make them aware of the generosity and even sacrifice that it takes to give gifts and how we must be grateful to receive these gifts rather than come to expect them.
3. Praise the Positive
Children love and live for your approval! They seek it out. Be sure not to let yourself get so busy that your only interactions with your child are moments of reprimand. Odd as it may sound, if that’s the only attention a child is getting from you, they’ll do whatever they can, be it “good” or “bad”, to get even those words of reproach. Instead, remember to give comments of praise freely and regularly. The behaviors you acknowledge will be the behaviors that are continued.
4. Concentrate On Kindness
As you give compliments and praise to your child, focus especially on recognizing demonstrations of kindness. Be specific and acknowledge actual examples of your child’s moments of being kind.
5. Be Understanding To Your Child’s Needs
Teach your child that it is both normal and healthy to acknowledge our personal needs. Put aside your current activity, job, or task, recognize the physical or emotional need, and address how to meet the need. “I get sleepy too after I finish a hard job. Let’s go take a nap to help us rest away the tired.” Read more here.
6. Promote Emotional Literacy
Many schools are now employing life-skills programs such as Stephen Covey’s Leader In Me. The principles of these programs are incorporated as part of school norms, expectations, and curriculum. Become familiar with the program used at your child’s school and reinforce these lessons at home. If your child’s school has yet to implement a social and emotional health program, don’t be shy to contact the school’s administration or PTA to request that one be started.
Volunteering your time, energy, and even money models to children how to be grateful for what they have and how to practice selflessness in a world that otherwise teaches us to take, take, take.
8. Celebrate Differences
If you don’t demonstrate to your child how to be comfortable around people with special needs or those who otherwise look different from what we’re used to seeing, the time will soon come that he or she doesn’t know how to act in these situations. Lack of information and misunderstandings are the foundation of discrimination and intolerance. Instead, look for natural opportunities to openly discuss differences, acceptance, and tolerance.
9. Caring For Pets
If it’s right for your family, pet ownership is a very rewarding way to help children learn how to be giving, gentle, empathetic, and how to care for others.
In a world of conditions and rules, show your children the power of forgiveness. Use moments of being wronged, hurt, or otherwise mistreated to practice forgiveness in your own life so your children can see that you are a person who practices unconditional love. If your children know that, no matter what, they can always turn to you without fear of losing your love, they will always find their way back to you for guidance and counsel and they will also extend forgiveness to those around them.
Travel can be a fantastic way to help children understand both their smallness and greatness in our world as well as lessons of cultural appreciation and understanding.
12. Encourage Stand-Out Performance
Teach your children to seek greatness in their interests and pursuits. But even more than seeking out greatness for personal interests, teach children to be kind for the sake of being kind and not for getting attention. “If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals”- J.K. Rowling. Read more from The Parenting Team at Today.com.