Sick of Spoiled Behavior? How To Raise Kinder Kids
As the holiday season approaches (yes, really, they're already here, whether or not we are ready and believe me, I'm not ready), I've been reflecting on ways that I can encourage a more kind spirit in my kids.
Not just because it's the holidays, of course, but because there is something about the upcoming holiday season that frightens me a little with showing me the stark reality of how spoiled rotten my kids can be. Already, they are in “gimme” mode, asking me how much is too much for Christmas presents and bartering to be allowed to ask for more than three presents.
And I really want my kids to be kinder. Not just because I said so (although that is sometimes a very valid reason) but because they are just naturally more kind.
Luckily, science has some answers for moms like me, looking for a little help in the kindness department. According to some recent insight into the field of behavioral research, here are a few ways that you can encourage your kids to be kinder:
Ask them to consider others' feelings. This might seem like common sense, but it actually is harder than it sounds, because it starts with you. Yup, you, the parent. The next time you're tempted to complain, have a discussion instead with your kids about the person involved. If it's a waitress who is grumpy or a classmate who was mean, hash out some possible scenarios that could be going on their lives. Could it be a bad day? A sickness? Something unexpected that came up in their life? Empathy, it turns out, can be learned, but you have to encourage it.
Keep your kids' expectations low. Hear that, parents? Lazy parenting = better kids. But seriously. I know my husband and I get so frustrated that our kids don't appreciate anything, including that awesome trip to Disney or the homemade waffles I make from scratch every weekend, but really, it's our fault they don't. Because we set the bar so high as “normal”, they have no reason to realize that we are doing anything special.
Don't pay your kids for doing chores. Pitching in around the house is a family responsibility, period. I have to admit this one makes me sad because I totally paid my daughter two bucks last week to clean all the bathrooms in our house and it was worth every last penny. But the key is to make sure that everyone has some kind of standard chore because that's just what families do — they all work together.
Mix it up. I need to focus on this one especially because I think it will make a difference. The Chicago Tribune recommended actually taking your kids somewhere where they can see others in need as individuals. A soup kitchen or other service projects can give your kids a different view of life and help them see the individual plight that will stick in their minds.
How do you try to raise kinder kids?