Raising Good Humans: How to Teach Kindness to Children

No one wants to raise a child who is a jerk, but figuring out how to raise a kind child isn't always a clear path.  

Helen Hadani, PH.D, Educational Advisory Board member for The Goddard School and Director of Research for the Center for Childhood Creativity, has some advice about how to steer children in the right path towards being good people.   

Talk about different emotions

You can find these moments with your child while engaging in activities such as reading a book or watching a movie in which the characters experience a range of emotions (positive and negative). Research shows an important link between parents who encourage their children to talk about emotions and helpful behaviors.

Provide opportunities to give others a turn

While young children are naturally inclined to help others, research shows that altruistic (helping) behaviors are strongly influenced by social interactions. Playing games that involve turn taking or back-and-forth actions (rolling a ball back and forth) can increase children’s tendency to help others.

Encourage empathy

Children are more likely to be kind to others when they can take the perspective of others. Encourage your children to think about how others feel when they see someone experiencing a positive or negative emotion (How do you think she feels after losing her teddy bear?).

Be the example they need

Imitation is a powerful mode of learning, especially in early childhood. When children see their parents and others around them help, share, and be kind to others, they are more likely to model those behaviors.

Make it fun

Parents can also encourage kind behavior by promoting anti-bullying and teamwork at home.  Resources parents find helpful range from books to toys to games.  

DC Superheros:  My First Book of Super Villains:  What is the difference between right and wrong?  Kids are clearly shown the path to kindness by contrasting the bad deeds of super villains with the good deeds of superheros.  

Teach kids early on about different cultures with books like Diwali by Hannah Eliot that teach kids about other cultures from a very young age.  

Books like I'm an Immigrant, Too! help young children understand how countries like the United States and Australia are made up of people who come from all over the world to form one society and bring their unique experiences with them.  

Even young kids can learn how to be mindful with books like Quiet by Tomie dePaola that teach children the importance of being mindful and appreciating the people you are with when you are with them.  

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The book Oliver the Ornament centers on Oliver, who has been with this family since Mom and Dad's very first date. Years later, Oliver, now injured and bullied, still has the magic of Christmas in his heart. The story follows Oliver's excitement for Christmas, his heartbreak, and his determination to overcome all odds to save the day. Oliver, along with his friends, will warm hearts with his kindness, humility, and love for his family and friends.  Get your child his very own Oliver along with the book.  

How Do You See the World from Authentic Agility Games teaches acceptance and tolerance.  It's is an engaging card game that encourages players to go beyond their comfort zone while truly learning how others view the world by asking important questions. This game can be played around the family dinner table or with friends.

Oddbods teaches children to embrace individuality and differences by following the adventures of seven hilarious, very individual, and quirky friends as they survive the perils of everyday life, where ordinary situations spiral into extraordinary events. The Oddbods Buddies interactive plush line underscores the unique personality of each character and reinforces the importance of celebrating difference and individuality.

Huggers from Wild Republic provide small acts of kindness and love.  They are small toys that hug you back and come in every child's favorite animal, not matter what that is.

{ MORE: The Secret to Motherhood? Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable }

How do you help your kids learn how to be kind?

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Raising Good Humans: How to Teach Kindness to Children

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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