Teaching Kindness at Home

{We are thrilled to have partnered with Kinderberry Hill for this post – their Education Coordinator, a mom herself, has some timely tips for encouraging kindness over the holiday season.}


 

Teaching Kindness at Home | Twin Cities Moms Blog

As this special time of year, our thoughts turn towards helping others. One of the most important gifts we can give to our children is to teach them to give back. By being intentional about helping others as a family, we can begin teaching kindness and generosity to children. And just like any lesson for children, explaining, modeling and reinforcing these qualities can help ensure success.

Model Kindness

First, begin by modeling kindness regularly. Draw attention to the little acts of kindness you do every day (i.e. opening doors, saying “good morning”, even letting others merge in traffic). Talk about the positive responses your acts create. Making your own kindness known tells your children it is important and should be part of everyday life.

Teaching Kindness at Home | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Talk About It

Next, talk with your child about times they have needed help. Who helped them? How did that make them feel? List times when neighbors or friends have been kind to your own family. Let your children know how appreciative you are for these gestures. Discussions like these will better help little ones understand not only how it feels to need help, but appreciation for receiving kindness as well.

Share Talents, Time and Treasures

Finally, let the brainstorming begin! Talents, time and treasures are great gifts for children to give. Ask them what they consider to be their talents (the answers might surprise you!). Brainstorm ways your children can use these talents to bring happiness to others. Begin exploring local organizations looking for volunteer time. You may find yourself struggling with what to expose children to and what to protect them from. This will be a personal choice for your family, but keep in mind the more freedom and command you give children in this experience, the more rewarding it will be.

Teaching Kindness at Home | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Simple Acts of Kindness

A few examples of ways children can give back might include:

  • baking cookies for a loved one
  • sending a card or picture in the mail, perhaps to someone who is sad or lonely, or just missing your family
  • donating their own toys, clothing and books
  • picking up sticks in a neighbor’s yard and raking or shoveling for older children
  • simply singing a song to make someone smile.

However your children decide to ‘give back’, be sure to highlight how it will make others feel and discuss their own satisfaction in giving. Reinforce the idea that helping others makes ourselves, as well as others, feel good!

 

The Spirit of Giving

At Kinderberry Hill, each year we host a “Spark the Spirit” event for children and their parents. Families move from station to station and engage in simple activities such as coloring placemats for Meals on Wheels and creating “heart cards” for sick children.

One new activity everyone thoroughly enjoyed was ‘sending hugs’ (below). The students at our event shared much discussion and excitement about who would receive their special hugs. My own children were both certain their creations would REALLY make someone’s day. This is what it is all about. Children thinking of others and wanting to make them happy – success!

Best wishes to you and yours as you explore the many ways your family can spread kindness and cheer this holiday season.

Send a Hug!

Teaching Kindness at Home | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Instructions:

  1. Stamp or trace two handprints onto cardstock.
  2. Cut around the handprints.
  3. Cut a length of ribbon and attach one end to each handprint to make your hug.
  4. Place your completed hug in the mail for a lucky recipient or research local organizations with your children and talk about others who might like a hug right now.

Talking Points:

Talk about how hugs make us feel. When we get a hug, it can help us feel better, relax, or calm our worries. It can also make us feel loved and cared for.

  • Do you like getting hugs? Why?
  • If you could send a hug through the mail who would you send one to?
  • How do you think the person will feel when they get your hug in the mail?

Sara Reichstadt is the Education Coordinator for the six NAEYC-accredited Twin Cities Kinderberry Hill Child Development Centers.  Sara earned a bachelor’s degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota, where she trained in the Shirley G. Moore Lab School.  Sara, who has been with Kinderberry Hill since 1999, has taught in infant, toddler and preschool classrooms as well as serving in management positions.  As Education Coordinator, Sara helps implement curriculum, offer classroom support and conduct teacher trainings.  Sara is also a MNCPD (Minnesota Center for Professional Development) registered trainer in the SEEDS of Early Literacy Program.  She is passionate about early education and helping children, teachers and families.  Sara has two young children and knows firsthand the importance of a quality early education.

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