It is daunting when you think about how to teach kindness and empathy to kids in this age of entitlement. Fortunately, it is still possible with just a little thought and consideration each day. In fact, you can jumpstart your parenting game if you start thinking about others in general.
Being other’s oriented as a family will help your kids to develop a heart of empathy no matter the age because we all have something to give. Check out this post and learn how to teach kindness and empathy despite this “me” world.
How to Teach Kindness and Empathy to Your Kids
1. Pick out gifts for holidays and celebrations. Make sure your child has the opportunity to help pick out a gift for someone else in the family. Perhaps even contribute a little money, if he is older. This will help you and your family focus more on the giving than the receiving part of the holidays.
2. Bake for neighbors or cook for a meal train. This is a great opportunity to spend time together in the kitchen learning how to measure, stir, and pour. Plus it teaches your child to give to others when you are finished with the meal. This is how to teach kindness and empathy to your kids.
3. Pick projects of giving and do it together. Pick a project that will fit in with your family. We loved doing Operation Christmas Child and Angel Tree. Our kids helped us shop for the gifts and deliver them. It was something that became a tradition for many years in our house. In fact, they asked to do it every year.
4. Capitalize on everyday opportunities to give kindness. Encourage your child to make not only his lunch but his sister’s lunch, get a diaper or a bath towel for the baby, or help a sibling who is sick. This will teach your child to think of others inside your family, not just himself.
5. Model empathy. Model the behavior you wish to see. Kids learn more from what you do than what you say. Avoid raising your voice, rolling your eyes, or any other gestures that would make your kids feel unwanted. If you are kind and have empathy, chances are your kids will be kind too.
6. Read books that teach empathy and kindness. Choose picture books that emphasize character qualities such as empathy and kindness. Read them out loud to all your kids. Talk about the characters in the story, and how they showed kindness. Or what happened to the ones who were not.
7. Read Bible stories that show kindness. Emphasize that God tells us to love our neighbor. That includes family and friends. Reinforce that you also love them and so does Jesus. Let them know how happy it makes Jesus when they do nice things for each other. This is such a great idea on how to teach kindness and empathy to your kids.
8. Positive reinforcement. Catch your kids doing something kind and compassionate. Make a big deal about it, even if it is small. Your other kids will hear it and want to get the same kind of praise too. Don’t forget to thank your children when they do nice things.
9. Volunteer/Missions. You don’t have to leave the country to volunteer or do missions. Encourage your child to shovel your neighbor’s driveway, plant flowers, volunteer in the church nursery together, or encourage her to give her artwork to a sick person. When your kids are older, do a family mission trip. We went to the Texas border for many years. It was the best thing we ever did as a family.
10. Donate toys and clothes. Go through your child’s room together and gather all the toys, stuffed animals, clothes, and shoes that your child no longer uses. Bag it up and donate it to a local charity such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. This act of kindness will teach empathy to your kids by actively giving to others.
11. Buy gift cards for others at school or church. Get a bunch of $5 gift cards from Starbucks and have your child give them out to the custodians, cooks, secretaries, teachers, and lunch ladies at school. Or give them to the Sunday School teacher at church. This act of love is how to teach kindness and empathy to your kids.
12. Money jar. Place a money jar in the kitchen for everyone in the family to donate their pocket change through the year. When the holidays come, decide as a family what to do with the money. Then spend the day together doing the mission project.
13. Food donation for the homeless. There is one area in my town that typically has homeless people asking for money or food. Several times we have put together a care package with water, canned food, peanut butter, etc. and kept it in our car to give to them when we drove by. This is how to teach kindness and empathy to your kids, and it’s easy.
14. Gifts for the community. Make a meal, bake goodies, or make artwork for your local fire/ambulance department, your child’s dentist or doctor, mailman, or trash collector. Then deliver it together. You and your child will be blessed when you see their faces as they receive the gifts.
15. Lemonade stand. Help your kids with a lemonade stand. Have them donate or tithe the earnings to a family who is hurting, your local church, or a cause dear to your children’s heart. This is such a good way to teach empathy using their own money.
16. Prayer. Pray with your kids before bedtime. Spend time talking about people you need to include in your prayers. Find the name of the missionaries from your local church and include them on the list. Having a heart of prayer is how to teach kindness and empathy
17. Work at a shelter. One of the most impactful things we did as a family was work at a women’s shelter on Thanksgiving Day. My kids were exposed to women and children who were victims of domestic abuse and had no place to go. The drive home from the shelter was always quiet as the kids processed what they saw. It made them so much more grateful for what they had.
Teaching Empathy Is Not Easy In This Entitled World
It is hard to teach empathy to your kids when we have the most entitled generation ever.
Fortunately, you can with a little extra thought and planning. Furthermore, you can have children who think of others not only now but throughout their lives. One of the easiest things to do is model empathy every day and your kids will repeat what they see.
Don’t get discouraged if they are not feeling so kind right now. It takes time to mold a child’s heart. Parenting is more of a marathon, not a race. Stay in there for the long haul. One day you will see fruit if you keep implementing these tips. One day it will pay off. I promise.
You can learn how to teach kindness and empathy to your kids. It just takes a little thought. What do you do in your family to teach empathy and kindness?
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