My eldest son is 5 and what I have realised is that teaching him to be kind is not always easy. It teaches you a lot about human nature to have children. Although they are loving and innocent, they also can be very selfish. Which of course in terms of our evolutionary psychology makes perfect sense. Survival of the fittest! Look after number 1!
I have to work very hard to teach him how to be considerate of others feelings. I don’t feel I can offer him rewards for being kind and considerate, because then he would do it for the wrong reason. I have to teach him that the feeling of being kind to others is enough.
My main strategy is to praise him profusely whenever I see him being kind. I try to notice when he shares something, or comforts his little brother when he cries. I also try to chat with him when I see someone else doing something kind, and explain why it was a nice thing to do.
So I was very interested when a small start-up company offered to send me some of their Good Egg cards. These cards have a series of good deeds on them, and you can set yourself the challenge of doing as many as possible. They are aimed at older children (13+), and some of them are a bit silly, but I found them quite useful as a conversation starter with my 5 year old. He loves playing with cards, so I let him pick a card out of the deck at random and then we had a chat about the good deed on the card.
The first card he picked said you should give blood. Obviously my 5yo is too young to be donating blood, but it was an interesting topic to discuss with him. I explained why people need to receive blood, why it is important that people donate blood when they can, and how the process works.
Another card says to take your old books to a charity shop. So I was able to chat with him about how charity shops work and why it is nice to let others have things that you no longer need. On top of teaching about kindness, it was also a useful way of increasing his general understanding of the world.
The way in which we all function in society is dependent upon an understanding of how our actions affect the people around us. Unfortunately, in the real world, not everyone remembers that – even sometimes those people who have quite a lot of power to change the world for the better. Remembering to teach our children kindness is one way that parents can make their small contribution, in the hope that the next generation will seek to help instead of win.
I receive the cards for the purposes of review but all opinions and thoughts are my own.