Motherhood Parenting

How to Raise Your Child To be Kind

Raising Kind Kids

Somehow along the way, it’s become  tolerated to be unkind in this world.  I find this incredibly ironic given that I’ve seen more, now than ever, that we need to be more tolerant, teach love not hate and be more kind.  I see kindness marches, protests against violence and hundreds of social media posts about being kind, but yet here we are, continuing to be mean to one another.  Social media has made this easier, as we are able to hide behind our screens. I’ve felt more than ever that kindness and making the world a better place starts in the home.  Current events have my anxiety higher than ever, worried about what our future world looks like. But when I take a step back, I recognize I can’t change anyone but myself and here’s how I plan to change things for me and my family.  I am hopefully optimistic that starting small can turn into something bigger. Wouldn’t it be great to have the kid that everyone talks about being the “nice one” or the “kind one”, the one who is known for helping the undeserving. Want to join me? Since I’m not an expert in this area, I turned to two of my trusted friends who know more about this topic than I do. My friend and former colleague, Ashley Luaders Patek, MS, OTR/L is a positive parenting educator who contributed to this post. For more information about her and her services, visit her website Guided Parenting Solutions.

1. Work on yourself

We have ALL heard “they are watch”, meaning our littles are watching us.  Remember that old saying “monkey see, monkey do”? This is why it is so important to watch our own behavior first and foremost.  Are we mirroring kindness?   I know for me, I’ve been convicted by this question? I’m I doing the best I can? Do I want them to grow up to be like me, or do I want better for them?  Truth #1, I’m not the best example.  I screw up!  I get easily offended, I yell at my husband, I allow past wounds to stir up emotions inside me that come out in the worst way. I have HORRIBLE road rage, like really bad, I like to say I’m just a superior driver, learning to drive in Chicago, but the truth is, I pretty much cuss out the car in front of me, like every single day.  I’m inpatient in the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru and even more impatient at the Walmart checkout.  You get the picture, I’m not the best example, so if I want my kids to become better people, some of the learning has to start with me.  How do I become a kinder person!? I’m someone who is very interested in personal development, so beginning in my mid-twenties, I started to see a counselor for individual therapy.  Once I got started, I fell in love with counseling and will always choose to keep going as an investment in my future. Truth #2, I’ve realized that because of deep wounds that I’ve carried with me for a long time, I’ve demonstrated inappropriate reactions and over the top or exaggerated responses which has affected my friendships, marriage and relationships with my children.  It’s a journey for me and it will probably never be complete, but I keep working and trying so I can be the best version of myself. Once I became a mom, I realized that I couldn’t just “wing” parenting.  I found myself tired, worn out and driving a wedge between me and my kids. It wasn’t because I wasn’t trying, it was that I did not have the tools I needed to make my home the place I wanted it to be.

2. Reach out for help with parenting.

I went to school for 4 years undergraduate and 2 years of graduate school to learn my trade as a Speech Language Pathologist. I spent hours, learning, observing, practicing, critiquing and perfecting my trade before ever seeing a real person on my own. I still remember the first swallow evaluation (yes, I evaluate human beings swallowing as a career)! I was terrified and I asked my colleagues advice before ever making a single decision. Years and years of continuing education requirements and self learning have gone into my career and I still don’t know everything. You know how many parenting classes I’ve taken? ZERO. Literally. None. Not one. The most important job I’ll ever do in my life and I’ve been given no education, no training and no expectation to keep learning. No one even taught me how to change a diaper. I got some instruction in how to breastfeed (but this consisted of about 5 minutes) and that’s it. I got some instruction on how to keep my baby alive but absolutely no education on how to raise my kids or help them become the best people they could be. Truth #3, it didn’t take long for me to realize I didn’t know what I was doing and needed help. I’m always striving to do better cause I struggle in this area, a LOT!  After searching “parenting tips for toddlers” more times than I can count, I found positive parenting. What is positive parenting? Positive parenting is a model that encourages consistent, developmentally appropriate, non violent guidance to raise your children into successful, well adjusted kids.  Kids who are raised in homes with positive parenting ideals generally have higher levels of empathy, confidence, resilience and compassion.  Schools have studied this as it pertains to anti-bullying for years.  When I look at those adjectives, emphatic, confident, resilient and compassionate, aren’t those ALL the things we SO badly want for our children to be? So how do I achieve this?  I did my research and reached out to many moms who I trust and found there is so many resources available.  Here are some of the most popular resources available.

Read Books

Top Recommended books  
  1. Peaceful Parenting: Happy Kids  2. No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame 3. Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide 4. The Whole Brain Child 5. Mindset
If you have read these and still need direction, here are some of our other favorites

Check out Websites and Follow Blogs

A friend and former colleague of mine, Ashley Luaders Patek, MS, OTR/L, is a parent educator and runs her own positive parenting business, Guided Parenting Solutions which has some great information.  You can find out more about her, her services and her blog here

Some of my other favorite websites that I find helpful include Positive Parenting Solutions. This is a course you can purchase but she also has free podcasts and other resources for you.  In addition, I often check out Love and Logic which always has up to date articles and resources for parents and educators. My favorite blogs include, Mindful Generation, Bounce Back Parenting, Raised Good and, Aha Parenting Here are some other favorites that many of my friends follow:


Free Resources to Grab

3. Help your Kids become Emphatic, Compassionate and Self-Confident

Empathy and Compassion According to parenting experts, young babies are capable of emotional empathy, a great example is when babies cry because another baby in the room is crying. Around ages 3-4, children begin to develop a sense of cognitive empathy.  This means they begin to understand that other people have feelings too. Reading is an excellent way to help kids learn about and develop empathy.  Interactive books in particular, help the children to feel like they are part of the stories.  When children connect to stories, they learn to connect with the characters and their feelings. Alison Manahan, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Speech Language Pathologist who specializes in early intervention, working with children ages 2-6 in a clinic in St. Louis. She is also a Usborne book consultant and helped me with a post Teaching Kids Empathy and Compassion through Books, recommending interactive books that focus on building the skills children need to learn empathy and compassion. Self-Confidence Self-confidence is very important and the work needs to start when they are young.  When kids are confident in themselves, they are much more likely to try new things and stand up to injustice, not just for themselves, but others as well. Confidence boosting ideas include the following:
  • allowing kids to do simple/age appropriate chores (win for mom :-)),
  • providing choices,
  • allowing kids to make age appropriate mistakes,
  • avoid calling children names even sarcastically,
  • don’t draw comparisons between your kids
  • spend one-on-one time with your kids
We have been trying most of these at our house and it really is amazing the change I’ve seen in my kids, particularly my daughter. She gains so much confidence from simple chores and one-on-one time with me and/or my husband. Simple tasks such as cutting the vegetables needed for dinner or helping to clear the table after dinner are great chores to give young kids. I hope you have enjoyed this post!  Diving into positive parenting has helped me to parent with more love and logic.  

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