Most parents consider kindness a must-have trait when they think about raising their children. In a world where hate, bullying, and unkindness is around every corner, it's no wonder that raising children to be the opposite of what is often see in culture is a top priority. Kindness, however, isn't necessarily something that people are born with. Like so many other positive traits, it is learned — passed down from parent to child. Luckily, you can start instilling kindness early. In fact, there are many things you do every day that will make your baby kinder later in life, perhaps without even realizing it.
In watching my 3 year old and 2 year old play, I'm aware that kindness definitely doesn't come naturally to toddlers, middle schoolers, or oftentimes, fully grown adults. For better or worse, people copy what they see from a young age. Luckily, whether kindness comes naturally or not, parents of babies and small children can intentionally demonstrate kindness through the simplest of actions that they likely do already.
Raising kind children in an unkind world often seems like an impossible feat, but like Aesop said in a time long ago but perhaps not so unlike our own, "no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."
1. You Lavish Affection On Them
People often associate the word "spoiled" negatively, but when it comes to your baby, studies show you can't necessarily spoil them in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, according to TIME , raising a "spoiled baby" creates a child who is more considerate, smart, and kind later in life. When you lavish affection on your baby, hugging, kissing, holding, and even smiling at them, you're teaching them that they're worthy of love and in turn capable of loving too.
2. You Provide Structure
It can seem like being compassionate and caring yourself is enough to raise a kind child, but that usually isn't enough. According to Parenting, creating structure in your home, which often looks like predictable bedtimes, discipline when necessary, and placing limits on things teaches your child that negative behavior isn't OK from a young age.
3. You Teach Them Manners And Respect
Teaching older babies them basic manners and demonstrating the same in your day to day conversations is a simple way to show kindness and respect. The aforementioned Parenting article pointed out that manners teach people how to coexist harmoniously and are one of the simplest ways to instill kindness
4. You Empathize With Them
Empathy is a big part of kindness, and it starts young too. Empathizing with your child when they're hurt, frustrated, or even happy will teach them to do the same with others when their older, according to PBS.
5. You Respond To Them When They Need You
According to Attachment Parenting International, the simple act of responding to your baby helps them feel safe, secure, and valuable as they get older. Even if you don't ascribe to other attachment parenting methods, most experts would agree that responding to your baby, no matter how small the need, lays some of the most important foundations for kindness later on.