Kindness is an aspirational quality – but research shows it also has many benefits, including a greater sense of belonging.
“Raising kind kids has many benefits, both physical and mental,” explains Laura Lamminen, Ph.D., ABPP, a board-certified pediatric psychologist with Children’s Health℠ and Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern. “Kindness is good for the heart; it builds self-confidence and increases happiness.”
One of the best ways to teach kindness is to model that behavior. Sending a postcard to someone just to say hello or bringing in a neighbor’s trash cans are simple deeds that a child will notice.
“Kindness is contagious. When kids see someone being kind, they want to pay it forward,” says Dr. Lamminen.
It’s never too early to instill these healthy, kind characteristics in children. Here are simple ways to encourage kindness in kids:
1. Forge a connection with your child
From the beginning, work to form a bond and attach with your child. This can be simple gestures like snuggling with your child and giving kisses – making time to connect. Also, recognize your child’s needs and validate their feelings.
2. Help your child develop prosocial behaviors
Accepting, helpful and cooperative behaviors improve a child’s social interaction, relationship, and acceptance among his or her peers. Help your child balance their own needs with the needs of others and recognize their positive efforts.