How to raise kind kids
The developmental transition between infancy and childhood is no easy task. During this time children go through major motor, intellectual, social and emotional changes. They understand much more speech than they can actually verbalize. This leads to frustration which often expresses itself in biting, hitting and other seeming aggressive behaviors.
David Schonfeld, MD says, “The desire to help is innate. At first children like to help others because it helps them get what they want. Next, they do so because they get praise. Finally, they begin to anticipate the needs of others, and it becomes intrinsically rewarding to do nice things for people in their lives.”
The skill of being aware of others and helping them is a born of natural inclination, and grows and develops with encouragement, practice and modeling from parents. Babies will imitate what they see as you model kind words, touching gently, using your words, using a calm voice, helping others and sharing your things.
3 simple ways to fuel your toddlers’ desire to help:
These really simple things that toddlers naturally love to do will allow them to experience the intrinsic “feel good” of doing something that helps someone else. And as you do them together, you’re helping him towards several important developmental milestones…
- First is the understanding that he is a person distinct from others around him and that others may have a different perspective and different feelings.
- Second is the ability to recognize feelings in themselves and in other people.
- Third is being able to regulate his own emotional responses.
Those are some pretty big tasks so I’m sure you can imagine that it will take a while!
Teaching your child social skills is not a smooth and easy that builds daily. Instead you’ll see it one day and not the next, then again for a couple of days. It’s usually a back and forth process until a new skill is mastered.
Keep encouraging your toddler to help. Make it fun, playful and positive.
As they move towards the preschool years you’ll build on the foundation of “thinking of others” which will develop into a kid who is able to relate to and play with their peers.
The kindness you show your child every day is exactly what he needs to grow and learn! 😍
Until next time,
National Association for The Education of Young Children