How do you encourage your children to be kind and have empathy for those around them?
According to Beverly Anderson, executive director for Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and Wauwatosa, “It’s important to remember that children need to learn what being kind and helpful is all about. Therefore, as parents, we need to serve as role models in developing these important virtues in our children.”
Anderson says there are several things you can do to make a difference in the way your children interact with those around them.
According Anderson, “Children need to learn from early on that, when you are part of a family, you help each other out. This could include setting the table to help get ready for dinner or helping put laundry away after it comes out of the dryer.”
She also says that you should take time every day to show kindness to your children and those you interact with in front of your children.
“Thank your children and others for helping you. Show appreciation for good behavior or random acts of kindness. And, recognize when your children or others put forth extra effort,” says Anderson.
“Offer compliments for little things. When your children hear you spreading kindness, they will start to emulate your behavior. Be sure to praise them for it. If your children forget to say their magic words, gently remind them. Over time, it will become a natural part of their behavior not only toward family members but others as well.”
Finally, Anderson says that it’s important to celebrate special days in your family’s lives from birthdays and anniversaries to Father’s Day and Mother’s Day.
“All of these occasions provide the perfect opportunity to take time out from our hectic lives to show kindness to others and let them know how grateful we are to have them in our lives.”
In Your Neighborhood
Anderson suggests that when a new family moves into your neighborhood, you and your children bake them a treat, and then go over as a family to introduce yourselves. This teaches your children how to be good neighbors and kind individuals.
Another great idea is to have your family help someone in your neighborhood who is elderly, injured, or handicapped. Many times these individuals need some assistance with lawn care or household projects.
“Taking the time to do a few random acts of kindness with your children goes a long way in leaving a lasting impression about how easy it is to be kind to others,” says Anderson.
In Your City
Anderson suggests that families identify one local nonprofit organization that helps those less fortunate to support each year. This could include a homeless shelter, an elderly care facility, or a local food bank. Then, as a family, make it a goal to do something kind for this organization each season.
“Donate the clothing and toys your family has outgrown, bake treats for the people from this organization, or stop by to visit to show your children first-hand how good it feels to help others. It will be a rewarding experience for your entire family which will instill the importance of kindness for years to come.”
Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.
Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers free Parenting Talks and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.
The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.