Five Tips for Teaching Kids Kindness
Educators are focused on teaching students a number of important things—from math and reading to arts and science. But some important skills, such as kindness, are often overlooked.
Let’s look at some tips for teaching kids kindness and explore how a master’s degree in education can help educators teach their students important life skills.
- Read a Variety of Stories
Dr. Patty Costello was determined to find a way to promote kindness in children. As the program director for Walden’s BS in Psychology program, she knew that research indicated that even young children exhibited signs of bias that could lead to hateful behavior. To address this problem, she recommends reading stories to children that show characters of different races, cultures, backgrounds, and genders. She suggests exposing children to a variety of pro-social situations through books and literacy. She has even used her research to publish a children’s book about embracing diversity.1 All of this is done in hopes of eliminating bias and ultimately helping influence children to be kinder.
- Model Kind Behavior
Children learn as much from example as from being explicitly taught something in a lesson. One great teaching strategy to help children understand kindness is simply to model kind behavior.2 If teachers are setting the example and being kind to colleagues, parents, and students, children are likely to learn from that example.
- Get Kids Involved
Another tip for teaching kids kindness is to get them involved in doing kind acts—and there are plenty of ways to do so.3 Students can organize a volunteer activity, raise money for worthy causes, or collect food for a local pantry. Any of these activities can help children feel good about helping others, which is a powerful motivator. Teachers can also ask students to describe a time when they were on the other side of an act of kindness, and how they felt about it. Any way educators can get kids actively involved in an act of kindness is a great way to teach them to be kind to others.
- Manage Destructive Feelings
Just like adults, kids have strong emotional reactions to the events around them. If an event is perceived as negative, children may have strong emotions that drive them to angry behavior. A great teaching strategy is to help children acknowledge that their feelings are okay and that there are positive ways to cope with them.4 Teaching children to stop and breathe for a few seconds can help them manage strong negative feelings and learn kindness in difficult situations.
- Reward Big Acts of Kindness
One study shows that kids appear to value high achievement or happiness over caring for others. Scholars suggest this is because adults emphasize these things more.5 One teaching strategy educators can use to reinforce the importance of kindness is to reward big acts of kindness in the same way they would reward achievements. This does not mean rewarding every nice thing a child does, just acts that are truly uncommon and worthy of praise.6 Making kindness as praiseworthy as any other achievement is a great way to encourage kids to be kind.
Teachers can play a critical role in promoting kindness. Earning an online MS in Education can help them gain insight into building a supportive learning community that motivates and engages. It’s also a great way to attain the skills and experience they need to further their career while continuing to work full time.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Education degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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