New research from Harvard’s Making Caring Common Project offers suggestions on how to raise kind children.

I read this with interest because recently, in a deep conversation about our strengths and weaknesses as parents, I shared with a friend that my biggest hope for my child is she be kind.

As parents of only children, these hopes are also struggles. At home, there are not the teachable moments that happen when siblings learn to share, to give space, to speak kindly, and to know when to offer a reassuring hug.

This summer, our family shared childcare with some old friends. I’m learning a lot watching how the three six year old girls negotiate wanting to be kind and wanting to get their own way. They bicker over who gets to go first and who sits where in the car, but for the most part, they treat each other with kindness (which at this age involves brutal honesty).

Having seen my daughter interact with peers, it became clear that talking about friendship helps us talk about kindness.

Re-reading our longtime favorite books, Library Lion and The Circus Ship, we now talk about what makes a good friend, what we do for friends, and what kinds of rules can be broken in what circumstances.

For our small family living in rural Vermont, we rely on our friends and our books for helping to teach acceptance and empathy – we are lucky there are so many good ones!

One response to “If you’re a parent and… you’re teaching kindness

  1. As a parent of an only child I found it easy to teach my child to be kind just by making kindness a part of our lives. As a small child, he would bring the haridresser a flower to thank her for cutting his hair. He learned to bring a gift when going to someone’s house. He always took a younger child into his protection at day care. He was always the first one to come and comfort a playmate who got hurt. Kindness is a wonderful character trait.

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