Reblogged from “KindnessU”, see link below:
Is your teenager grouchy? Does your little one have a cold? Research shows that kindness is a sure route to greater happiness and, in some cases, improved health.
Here are five ways to raise kinder kids:
- Model kindness yourself. Kindness can be contagious: when we see someone else perform an act of kindness, we are more likely to feel an impulse to help out, too. Research suggests that altruistic children have at least one parent (usually of the same sex) who deliberately communicates altruistic values to their kids. Similarly, when preschoolers have nurturing caregivers who deliberately model helping others, they tend to be more helpful and verbally sympathetic to other children when they hurt themselves.
- Make kids personally responsible in some way. Four to 13 year olds who were asked to donate their Halloween candy to hospitalized children donated more (and were more likely to make a donation) when they felt personally responsible. Researchers made kids feel responsible when they said things like: “I will be counting on you and you and you…I will put each of your names on the bag of candy I give tomorrow to the hospitalized children” rather than “please give them as many as you want by putting the candies in the box on the table.”
- Don’t reward helping behavior. Very young children who receive material rewards for helping others become less likely to help in the future compared with toddlers who only receive verbal praise or receive no reward at all.
- Be positive. Parents who express positive feelings and use positive, non-coercive discipline raise children who are kinder and more compassionate toward others.
- Expose them to need. Too often we protect our kids from pain and suffering, and in so doing we shelter them from others’ needs. Consider the counterintuitive notion that compassion is a positive emotion strongly correlated with happiness, and provide them with opportunities to feel compassion. Teach kids that this compassion is a gift—it is a way to give their time, attention, and energy to another. Added bonus: When we expose kids to others’ suffering, they often feel both compassion and gratitude.