Teaching kindness and empathy to preschoolers
In a world where bullying and youth mental health are significant concerns, it becomes imperative for caregivers, parents, and teachers alike to foster a culture of kindness and empathy in children at an early age. Kids ‘R’ Kids shares the role of compassion and empathy in an individual's success and how caregivers can help build this quality in children.
Understanding and respecting another person’s perspective is the foundation for a kind and compassionate character. “Empathy is hardwired in us from birth through what's known as the mirror-neuron system, and we intuitively feel what others feel,” explains psychiatrist Kelli Harding, M.D.
- promotes kindness, cultivates empathy and understanding between individuals, leading to stronger relationships;
- fosters trust in relationships wherein all individuals feel genuinely valued -- for who they are and what they contribute as unique individuals;
- improves health, social competence, self-esteem, and even happiness;
- helps children succeed in social settings, and connect and be involved with others more meaningfully; and
- prevents bullying and fosters harmonious relationships.
Tips for Teaching Kindness
- Model Kindness And Love
Children imitate their caregivers. So the best way to teach kindness is to practice it. When children observe their parents or teachers being kind to others, they also imitate this behavior. Service begins at home or in classrooms and spreads out into the world. Simple gestures like showing affection with hugs and kisses and saying please and thank you around the house greatly impact children. Moreover, it’s never too early to talk about kindness and generosity with children.
- Encourage Kind Habits
Kindness and empathy are abstract concepts. But connecting them with concrete verbs and actions such as sharing, volunteering, giving, including comforting, supporting, championing, compromising, and listening, helps understand what kindness means. Helping a family member with a chore or offering a seat to an older person are great examples to share. These habits are intertwined with etiquettes and gracious actions such as saying please and thank you.
- Inspire Their Imagination
To be in another person’s shoes and have the ability to empathize with another human being is a powerful skill. Inspiring children to imagine another person’s situation and feelings can help them resolve complicated real-life social problems as they grow up. Asking questions such as, “She fell and scratched her knee, what should we do?” Pretend play is also an effective way to practice empathy with kids.
- Help Them See The Effects Of Kindness
Various studies have shown that toddlers enjoy giving treats more than receiving them because giving allows them to witness the joy a recipient feels due to the generosity. Children are hardwired to be kind. All they need is encouragement and the right environment. To teach them kindness and empathy, caregivers can involve them in activities where they can see the impact that they are making. Activities such as writing gratitude letters or thank you notes and donating food to charities allow them to see the effect of kindness.
Why Kids ‘R’ Kids?
The “Hug First, Then Teach” philosophy defines every aspect of what Kids ‘R’ Kids, Circa Fishhawk, stands for. Unlike many daycare centers or childcare providers, its methodology is a whole-child approach. It constantly strives to strengthen and encourage every child’s emotional, intellectual, social, and physical well-being through the expertise of its childcare providers and a unique partnership with parents.
Kids ‘R’ Kids International is accredited by AdvancED®, the world’s largest education community, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS/CASI). SACS/CASI is an accreditation division of AdvancED®. This accreditation ensures that the high accreditation standards are met and exceeded.