Children are like modelling clay. They mould into that which they see, hear, observe and learn. Their environment and your way of upbringing moulds them into the person they become as they grow older. And just like a mirror they reflect much of you. So in order to instil good habits in them in an early stage of their life you must become a living example of those habits by practicing them before your child. We all want our kids to be polite, kind, caring and helpful to others. To make them understand the importance of these values we must practice these randomly in front of them and highlight how these made the other people feel happy.
Begin at Home
Show kindness to the little one when he/she has been up to some big trouble disturbing your routine and house work. While reprimanding them try not to be harsh with your words and ask them to help you clear the mess. Once they participate, do appreciate and thank them.
If you have hired domestic help, treat her kindly. Let her have a share of your meal, be it lunch or breakfast, whatever time she is working for you and make sure your toddler is around and watching. When something goes wrong with your maids work chose your words carefully in correcting her and show forbearance. Coin a salutation for her which the child should use when addressing her, like aunty or baji.
If you have any hand-them-downs or new clothing to give away to your maid/driver/servant give them away in a nice packing and let your toddler give away a packet or two to learn not just kindness but also the art of sharing. Discuss with your baby later how happy he/she had made them.
Baby sister/ brother / elderly person at home? They are the best people with whom you can let your toddler interact in everyday matters and learn the art of kindness, sharing and empathy. If your girl grabs back a toy of hers from her baby sibling rudely it’s time to correct her politely. Tell her you think she is a good girl and good people are not rude to others. That she could make her little sister happy by letting her play with the toy and it would be fun to play together.
Be nice to the elders in the family. Be it your Mother/Father-in-Law or your own parents or grandparents. Show love and affection towards them. If they say something which you don’t like, don’t immediately give a reaction, especially not a negative one. Remember your child is watching, no matter how busy he may appear in his play but he is always all ears to the happenings around him. He will learn quickly. If your own behaviour is dry or rude he will meet out the same behaviour to you and others when stopped from doing something wrong. Keeping amicable relations with the elders in the family and showing kindness to them will be emulated positively by your toddler.
Expand Into Outside World
Whenever you are going out with your toddler, whether you are riding in a car or walking, show random acts of kindness to people you meet on the way. If encountered by beggars, do not be rude to them and always keep some change in spare to give away to them. You can also buy some packets of juice or biscuits to give away to poor kids who knock on your cars window at traffic signals. Let your child do the giving away. Appreciate him and say how happy he just made those little kids.
If you find some old neighbours waiting for someone to pick and carry their shopping and other stuff to their home, offer to help along with your child. Do it happily and make it seem like fun to help others. I am sure this will beget much appreciation from the neighbour for your little one making him feel that showing kindness and care brings much happiness to all and especially to one’s own self.
Put out a couple of earthen bowls on your terrace or balcony or in your lawn. Let the child put some bread pieces or dry grains in one and fill the other one with water. Sit in a corner and watch with her how the birds flock around the bowls pecking at the feed and taking a dip in the water. The activity will be fun as well as educating the child in showing care and kindness to the wild animals and birds.
The above discussed are some of the activities which we can practice to set an example for our kids to learn the values of kindness and caring. The act is not limited to just these. It is in fact everything that we do which becomes a benchmark for our kids own emotional as well as character development. If you have any ideas that can help in their character building, do share them with us.