If you have a toddler or a preschooler you can understand how important it is to build kindness in the formative years. With four children, ranging from 5 to young adult ages, I know first hand how beneficial this focus in parenting can help you on a daily basis.
In addition to teaching my children great scriptures to aid them in their natural tendencies that this age group faces, I implemented other things in building kindness in toddlers that proved to be beneficial.
How to Build Kindness in the Formative Years
Building kindness in toddlers and preschoolers is such an easy task, if you are consistant at the start of seeing the opposite in their actions. If you start after bad habits are already formed, you will have a harder task in front of you, but still one that can be accomplished. Regardless of where you are with your toddlers or preschoolers, these tips can really help build kindess in them.
- Teach Vocabulary in Context – Only use the word or derivatives when working on building a character trait, so the toddler can begin building an understanding of what the word means. For example, “Suzie, you are being so ‘kind’ to share your toys with Bobby.” And the opposite, “Suzie, you are being ‘unkind’ (or not kind) when you don’t share your toys with Bobby.” Repetition of using the word and its derivatives, in different situations, helps the youngest of child to understand its meaning and the actions associated with the words.
- Play games for Illustration – Play is a strong teachers and one that easily can be used to teach toddlers the concept of the character trait being worked on. Consider this twist of these game that can be fun and exciting for the whole family to play: everyone sits in a circle (like in Hot Potato or Duck, Duck, Goose) and you have an object that will be passed from person to person. You will need one person who sits out and is blind folded or cannot see who has the object in their hand. The group in the circle will pass the object around while the ‘person in charge’ tells them to ‘be kind’. As in Hot Potato, they want to move the object quickly. When the ‘person in charge’ wants the object to stop, they would say ‘be unkind’ and the person holding the object must hold it and not ‘share’ it. That person is out and becomes the new ‘person in charge’. You can do the same idea with Duck, Duck, Goose, but change the words to Kind, Kind, Unkind.
- Great books for Kindness – My favorite character building books are Captain Kind from Character Classics and Character Sketches
- Always Praise Kindness – A child thrives on praises, so don’t underestimate the power of pointing out the smallest acts of kindness. The same should also be said of pointing out unkind acts as well and having appropriate consequences for the undesired acts.
Remember, consistency is key to success in building kindness in toddlers and preschoolers.
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