7 Simple but Life-Changing Ways to Teach Kids to Love Others
In 2015, nearly one out of every four students (22%) said he or she was bullied throughout the school year.
But in the battle against bullying, are we focusing on the right things?
Children learn acceptable behavior by imitating what they see. Parents, teachers, and peers all have an impact, for better or for worse. Instead of solely teaching children to limit bullying behavior, let’s also show them how to actively demonstrate love to others.
Read on for 7 simple ways to teach your child to love others every day.
1. Really listen to your child.
Listening is the foundation of a loving relationship and is one of the best ways to show that your child is worthy of your time. If your phone steals your attention during conversations with your child, you might think it’s not a big deal. But is that how your child sees it?
When your child learns to listen, he will have a leg up in building a quick rapport with others that can turn into lasting relationships.
Teachers: show-and-tell in school is a good time to practice listening skills. Invite children to join in a semicircle on linking stools so they’ll have an easier time paying attention to the speaker.
2. Learn to give others the benefit of the doubt.
Imagine you’re driving your child to gymnastics in heavy traffic and another car cuts you off right before an exit. How do you react? If the first words out of your mouth are obscenities, your child notices. The next time another child grabs his toy or cuts him in line for a snack, how will he react?
The next time you get cut off in traffic, breathe. Then, let your child know that you’re giving that person the benefit of the doubt. Who knows? Perhaps that person was on her way to the hospital. There are many reasons why others display their worst behavior, but it doesn’t mean you should return the favor. Your child will learn how to see the best in others, instead of automatically assuming the worst. That’s showing some love (Hey, we didn’t say it would be easy!).
3. Skip gossip.
You may not think of yourself as the “town gossip,” and you probably aren’t. But here’s the thing: every time you talk negatively about others, you teach your child that it’s OK to undermine and potentially hurt others.
If your child must work through a relationship conflict with a friend at school, it’s OK to talk about it. Just show him how to talk about the issue without “trash talking” the offender. It’s possible—and will show your child that it’s important to be kind and show love to others regardless of the situation. This can keep a small problem from becoming a big one!
4. Cultivate emotional intelligence.
Nobody likes a tantrum. Period. On the flip side, if you teach your child to suppress all of his emotions, he won’t learn how to manage them. How to proceed?
First, learn to pay attention to your own emotions. When you need a time out, take one! Show your child negative emotions are the warning lights on a car dashboard, not a scary unpredictable black hole to avoid. When your child accepts his own emotions, he’ll be better equipped to notice and support others. It’s called “emotional intelligence,” and it could be the key to your child’s future success.
5. Treat everyone equally.
Let’s say you’re eating out and your waiter is rather rude. Will your child see you treat the waiter differently than you treated his teacher? Do you show one more consideration and love than the other? Make sure your child sees you treat others with equal respect—no matter what.
It’s easy to show love to people who are lovable. When you show love to the unlovable people, it makes an even bigger impact on your child.
6. Encourage “random acts of kindness.”
When your calendar’s bursting and your wallet’s thin, a “random act of kindness” feels impossible sometimes. But imagine if, during that tough time, someone did something kind for you. Perhaps someone bought your drink at Starbucks, mowed your overgrown lawn, or offered to help with household chores. On a scale of one to overjoyed, how loved would you feel?
Sit down with your child and think of different “random acts of kindness” you could employ to make your friends, family, classmates, teachers, or neighbors feel loved. (Psst…Random Acts of Kindness Day is February 17!)
7. Show him you love him even when he behaves poorly.
This one’s big—and pairs well with #2. Let’s imagine for a moment that your child is kicking your driver’s seat. You ask him (nicely) to stop kicking the back of your driver’s seat. He refuses, and kicks more gleefully.
You might be feeling angry, but you still love your child. Show them that’s true by using words carefully. Use “Your current behavior is a problem,” not “You are a bad kid.” The latter can shake your child’s self esteem, and may actually encourage him to own the “bad” label. When you address the behavior in a more loving way, your child will be more likely to respond back in love and change his behavior—the key to real growth.
How do you teach your child to love others? Let us know in the Facebook comments section!