Do you want to cultivate kindness in your kids? Our last HoneyKids Talk gave us great insights. Take notes, parents!
It’s no secret that we want to raise kind children. After all, being kind makes the world a better place. But in this time of crisis and division, it’s becoming more difficult to create the ideal framework for who our children will become. So how do we foster caring, kind and compassionate qualities in our kids?
During our HoneyKids Talk: The Art of Raising Kind Kids, we learned effective tips and strategies to help us raise kind, altruistic kids, all thanks to our expert panelists: Dr Helen Rader, Elementary School Counselor at ICS, Lance Kershner, Elementary School Principal at ICS, Shamini Ras, Elementary School Counselor at SJII and Maureen Russell, Elementary School Vice Principal at SJII.
Got a burning question and need the answer? Jump to the video section that’s relevant for you!
Speaker introductions – 3.20
The importance of raising kind kids – 8.50
Some ways parents can teach social skills in ‘the moment’ – 9.59
How can we teach children to deal with conflicts? – 13.58
About empathy and perspective-taking skills – 18.33
In what ways parents can understand what children are trying to say and help them navigate social situations? – 22.16
How do we teach our children positive communication? – 24.54
About the virtues program – 29.21
Final takeaways from panelists – 32.45
Q&A – 36.32
It’s all about teaching today’s kids how to care, give and do good. We’ll provide parents with tips on resolving conflicts, practicing mindfulness, and nurturing the essential social and emotional skills to teach kids to create a culture of kindness in their home. You’ll be hearing from experts Dr Helen Rader, Elementary School Counselor at ICS, Lance Kershner, Elementary School Principal at ICS, Shamini Ras, Elementary School Counselor at SJII and Maureen Russell, Elementary School Vice Principal at SJII.
Posted by HoneyKids Asia on Tuesday, October 5, 2021
The art of raising kind kids: TOP EXPERT TIPS
1. It’s important to raise kind kids instead of successful ones
The topic of raising kind kids in a world driven by technology and social media is a growing need and concern for parents and teachers. It’s becoming more and more important to increase resilience in children and empower them with the skills that they need to deal with the unknown. So teaching empathy and responding with kindness is very important for parents to undertake.
Because of today’s ever-changing world, parents are becoming educators more so than ever before for their children. It is being realised that in order to survive the uncertainty and unknowns, it is becoming increasingly necessary to raise kind kids instead of successful ones.
2. Parents need to be role models for their children
Modeling is the most important skill that parents can exhibit for their children. Using the right tone of voice, and words to communicate with each other, will be beneficial for the children in the household.
Modeling kindness and compassion for our children is a must. Children learn what they observe. If we are constantly reminding our children to be kind, but they are observing us doing the very opposite in our daily interactions, our children will view kindness and compassion as unimportant qualities to develop. Conversely, if we openly model these important qualities to others in the presence of our children, the message they take away from that will be loud and clear: Kindness is important, and it is something I see Mommy and Daddy demonstrating every day to everyone we see.
3. Deal with conflicts in a restorative manner
Conflicts are a natural part of life and can be dealt with in a natural way. Taking a restorative approach with children and helping them to reflect on their actions will help them move forward and make amends. For example, for very young children who sometimes hit, we can work on gentleness. For older children, parents can consider empathy, patience and friendliness. It is also very important, even for very young children, to take responsibility for their actions and to own up to mistakes. This requires courage and honesty, and these virtues can be strengthened when dealing with conflicts in a restorative manner.
4. Actions speak louder than words
Kindness is more than simply an outward and superficial action. If we truly want our children to develop kindness and compassion, it starts with them understanding that our words and actions have power. They have the power to build up or to tear down. When they truly understand the impact our words and actions have on others, they begin to demonstrate kindness and compassion as an outward manifestation of their desire to impact others in a positive manner.
5. Active communication is key
A lot of the time, children say a lot! We, as adults, lack the patience, time or focus for the conversation, and understandably so. But because of this, the conversations we have with our children are often underrated. When you really sit down and use the skill of empathic and active listening, you can find out a lot about what your child is thinking and/or feeling.
Using phrases like “I hear that you’ve had a bad day, tell me more” or “I see that you have a sad expression, what happened?” opens the lines of communication between you and your child. This is a great first step!
Instead of saying “you HAVE TO be nice to so and so”, it would be better to say, “you GET TO do something nice for your aunt or grandma” or “You get to clean your room and help mommy because we all want to help each other as a family.” It changes the way children see things. When we feel like we have to do something, it takes the joy out of it! But when we get to do something for someone, that’s a privilege and a wonderful opportunity.
Adding to this, we can then try and help them see the perspectives of others using phrases like “What were you feeling when you did not want to share? How do you think John felt when this happened?” At the crux of everything, children just want to be heard and validated.
Validation does not equal agreement. Validation means that we are telling our kids we are accepting them in a non-judgmental manner and allowing them to be who they are.
6. Make it a point to acknowledge kindness
The characteristics you want to see developing in your children need to be encouraged and praised when you see it happening. A great book for parents is “The Gift of Blessing” by Gary Smalley and John Trent. They talk about projecting a future on your children when you see them doing kind acts. Say things like, “Wow, you really took care of your friend who was hurt by helping her go and sit down. Maybe someday you will be a caring nurse or doctor.” By doing this you are projecting a possible future and encouraging them to continue doing acts of kindness in this way.
It is important for children to receive positive and specific feedback about their kind actions. Children love to hear when they have done something well. When you notice your child demonstrating kindness and compassion, be sure to praise them, but also be specific.
For example, rather than simply saying, “I love how you were really kind just then”, you can be even more specific so your child has a clearer picture of when their kind action was and how it affected the other person. A better way to phrase it: “I love the kind action you demonstrated just then. When you helped the lady in the supermarket to pick up the apples she dropped, you saw a need and responded with kindness. Did you see how happy the lady was when you stopped to help her? Well done!”
Raising kind kids: YOUR QUESTIONS, ANSWERED!
1. My kid gets jealous when other kids get close to her grandparents and mom – doesn’t want to share her toys, doesn’t acknowledge new people when they speak.
Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge our own feelings related to this. Jealousy is a normal part of a child’s development. Reassurance and repetition of love is important to show the child that you are aware of this emotion and you will continue loving them through this. Spending time with them individually may also help ease the jealousy. Another thing to do would be to give them a role of responsibility such as “oh look, John does not have any toys to play with, shall we play together with him?” and then praising them afterwards may help foster some sense of positivity with that action.
2. How can you deal with aggressive and angry behavior with kindness?
First, it is important to set clear boundaries and expectations for children and their behaviour. If it is not explicitly clear to children what behaviours are acceptable or unacceptable, this only enables further negative behaviours. When clear boundaries and expectations are established, there must also be clear consequences for children when their behaviour falls outside of the established expectations.
One of the “kindest” things we can do for children is to give them structure, boundaries, and clear and logical consequences. Research shows that children actually crave structure, predictability, and clear boundaries as it helps them to feel more safe and secure.
It is also important to understand – and help children understand – that their anger or aggressive behaviour has a root cause so that children can learn to communicate how they are feeling in an appropriate manner. They need to understand that feeling angry is okay and perfectly normal, but they need to learn strategies to pinpoint the cause of their anger and to express and deal with their angry feelings in a way that is respectful and appropriate.
When a child has an angry or aggressive outburst, we will not be able to have a “teachable moment” about appropriate behaviour in the midst of this outburst. We can, however, remove the child to a place where he/she can safely continue the outburst until he/she is calm.
Once a child is calm, the adult can then have a gentle, yet direct, conversation about the inappropriate behaviour and help the child to articulate what made him/her angry and discuss appropriate ways of expressing and dealing with their anger in the future.
3. I have an 11 month old at home. What are some strategies I can start using at this age to foster kindness?
To quote Kathy Koch, CEO of Celebrate Kids, be who you want your children to be and teach them who you want them to be. Much is caught and taught. Our actions speak louder than words. Remember our values are visible in our actions and words. If our words don’t match our actions then kids think we are hypocrites. If there is a lack of role modelling, it makes it harder for children to successfully follow instructions even if they want to. Learning new skills isn’t always easy. Changing character is even harder, so without examples of new, positive qualities or behaviours lived out before them, it’s likely that children will fall back into old patterns.
And, a big thanks again to our panelists!
Dr. Helen Rader, Elementary School Counsellor at ICS
Dr. Helen J. Rader has plenty of international experience, having grown up in South America and teaching in South Korea for 27 years. She and her husband joined ICS when they moved to Singapore in 2019. With her professional background as a classroom teacher and counselor, she’s had a lifetime to gather insight into the distinct challenges, global thinking patterns, and broad opportunities afforded to international students.
As the ES counsellor, Dr. Rader addresses and supports the social, emotional, and academic concerns of the entire division’s students. This is done through weekly guidance lessons in each classroom, individual and group counseling, and constant collaboration with teachers and parents to ensure each student’s learning experience is successful.
Dr. Rader employs Solution-Focused Brief Therapy for her Child Centered approach, which focuses on the student’s individual needs at ICS. As a counsellor, her ultimate goal is to support the students so that they can focus in the classroom, maintain positive friendships, manage strong emotions, and overcome their personal daily challenges. Dr. Rader holds three Master’s degrees and an EdD in Educational Leadership.
Lance Kershner, Elementary School Principal at ICS
Lance has over 20 years of international education experience, and has worked in the US, Guatemala, Honduras, Egypt, and Singapore. His experience spans a wide array of educational roles, as an Elementary homeroom teacher, Spanish teacher, literacy coordinator, teacher trainer, and principal.
Lance holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in education, a Certificate of International School Leadership, and DELE (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera) at the near-native level. His international experience has allowed him the opportunity to teach and interact with children of many different ages and cultures, and this has continued to shape his educational philosophy.
Shamini Ras, Elementary School Counselor at SJII
Shamini Ras is SJII’s Elementary School Counsellor with over 10 years of experience in both local and international settings. Shamini specialises in using eclectic and client-centered approaches when engaging with children, and believes that many opportunities must be provided for the child to succeed. She believes that children and their families can be empowered to increase their emotional resilience through the process of counselling.
Shamini loves to learn from other professionals in the field and uses her positive attitude to collaborate with parents and teachers to bring about increased well-being throughout the community. Shamini holds a Master’s degree in Counselling and is pursuing a Doctorate in Psychology. She is inspired daily by the students that she works with and her 10 month-old daughter.
Maureen Russell, Elementary School Vice Principal at SJII
Maureen Russell is the Vice Principal in the elementary school. Maureen has almost 30 years teaching experience with half of these in senior leadership. Prior to starting in SJII, Maureen was an elementary principal in her home country of Scotland. She is passionate about supporting student well-being as an integral part of the school curriculum and supporting staff well-being through professional learning and collaboration. Maureen is currently studying for her Masters in Educational Well-being.
For more helpful tips on parenting and anything school or #mumlife-related, stay tuned on our Instagram for the next HoneyKids Talk!