Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

One of the many phrases our kids have heard us say over and over again is, “play nice” or “be nice.” But do any of us know what that really means? Such a vague statement doesn’t really teach your child anything. The best way to truly teach an important value such as kindness is through your own actions.

Performing your own acts of kindness as you go about your day with your child in tow will teach them more than anything you could possibly say about “being nice.” Hold open a door for others, offer your seat to an elderly person on a crowded bus, or help the neighbor carry in groceries. It may not seem like much, but when your child is watching your every move, these small moments can have a huge impact.

There are always opportunities to be kind, and you can teach even the youngest children to be nice. As you are dropping your child off at school and a friend is visibly upset, take a moment to direct your child. Ask your child why they think their friend is upset and how he or she can help them. If someone is sad or sick, ask your child what they can do to help. Let them come up with ideas (making a card, doing a chore) that will help.

By displaying kindness and talking about concrete ways of being kind, rather than making general statements, your child will learn how to do more than play nice; he will learn how to be a kind and considerate person.