Help kids tap into their capacity to be nice

26 April 2016

Help kids tap into their capacity to be nice

  • Behaviour
by Michael Grose

Spend some time in any schoolyard or listen in to some sibling conversations and you’ll soon realise that children (your children too) can be very cruel to each other. They can say the most cutting things.

One of the jobs of parents is to help kids tap into their capacity to be kind, to be helpful and to be generous to others.

The capacity to be nice is there. It just needs to be developed, encouraged and nurtured. Some children need more reminding than others, so you may need to persevere and keep reminding kids to do the right thing by others. Thriving parenting is about developing real character in kids.

Tips for parents

  1. Develop a ‘No put-down’ policy: Help kids understand the potential destructiveness of putting kids down because of their weight, looks, intelligence or other personal attributes. If you’re told often enough that you’re dumb then it can have a way of sticking. As a parent become intolerant of personal put-downs from your kids.
  2. Help children identify friendly behaviours: Help kids understand how good friends act. Being a good friend means many things such as being loyal, keeping confidences, accepting mistakes and a whole lot more. Help kids understand these friendly behaviours and refer back to them when they are being…… unfriendly.
  3. Hypnotise your kids: My dad used to say, ‘If you haven’t anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.’ Like many parents he passed on his wisdom using memorable phrases, slogans and platitudes. Some of these may have been passed on to him. Importantly, he tried to live by the values they conveyed, so they carried significant weight. (I still open up my mouth sometimes and my dad jumps out!) Find a way to package up your personal wisdom around ‘niceness’ and start hypnotising your kids….just like your parents hypnotised you!

Friendliness has been identified as a basic skill that will contribute to children’s overall success at school and beyond. (Organisation,confidence, persistence and resilience are some of the others.) So helping kids tap into their niceness is not just a nice thing to do; it will assist them to work better with others, be more accepting and be happier to boot.

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Michael Grose

Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, is one of Australia’s leading parenting educators. He’s an award-winning speaker and the author of 12 books for parents including Spoonfed Generation, and the bestselling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It. Michael is a former teacher with 15 years experience, and has 30 years experience in parenting education. He also holds a Master of Educational Studies from Monash University specialising in parenting education.