How do you teach your child to be honest and kind? Showing concern for the welfare and feelings of others and being honest are part of our moral build-up. These intangibles are hard, but not impossible, to teach your child honesty and kindness.
Set a good example
You cannot reasonably expect your child to behave in a caring way if you behave dishonestly or unkindly in front of him. He models himself partly on your behaviour, so make sure that you act in a way you want your child to. No-one is perfect, but try hard to let your child see you behave well.
There will be many times when your child is kind to his friends or to adults. When that happens, tell him how pleased you are with his actions and make a big fuss of him for being so caring. Your positive reaction encourages him to behave this way again in the future.
(Also read: 10 ways to praise your kid)
Emphasise that actions have consequences
When teaching your child to be honest and kind, tell him clearly: “When you help others, they will feel better” or “If everyone was dishonest, you couldn’t trust anybody.” These help your child to understand the wider implication of his pro-social behaviour. He begins to realise that kindness and honesty have important, broad effects.
Give him opportunities to be helpful
It is good to assign your child responsibility for basic household chores, such as tidying the videos each night or setting the cutlery on the table for the family meal. Giving your growing child duties like these helps him to think about others and to be considerate to them.
(Also read: 10 good habits to teach your preschooler)
Talk about how to be caring
Your child’s understanding has developed to the point where he can discuss moral dilemmas (for instance, whether or not a poor man should steal expensive drugs for his sick child, or why a rich nation should give help and support to starving countries). These chats broaden his caring attitudes. He will also find them fascinating.
Have “zero tolerance”
Do not let incidents of dishonesty from your child go by unnoticed, even though they may be relatively minor. A zero-tolerance attitude at home lets your child see that you expect honesty and kindness at all times. Explain to him that even in these minor incidents, there is always a victim. Avoid extreme punishments, however.
(Also read: Are you bribing or rewarding good behaviour?)
Encourage restitution where appropriate
If you do learn that your child has been unkind or dishonest to someone, try to find a reasonable way so he can make amends. Often, all it takes is for him to admit the truth instead of persisting with the lie, or perhaps he can return unnoticed that pencil which he “took” from someone in class.
Engage in charity
Whatever amount of money he gets for pocket money or for birthday presents, suggest that he gives a share of his money to charity. This is a very practical form of kindness that involves him directly. Make sure that he physically puts the coins into the charity collection.
(Also read:Why you should practice charity with your child)
Anticipate peer pressure
Your child may have a caring, pro-social view at home, but he may be subjected to conflicting views at school. For example, his peer group may think it is good fun to tease a weaker child in the playground. Ask your child to stick to his ideals, despite any occasional pressures from his friends to do otherwise. In this way, you reinforce what you teach your child at home – to be honest and kind.
(Also read: Peer pressure: how it affects your child)
Adopt a pet
You do not need a dog or cat, just a small pet such as a goldfish or a hamster. The basic responsibility of feeding a pet teaches your child how rewarding it is to be caring to others. Of course, you will need to supervise him, but let him know that he is in charge.
However, do remember that a pet is for life, so do not adopt or buy one unless the whole family is committed to taking care of it in the long term.
(Also read: 4 things to ask before buying your child a pet)