Helping Our Kids Become Better People
Featured Article: “14 Little Ways to Encourage Kindness,” Kristine Breese
Parents, we know that you strive to see your children grow up into well-mannered, disciplined people with moral compasses and good hearts. However, the responsibility of nurturing kids to ensure their good character often falls solely on their caregivers, and it is no easy task. Fortunately, you have taken the proper first step by enrolling them into our martial arts programs, where our goal is to teach discipline, character, and integrity through the practice of taekwondo!
The Right Thing to Do
This week’s focus for our classes is to teach our students how to be a good person at home, in school and anywhere else they go! We will do this by first showing our students what it means to be a good person, and demonstrating the many different ways to help others in our daily lives. Furthermore, our goal is to make sure our students have the proper motivation, and are not helping others just to get a reward out of it. In other words, we want to make sure our kids are doing good deeds simply because it is the right thing to do, not because they will receive a reward for it. We want to raise people who are kind and good-hearted, which requires selflessness and courage, two skills that we will be emphasizing in our classes this week.
It’s no secret that if we want to raise good people, we have to set the example first, but it can often be tough to figure out how or where to start. Well, thanks to Kristine Breese, a writer for Parents.com, there are plenty of ways we can help encourage good character for our children at home.
In this article by Breese, she lists 14 things we can do for our kids that can help them become good people in all areas of life!
The baseline of her message is that the need to be included and the desire to be a part of something are intrinsic in children, and playing into these qualities is an effective way to make sure we are raising the next generation with kind hearts.
In addition, young children are in their most formative and impressionable years of their lives, so starting young is a crucial factor that will help develop positive habits. Although, it’s never too late to start building healthy and disciplined routines that will help our youth grow into caring, generous people. In fact, we help our students develop such habits in our classes through the practices of discipline, commitment, and responsibility. These three characteristics are important to have when creating any kind of new routine.
The Importance of Lending a Hand
According to Breese, one of the biggest ways we can encourage character growth for our kids is to teach them the importance of lending a hand. This can include giving them set chores to complete each week, teaching cooperation and teamwork, and helping them help other people. These are all great ways to develop character skills because they teach children that the more we help out, the more we get in return. Giving children these opportunities to provide help to others satisfies their need for inclusion and participation. One thing to keep in mind is that kids may not understand why they have to help at first. Breese’s recommendation is to remind them that they are doing these things “because it’s the right thing to do,” which is something we can’t emphasize enough!
As a matter of fact, it is essential throughout this process to stress that the motive for performing acts of kindness for others is because it’s what we are supposed to do. When kids only help out when they know there’s a prize attached to it, then they will learn to only help out when it directly benefits them, which undermines the core pillar of kindness. Acts of kindness often require sacrifice and selflessness, and we should teach our young ones that we have to act out of the goodness of our hearts, not because we can benefit from it. That’s not to say that we can’t reward our kids for doing good things, but it’s just a gentle reminder to be wary of that mindset. The truth is, service for others is its own reward, and that is one of the biggest lessons we can teach our youth.
On top of instilling the importance of pitching in to help, another way we can help our kids to become well-mannered is to, as Breese puts it, “Look on the bright side.” There are a couple ways to go about this, but the best way to start is by highlighting the positive things our children do each day. All too often, kids are put down for doing something wrong or making mistakes. Of course, it is important to course correct when they do something incorrectly, but we have to remember to balance out the negative with the positive. Otherwise, kids will start to focus on what they’re doing wrong rather than what they are doing right. This can lead to undesired mindsets later in life where children and young adults end up being too hard on themselves or develop “perfectionist” tendencies. To combat this, make sure to point out the good things that our children are doing for themselves and others.
An easy way to correct undesired behaviors is by using a “praise sandwich,” a technique that our instructors are trained to utilize when correcting students. The “praise sandwich” strategy involves surrounding corrections with praises, creating the “sandwich.” Instead of just pointing out what was wrong, try starting off with a praise on something they did well, then give the correction, and end with another praise. For example, if a student does not perform a proper kick, an instructor will say, “nice job keeping your hands on your cheeks (praise), but next time make sure you do all four parts of the kick (correction). But keep up the loud ‘kiais’ (praise).” Using a praise sandwich will make children feel recognized and heard, and encourage good behaviors while also fixing the bad ones. Doing so can create healthy and helpful attitudes for our children, and set them up for success.
The Golden Rule
Another helpful tip that Breese offers is to preach the “Golden Rule.” In case you need a refresher, the “Golden Rule” simply states to do for others what you would want to be done to you. In other words, if you want people to treat you with kindness you must first treat others with kindness. Teaching kids to do things for others that they would want for themselves is a great way to build great character. When they see someone struggling and overwhelmed, encourage them to go lend a helping hand. If they see someone sitting alone at lunch, tell them to go sit next to them and make a new friend. Show them how to stand up for someone getting bullied. All these reactions are things that we would want done for us if we were in the other person’s shoes, so it’s important that kids understand and develop these habits. After all, wouldn’t you want someone to cheer you up when you’re feeling down?
Lead By Example
Finally, keep in mind that the most effective way to develop kindness in our kids is to lead by example. Make sure to practice the Golden Rule with your children as well. When their homework is giving them trouble, offer your support. When they feel sick, bring them some hot soup and tea. When they’re injured, help them around the house. If we start by doing these things for our children, they will be all the more likely to do the same for others as well.
Remember, kids mirror the behaviors they see at home, so it really is imperative to live by what you preach. All in all, if we want our kids to grow up with strong moral backbones, we need to show them how to do it first.
For more tips on how to help build your child’s good character, be sure to check out the rest of Breese’s article. After you’ve checked it out, be sure to let us know what you thought about her advice!
Do you do these things at home with your kids?
What else do you do to develop helpful habits?