By Cherie Werner
We have a very creative God! Each one of your students has a special purpose and plan from God. Each of your students will grow up to be a unique creation with his or her own set of gifts and abilities. One of the best things you can teach them is how to be kind.
Young children are naturally self-centered because their brain hasn’t fully developed a sense of empathy. They aren’t always able to put themselves in other people’s shoes. They don’t always think about the lasting effects of what they say or do to others.
Most children also care about others and want to help. We can utilize those natural tendencies and teach children how to be kind, show them what kindness looks like, and give them chances to practice and show kindness to others.
Before you begin, the most important thing to do is pray. Ask God to create opportunities for discussion, modeling, and practice. Pray for your students. Ask God to fill each of them with his Holy Spirit and create in them the fruits of kindness and compassion toward others.
Here are a few ways to teach kindness:
Teach Empathy: Use stories or role play situations that create different kinds of feelings: fear, anger, joy, sadness, love, frustration, and so on. Help children to identify the feelings involved and ask them: “How would you feel if that happened to you?” and “What would you like a friend to do for you if you felt that way?” Help children understand how someone else feels in that situation and then talk about how to help or encourage that person.
Practice Using Positive Words: Encourage children to find something good to say and to be quiet if they can’t. Have children practice complimenting each other: “I like your hat.” “You have nice handwriting.” “You are a fast runner.” “I like all the colors you used in your picture.”
Practice Asking Questions: One of the best ways to be kind is to show interest in others. Help your students practice asking questions: “How are you today?” “Did you have a good morning?” “Tell me about your picture.”
Kindness Challenges: Give your class a secret mission each week. Invite them to go out of their way to help others without letting them know what they are doing. Some examples of secret missions are: opening doors for people, letting others go first, looking for ways to help, asking someone new to play, smiling more, helping a friend carry their stuff.Use Teachable Moments: When you see someone being kind, point it out and thank that person for being kind. When you see a situation where someone could have acted differently, take time to help that student “go back” and do it again in a better, kinder way.