Kindness is a virtue you would love your preschooler to possess, but it's not something you can wrap up and give her for her birthday. You can teach her to develop a kind personality through your own behavior and by showing her how to think of others with games and activities.
One way to show kindness is through the act of giving, so help your child create gifts to give to other people. Encourage him to make a card for someone, telling him how it will "cheer them up." The card could be for someone who has been ill or just for a special friend. Make or decorate cookies together to give to people in his life. Help him think about what they would like -- he could put blue icing on one for Daddy because it is his favorite color, or pink sprinkles on one for his preschool teacher.
Show your preschooler how to be kind through pretend play. If she likes playing with dolls or teddy bears, demonstrate how to be kind by saying: "Oh dear, your baby is crying, I think she needs a cuddle." Use mini figures to act out scenarios involving kindness: one doll house figure could be feeling sad because she is all on her own. Ask your preschooler: "How could the others make her feel better? If they asked her to join in with them, that would be really kind."
Talk About Feelings
Help your preschooler understand how he can affect the feelings of others by talking about emotions. You could say: "Bobby felt shy when he came to play, but you were very kind sharing your toys and he soon felt better." Point out: "That was kind of the other children to let you join in at the park." If another child he knows is crying, you could suggest: "Maybe you could give him a cuddle to make him feel better."
Notice and praise acts of kindness from your preschooler, no matter how small. Tell her: "That was very kind of you to give Mommy a cuddle, I feel much better now," or "You were kind to pass the baby that toy, I am very proud of you." Maybe you could even have a kindness jar or chart leading to a special trip or day out.
Your preschooler learns by watching you, so be sure to demonstrate kindness -- even with small acts like opening doors for other people or passing toys to someone at a toddler group. Tell him things like: "Mommy is just going to get Daddy a drink because he is tired after work."
- Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images