Monthly Archives

June 2020

  • Simple Methods for Teaching Kids Kindness and Empathy

    As a child, my parents recited the old adage “treat others the way they want to be treated” often. This message has resonated throughout my life in situations where I feel triggered or compelled to jump to conclusions. It’s important that my children understand the values of empathy and why it should be employed in our social interactions and relationships.

    In fact, years from now when I look back on the job I’ve done as a parent, I will measure my success in the amount of kindness radiating from my kids.

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    Let’s define empathy as the attempt to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from his or her point of view, rather than from one’s own.

    Empathy allows children to assess how others are feeling and respond appropriately. In the age of bullying, it’s vital to the health of our youngest generation to understand and practice empathy and tactful sensitivity. By teaching children to look outward and identify with the experience of others, we can cultivate kindness and foster compassion.

    Below is a printable learning activity, a printable call to action and a list of picture books to help children explore the value of empathy and grow kindness. We hope you make full use of our simple methods for teaching kids kindness and empathy, and in doing so, make the world a better place.

    Wrinkled Heart Learning Activity

    Start with an unwrinkled heart. Have your child cut it out. Explain negative speak and give examples. With each negative phrase, fold the heart until it is completely wrinkled. Discuss how hurtful words can cause another person harm and are not easily forgotten. Lastly, explain that once something is communicated, it can not be retracted, in the same way the heart cannot be unwrinkled.

    A few more talking points:

      • Explain why it is important to think before you speak
      • Talk to your children about the struggles that others go through
      • Have a conversation about how the different life experiences of others can explain their actions
      • Teach them that words can hurt and have consequences
      • Discuss how speaking with care and sensitivity could save someone pain and suffering

    Random Acts of Kindness Jar

    Help children learn to derive pleasure from the happiness of others with this simple and impactful activity. Use the label to create a random acts of kindness jar. Cut the acts of kindness into small strips and fold them up. Then place them in the jar. Every morning (or week, month, whatever works for your family) have your child pull one of the strips from the jar and complete the act of kindness. Watch as they grow in their desire to give and pay it forward.

    Books that Teach & Inspire Empathy

    There is no better method for delivering a message to a child than via picture book. Research indicates that reading improves a child’s emotional intelligence and increases empathy. Be sure to check out the following reads:

    How Full is Your Bucket?

    Each of us has an invisible bucket. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful. Yet most children (and many adults) don’t realize the importance of having a full bucket throughout the day. Felix learns how every interaction in a day either fills or empties his bucket. He then realizes that everything he says or does to other people fills or empties their buckets as well. Follow along with Felix as he learns how easy it can be to fill the buckets of his classmates, teachers and family members. Before the day is over, you’ll see how Felix discovers that filling someone else’s bucket also fills his own.

    The Last Stop on Market Street

    Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them. Help children walk a mile in another’s shoes and gain a different perspective with this award winning read.

    The Invisible Boy

    Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party until a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine. From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.

    We hope you’ve enjoyed our Simple Methods for Teaching Kids Kindness and Empathy. Looking for more on early childhood development? Be sure to read our small steps for Raising Confident Kids.



    teaching kids empathy

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  • 20 of The Best Children’s Books about Race and Racism

    The topics of race and racism can be difficult to broach with children, and deciding when and how can be complex. It is a firm belief of mine, as a mother to white children, that my work to cultivate positive change needs to start at home. So I’ve decided to talk to my kids and read them stories about race, and find books that feature characters who look different from them.

    Best Childrens Books on Race

    This post contains affiliate links, which means that we may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links. All proceeds accrued from the links in this article will be donated to Color of Change, the Nation’s largest online racial justice organization. You can read more about their mission here

    My hope is that, in having these conversations early, future discussions about discrimination and white privilege won’t feel uncomfortable. I want them to be able to identify covert and overt racism, and call for justice when they see it.

    I have found books to be one of the best ways to convey messages to children, with brains that are wired for stories and narrative. And because their age plays a large factor in what they should consume and retain, I’ve broken it down into groups.

    If it’s time to update your classroom or at home library, here is our list of 2o of the Best Children’s Books about race and racism, broken down into 3 age groups

    Ages 0-2

    Studies show that babies recognize differences in skin color and hair textures. Even before it is possible to have conversations with your children, teach through through stories and actions. In addition, do your best to expose your child to a diverse environment and media that represents people of color. It’s important for kids to see their parents interact with people of other racial and ethnic groups.

    Babies Around the World

    Anti-racist Baby

    An ABC of Equality

    children's books about race and racism

    Dream Big Little One

    All Kinds of People

    children's books about race and racismAges 3-6

    When children become more vocal, it’s normal for them to spontaneously start talking about skin color.  Help your child work through their curiosity by having a conversation about race. It’s also fine to bring up people’s physical differences before your child does. The goal is not to teach them to be “colorblind” but to love and respect people who look different than they do. Correct racial and cultural insensitivities when you witness them, as it is critical to model allyship.

    Just Like Me

    Together We Can

    What if We Were all the Same

    children's books about race and racism

     

    All are Welcome

    Whoever You Are

    What I like About Me

    A Boy Like You

    A Girl Like You
    children's books about race and racism

    The Skin You Live In

    Ages 6+

    When kids start school, their circle of exposure widens, which means that they may need more explicit guidance about race and racism. Kids this age are already receiving messages from TV and media about who has power and who is valued in our society. We must start teaching them to be critical readers and viewers.

    This is also a time when we can begin to teach kids ways to combat racism and prejudice. But to do so, parents may have to first introduce them to the idea that some people get treated unfairly based on their skin color, culture or religion. Kids in this age group can also comprehend contextual examples of their privilege, like living a life without fear of experiencing racism.

     

    Same Same but Different

    Children's books about race

    A Kid’s Book about Racism

    Children's Books on RaceI am Enough

    Children's books about race and racism

    Skin Like Mine

    Ruby’s Birds

    Who Did it First

    We hope you love this list of Children’s books about race and racism and have selected a few to read to your own kids! To foster kindness and help kids discover the value of empathy, check out our Simple Methods for Teaching Kindness and Empathy.

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