Published on May 17, 2016 inParenting on LandOMoms.com
Teaching kids to pay it forward with simple acts of kindness is an important part of raising empathetic and compassionate adults. When kids learn to see outside their own selves, they learn that their behaviors have an impact on others, helping them to feel empowered and inspired. Also, teaching kids to pay it forward can boost self-esteem and build community, which have been shown to impact happiness.
Sounds like a big undertaking? It doesn’t have to be! The act of paying it forward starts in a simple way – a desire to help others – and can be manifested throughout the average day. And that’s where the beauty lies; practicing empathy and compassion in simple ways, every single day, can ultimately impact our children more than the once-a-year donation drive.
Here are a few simple ways we can teach our kids to pay it forward.
Become a mom who models the behaviors
The most effective way to teach our kids to pay it forward is by modeling the behavior. Holding the door open for an elderly person, showing respect for those around us, biting our tongue in times of frustration, paying for a stranger’s cup of coffee, giving your free time for a cause, donating blood during your lunch break; all of these behaviors teach our children that we value the people around us.
Smile at service workers and say thank you
We love smiling and chatting with uniformed military folks, but service workers come in many forms. Ask your kids to find everyday people doing service that benefits them, and say thank you for making their day easier! Don’t forget the landscapers that maintain your local parks or the sanitation workers that clean the streets, crossing guards, bus drivers, librarians and postal workers are all service workers, too!
Share your joy
Teaching kids that their joy for life is a beautiful gift, in and of itself, is a simple way to pay it forward. Beyond sharing their joy and spreading kindness within their immediate circles, seek out organizations that make it easy for your kids to brighten someone else’s day. A great one is Love For The Elderly, who accepts personalized letters and packages and disperses them to the elderly who might need a little joy in their lives.
Give compliments to a new friend or kid at school
Teaching kids that everyone has redeemable qualities sets a positive mindset and teaches empathy. Helping kids to see the good in others – and paying them a compliment – is a great way to pay it forward.
Empower your child to pay it forward
Sometimes the most simple way to teach your child to pay it forward is to empower them to do so. Be consistent in your values and ask your child how they helped their community or friends that day. Acknowledge the importance of acts of kindness, praise their efforts and help them to recognize how good it feels to help others.
Teaching kids to pay it forward with simple acts of kindness is an everyday task. Empathy and compassion shouldn’t stop after you’ve paid for a stranger’s lunch or dropped off a donation box. In a world that revolves around “I”, raising kids to pay it forward not only benefits their communities, but also their own development.