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5 Tips to Help Kids Be Kind and Compassionate from PBS Kids

5 Tips to Help Kids Be Kind and Compassionate from PBS Kids

You and the kids can use these tips to help celebrate National Neighbor Day on September 28.

We all remember Mister Rogers and his lessons about how to be a good neighbor–lessons that live on even though Mister Rogers and his show are gone. PBS Kids has released materials to help you celebrate National Neighbor Day on September 28 and talk to your kids about kindness, empathy, and understanding. Kids who love to play games on iPads or iPhones might like the Neighbor Day online game from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that helps little ones learn that there are many ways to be a good neighbor. There’s also a free crafting project that will help kids map their own neighborhoods. On the PBS website Katie Hurley has released five tips to raise inclusive, kind kids. These strategies include:

1. Focus on emotions.

When kids learn how to label their emotions, they can better understand what they feel and what makes them feel certain ways, Hurley says. To teach your kids ways to identify feelings, use feeling words (like happy, sad, curious, angry) to describe your own day. You can also discuss the mind/body connection, use the Daniel Tiger Grr-iffic Feelings app, and make emotion check-ins a part of your family’s everyday routine. You can do check-ins every morning and every night, Hurley suggests.

2. Be an includer.

Kids will always learn by watching–and are always watching you! PBS suggests that when parents include and help others, kids will learn that it’s a good thing to do. Including others doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive: you can simply invite other kids to join your family’s game or tag, or invite your neighbor on your walk.

“When parents show kids that including others helps lift the spirits of others and decreases loneliness, kids learn to look for the lonely and take steps to help them feel included,” Hurley says.

3. Avoid snap judgments.

Growing up will be full of moments kids will have strong feelings about–and one of these moments might include what you see as bullying. However, Hurley says that what might seem like bullying directed at your child–such as pushing and grabbing–might actually be underdeveloped social skills or lack of frustration tolerance. So don’t be quick to judge the other children in your child’s life. If you classify others as “bullies” or “mean”, kids will learn to judge and exclude. When you can remain calm and help your kids process all moments and emotions, using empathy and compassion, they will learn to better empathize with others.

4. Teach inclusive language.

“For some kids, finding playmates is as simple as standing near a group and saying, ‘Can I play?’” Hurley says. “For many kids, however, joining groups at play isn’t so easy. Sliding in and out of groups is a fairly advanced social skill, and young children don’t necessarily know how to get involved in a group that’s already formed.”

You can teach your children to be inclusive by scanning the playground for kids who don’t seem to have a group or might feel left out. Your kid can bring others into the group by saying:

  • Do you want to sit with us for lunch?
  • Do you like kickball? You can join our team!
  • Do you want to play tag with us?
  • We always need extra players.
  • Are you looking for a game to play? Play with us!

Once kids get into the habit of being inclusive, they’ll keep doing it! You should also use inclusive language in the house to reinforce these ideas.

5. Encourage acts of kindness.

Kids don’t always receive the positive reinforcement and feedback they need when they do something right, Hurley says. Parents should make sure they give positive feedback when kids are kind and compassionate.

“Notice the kind things your kids do, like Daniel Tiger, at home, at school and in the community,” Hurley says. “Tell them how proud you are when they make sure the same child isn’t always picked last or include other kids during a day at the park.” A little can go a long way when it comes to teaching your kids how to be inclusive and compassionate!





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Jacqueline Neber

Author: Jacqueline Neber is an assistant editor and a graduate of The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. When she's not focused on writing special needs and education features, you can find her petting someone else's dog. See More

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