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Friday November 13, 2015 is World Kindness Day. Celebrate World Kindness Day by showing and encouraging your children to be kind everyday.

Every parent wants the best for their child; we want them to be happy and safe. So how do we increase the happiness and well being of our children? We start by encouraging children to be kind, have empathy and care about others.

Empathy is the ability to understand and be sensitive to other people’s feelings. Christine Carter, a sociologist at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California explains “One study found children as young as 18 months could master a key component of empathy: the ability to tune in to people’s emotions. By age 4, they move beyond making physical caring gestures and start to think about others’ feelings in relation to their own.”

As parents you can encourage empathy and kindness daily by treating others kindly and discussing certain situations and feelings with your children, it’s never too early to start.

  1. Show empathy to others. Try and be more understanding when people make mistakes.
  2. Write thank you notes. Ask questions like “How would you feel if you spent a lot of time picking out a gift for someone and they didn’t thank you?” They may be too young to write a thank you card but they can draw a picture as a thank you or sign their name on a card that you have written.
  3. Be consistent. If you are telling your children to be mindful of other people’s feelings, then you should do the same.
  4. Explore “feelings”. Each day spend a few minutes pointing out different expressions and give them a name; happy, sad, angry. Make feelings flash cards together by cutting out or drawing pictures that reflect each emotion.
  5. Recognize kindness. When your child is kind or does something thoughtful, point it out and talk about it. But remember not to over praise ordinary everyday acts like saying thank you.
  6. Address your little ones needs. Instead of getting upset with them for throwing a tantrum in the middle of the store, recognize that they are probably tired and need a nap and go home and lay down.

Sit down and talk to your children about kindness. Depending on their age, work together and come up with a list of easy little acts of kindness that you can incorporate into your daily lives to brighten the lives of others.