Raising kids is tough. Raising nice kids is even harder. Especially in today’s world, filled with social media, YouTube, and video games. Kids can be bombarded with examples of mean behavior, and after so much exposure to it, they can begin to think that being disrespectful is the norm. But how do you combat the impact of a mean society? I’ve compiled a list of my own parenting tips for you. Tips to help you raise nice kids. Because there is no greater compliment you can receive as a parent than a complete stranger telling you that your kids are so polite and well-behaved.
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8 Tips to Raise Nice Kids:
Model Kind Behavior
Your kids are always watching you. Seeing how you handle certain situations. They are little sponges looking to Mommy and Daddy and emulating your behavior. So it’s your job to be a model of the nice and decent people that you want your kids to become.
I don’t know how many times I’ve been out to eat and overheard another diner being flat-out rude to a waiter. In my opinion, there is never any circumstance that makes it okay to be mean/rude/nasty to another human being. Especially because they accidentally refilled your sweet tea with unsweet. And if your kids happen to be out to eat with you, and your waiter gets your order wrong, your kids will see how you handle that situation. Make the right choice. Make the kind choice.
If you make it a habit to talk down to others, then your kids are likely to do the same. Treat people nicely, and your kids will likely be nice kids.
Treat them With Kindness
Take a breath before you talk to your kids. Working with preschool-aged children, I was taught the “Smell the flower, blow out the candle” method. Try it… Smell the Flower (take a deep breath in through your nose) and then Blow out the Candle (exhale through your mouth like you’re blowing out a candle).
When your child is working your last nerve, or you’re tired from a long day, it can be easy to lose your patience and get all Mean Mom. But if you lose your patience and yell, then they will think that it is okay to yell like Mommy did. Speak to your children kindly, and they will be more likely to treat others kindly. Raise nice kids by being nice yourself.
Limit Digital Use
What do my kids do when they get home from school? They jump on the trampoline, play basketball in the driveway, make Playdoh masterpieces, read a book, or help Daddy cook dinner. Sure they watch the occasional age-appropriate YouTube video. I mean, it is the 21st Century. But what they don’t do is come home and play video games, scroll through social media feeds, or plop down in front of the TV for hours on end. Yes, I know we are living in the digital age, but unless you are looking over their shoulders every second that they are using electronics, then it’s hard to know for sure exactly what your kids are being exposed to online and in the media.
Who hasn’t watched an online video of a prank, or seen someone online trash-talking another person? Is this the behavior that you want your kids to emulate? Limiting their exposure to mean behavior in digital form is an important step to raising nice kids.
Recognize Acts of Kindness
If you catch your child doing something kind, praise them. Say, “I love how you helped your sister find her….” Encourage positive behavior and kind acts by recognizing them. Positively reinforce positive behaviors. Most kids want to make their parents proud. Let your kids know that you are proud of them for being kind.
One great way to do this, especially if you have younger kids, is with a kindness jar. A what?
A kindness jar is a jar/bucket/container that allows your child to actually “see” their acts of kindness and be rewarded for them. It works like this – Each time that you observe your child doing something kind (helping her sister find her lost book, sharing a toy, etc.), give them a “kindness coin” and have them put it in their kindness jar. (Yes, “kindness coins” are a real thing – they actually sell them on Amazon). Once the jar is full, treat your child to something fun like ice cream or a small toy. A super simple and effective way to encourage kind behavior!
Want to start this in your house? Check out these great “kindness coins” that you can get on Amazon! And don’t forget, after the jar is full you can empty it and start again, reusing the same coins.
Prefer a printable version of the “kindness jar”? Sign up below to get my FREE Printable Kindness Charts (in 2 fun color combos)!
Don’t Allow Hateful Words
Our kids aren’t allowed to say “hate”. They aren’t even allowed to “hate” their peas. Sure, they can “not like” their veggies. But they can’t say, “I hate….”. We teach our kids to not “hate” anything. Because “hate” is a strong word. If you allow your kids to use mean words like “hate”, “stupid”, etc. then before you know it “hating” vegetables turns into “hating” that girl in class. And a “stupid” inanimate object turns into a “stupid” classmate.
Don’t allow your kids to use negative and mean words that could one day be used to put down another person. Instead teach kids that each person is an individual, and that you never really know what is going on in someone else’s life, so it’s not fair to judge them or call them names. That boy in class may be mean because he has a rough home life. You never know what someone else is going through, so it’s important to treat everyone you encounter with respect.
Raise nice kids that don’t use hateful words.
**Side Note – I manage ALL of the finances in my household. Seriously, my husband has never paid one single bill. See how I keep track of our money without going crazy (or broke) here!
R-E-S-P-E-C-T… Aretha taught us how to spell it… but if you want to raise nice kids, it’s your job to teach it.
Teach your kids to respect their elders. Teach them to give up their chair to the elderly woman in a crowded room, or hold the door open for the lady struggling to get her stroller through a doorway (we’ve all been there, right?!).
And teach them to respect you. Children should know that you are the parent. You are the boss. Don’t allow your children to speak down to you or talk back.
Tell Them “No”
I tell my kids “No”. A lot. Even though my husband doesn’t think I tell them “No” enough. The last thing that I want is for my kids to feel like they are entitled to something – or everything. Entitled kids throw temper tantrums. They are the 10-year-olds in Target that are having an absolute breakdown in the middle of the toy aisle. Entitled kids think only of themselves. They are the ones snatching the legos from their friend’s hands during a playdate. Entitled kids are no fun to be around.
Telling them “No” doesn’t make you a bad parent. It prepares them for real life. Don’t give in. Stand your ground. If you give in and say “Yes” to avoid making a scene, then your child will pick up on that. By saying “Yes” you are just reaffirming to them that they can have whatever they want if they cry loudly enough. Entitled kids are not nice kids.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always say “No”. Every now and then I say “Yes” to a treat or a small toy, if I feel that my kids have earned it. But, when I do say “Yes” I make sure to give them a reason for why I am saying yes. Like “Yes, we can get ice cream because you both have done such a great job all week keeping your playroom clean.”
Raise nice kids by telling them “no”.
Give Them Opportunities to Show Compassion
Kids need to know that they are blessed. And kids need to know that there are a TON of people out there that are way less fortunate than they are. Teach kids to be grateful for what they have, and teach them to show compassion towards others.
When I was in high school, my family took a few trips to the Dominican Republic. Yes, we did pack bathing suits and flip flops, but we also packed suitcases full of toys, toiletries, clothes, and shoes to take to children living in small villages and orphanages around the country. Seeing the pure joy on the faces of those children when you hand them a new pair of shoes… you would have thought you were giving them an iphoneX. Visiting these kids that lived in 10′ x 10′ houses with concrete walls and dirt floors taught me early on to have compassion.
And now I try to teach my girls the same thing.
When my 8 year old daughter wanted to donate ALL of her piggy bank money (about $38) to a little boy at her school who had been diagnosed with cancer, I could not have been more proud.
It doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive gesture… buy a Christmas gift for a child on the Angel Tree, take cookies to the elderly woman down the street that lives by herself, or let your kids drop a few dollars into the bucket for the Salvation Army. Just make it a point to provide the opportunity for them to show compassion to others.
Raise nice kids by raising compassionate kids.
As I said, these are my tips that I have used to raise nice kids myself. I tell my husband at least once a week how blessed we are to have such wonderful, caring, all around good children. No, I don’t have a degree in child psychology, but I have been pretty darn successful at raising two great girls. (Patting myself on the back). 🙂
Want to read more? Check out these highly rated books on raising kind kids!
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What are your parenting tips for how to raise nice kids? I’d love to hear what works for you! Leave a comment below and, if you found these tips helpful, share them with a Mommy friend!