Raising a Kind Kid: Tips From a Child Development Expert

Fisher-Price Smilestones Preschooler Milestones Tips for Parents

July 7, 2023

No time to read? No problem.

Here are a couple of things to know about kids and kindness:

  • Being kind is a skill most preschoolers are still learning. It takes plenty of practice, and YOU are the perfect coach! Point out acts of kindness wherever you see them to help your preschooler begin to understand what kindness looks like.
  • Playtime is a great opportunity to help illustrate examples of kindness for your kiddo through modeling and role playing.
  • Talking about diversity with your child—and letting them ask questions—can build acceptance and empathy.
  • Provide lots of praise & support when your child shows kindness, and you’re sure to see more kind behavior from them.


Why is kindness important for kids?

Studies show that doing acts of kindness can give kids a greater sense of belonging, improve their self-esteem, social skills, relationships and increase their happiness. Very simply, doing something kind for someone else feels good!

1. Show what kindness is.

Instead of trying to explain what kindness is, SHOW them. Point out acts of kindness you notice in books, on TV or even during playtime. Model kindness at home and when you’re out. Remember, you are their best teacher!

2. Be their kindness coach.

Set your child up for kindness success by creating very specific kindness opportunities. For example, “Your brother loves fruit snacks. I think he’d be really happy if you shared one with him. That would be really kind of you!” Suggest kid-sized acts of kindness your preschooler can do all on their own:

  • Smiling
  • Giving a compliment
  • Drawing a picture for someone
  • Saying “please” and “thank you”
  • Sharing a favorite toy
  • Asking a friend to choose the game they play
  • Letting someone go first on the playground slide

3. Use pretend play to practice empathy.

As I mentioned, most preschoolers do not yet understand how their words and actions make other people feel. While playing together, encourage empathy and perspective by asking your preschooler how they think their character feels. (“Uh-oh! Your doll is not sharing with her friend! How do you think her friend feels? How does your doll feel?”)

4. Pour on the praise.

Reward even the smallest act of kindness with a big serving of praise. “Thank you so much for sharing your puzzle with your cousin! That was so kind!” Besides reinforcing the behavior, it will set an expectation that kindness is important to you. Also, your praise serves as a good example of being kind.

Surprising Kindness Tips

Here are a couple kindness-related tips you may not have thought of:

1. Discuss—and celebrate—differences.

Expose your child to people who are different from you and your family. Choose media and toys that represent different cultures, abilities, languages, genders and races. Then encourage them to ask questions. Discussing those questions builds acceptance, empathy and yes, kindness.

2. Show them how to be kind to themselves.

Practicing affirmations is a scientifically proven way to show self-love, build positive self-image and resiliency. Build a collection of “I” statements your preschooler can repeat every day to show themselves a little kindness. Here are some thought starters to add to your child’s daily routine:

I am smart!
I am a good friend!
I am a good helper!
I care about other people!

Parent check-in

Being kind to yourself is just as important as being kind to others. So repeat after me:

I am an awesome and loving parent.
I am doing my best for my child.
I will be kind to myself today.

Teaching kindness takes a ton of patience. And to be honest, being kind is not always easy for adults or for children, right? So be kind to yourself in this process. It’s okay to show your child that you sometimes have trouble being as kind as you’d like to be. Keep practicing kindness—together! And speaking of practicing kindness: thank you for reading this article!

Gentle reminder: If you ever have concerns about your child’s development, trust your gut and reach out to your pediatrician.”

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