A guest post from my friend Melanie at Plan for Awesome
I got a text from my sister-in-law a couple weeks ago, saying she was at her
So…a few words before I share with you my thoughts on teaching young children to be kind.
- I am not a child psychologist.
- My kids fight all the time.
I think that’s it. I just don’t want you to think I am qualified to give advice on this topic. I am simply passing on a couple tips that certainly aren’t foolproof but definitely helped me a few years ago.
And while I am at it, I am sharing a far cuter version of a concept I used when my kids were teeny tiny.
The Kindness Chart
When I had two kids, ages 2 and 3, I made each of them a really simple behavior chart.
After they woke up, I set a timer to go off every hour. At that time, they would either put up a happy face or a sad face, depending on how their behavior had been that past hour.
When it was time for lunch, we would go to their chart and see how they had done until that point. If they had all happy faces, they would get a treat with their lunch (or an extra book before naptime, etc). If they had any sad faces for that block of time, they would not get the reward.
We would repeat this for the time between lunch and dinner, doing a quick check-in every hour. At dinner time, if they had all happy faces in their second box for the day, they would get a treat at dinner (or a reward of some kind).
We did the same thing between dinner and bedtime, and the
I didn’t punish at each behavior checkpoint. If they had done something that had warranted a timeout, then I enforced that at the time of
I used these checkpoints as leverage throughout the day. If I could see bad behavior approaching, I would remind them what they had to look forward to, if they could hold out and get those happy faces up on their charts.
Then I would start singing a very simple and powerful song I had taught them, to take their mind off of whatever it was that was upsetting them, and to remind them that our goal was to be kind.
Sing A Simple Song About Kindness
One of my favorite songs to sing with/to my kids when they were little is called,
- It is short
- It uses words that kids understand
- It takes less than 3 minutes to memorize
You can listen to the song HERE.
Sometimes I would just sing it by myself and they wouldn’t join in, but more often than not they would join me in singing the song. There’s something about singing that makes it really hard to stay angry for very long.
Depending on the day, my mood, their mood, etc, I would sing the song several times in different ways; loud, soft, opera style, cowboy style, staccato, etc. They would get a kick out of that and would typically forget what they were upset about in the process.
A Simple Scripture
I also wrote a simple scripture on a piece of paper (which I have now turned into a cute printable that you can grab for free at the bottom of this post, along with the behavior chart) that I hung right above the charts. We would say the scripture when we went to put up the happy face or sad face for that hour.
I would point to the words and say the phrase with the kids. This was a good reminder of what we were working on, and provided structure and accountability.
I’m not going to lie and say these three things turned my children into perfect little angels. But they sure did help.
And I have improved the style of them for you and they are available to download for FREE right here!
The scriptures and “Kindness Begins With Me” sign are ready to roll. Just download and print.
I recognize that there are lots of different versions of the Bible out there. If yours uses different words than the ones I have provided here, PLEASE leave a comment and I will make one with the exact wording you would like to have in your home. I am all about making this useful for YOU! ♥
The Kindness Chart has two options.
Option 1 – This chart already has 6 smiley faces printed for each timeframe. If your kids are early birds like mine, you will have 6 hours before the lunchtime checkpoint. The dinner and bedtime checkpoints were much
You can either laminate this page or stick it in a sheet protector. Then your child can color a happy face each hour (or however you want to do it) that he/she has been kind. If they get a sad face for that hour, they could either leave it blank or cross out a happy face.
Option 2 – This chart has blank sections and comes with a second page with several happy faces and sad faces for you to cut out. I would recommend laminating both the chart and the happy faces. Your child would put up the earned face each hour (you could use magnets, sticky tack, etc).
I have both options in the downloadable file, so you can choose which one you would like to use!
**Once you’ve downloaded the file, click at the top where the name would be, and a cursor will appear, and you can type in your child’s name. There is not an option to center the text, so you’ll have to use spaces to get it centered.
You also have the option of printing it out as-is, and writing in your child’s name, using sticker letters, etc.
Don’t forget to comment below with any tips you have for teaching little ones to be kind!