We do our best to develop our kids’ self-esteem. We encourage them to speak up, make time to give them attention, and praise them as much as possible.
However, after all the attention and love given to them at home, they may expect the same treatment from peers. They’re not bullies, but they keep trying to be the center of attention. They may show off, or boss friends around. How do you teach them to be more considerate and sensitive to others’ feelings?
Teach your child to give and take
Sometimes we give our kids too much, too soon. ‘Oh, I bought a toy for my son so I need to get one for my daughter, or she’ll get jealous.’ Or, ‘I’m exhausted from staying up with the baby, but my son wants to go to the playground and I don’t want to disappoint him.’ But it’s actually good for kids to have to share toys with siblings, or be aware of other people’s needs. You can explain, ‘Your brother got a high grade in Math, so he earned this toy.’ Or, ‘Mommy has a headache. Let’s think of a quiet game we can do at home so I can rest but we can still have fun.’
Praise your child when he is considerate.
Actively look out for moments when your child is kind, compassionate or caring—and praise him for it. ‘You didn’t get mad when your baby sister kicked your block tower. Thank you for being so patient with her.’
Be a good role model.
If your child sees you, your spouse, and other adults speak to each other with respect and consideration, then he will quickly learn to treat his friends that way. However, if he sees you being rude to a customer service representative, or notices that his dad doesn’t really help around the house, then he most likely believe it is the right way to behave.
Help your child be a little ‘helper.’
Kids like feeling smart and competent. One way to prevent this from turning into arrogance is to give them opportunities to use their skills and strengths to make other people happy. Encourage them to help around the house, or to do little favors for neighbors or relatives. ‘Your aunt is feeling sick. Can you help me bake cookies to bring to her today? It will really cheer her up.’
It’s equally important to help your child realize the kindness shown to him. Teach him to say thank you, and to appreciate and be grateful for what others do. For example, “It was nice of your cousin to lend you that book. He even went out of his way to drop it off at the house for you!”
Photo from wallcoo.net