5 Ways to Model Compassion and Kindness for Girls

Ask any mom if she hopes her daughter will grow up to be kind and compassionate, and the answer’s going to be something along the lines of “Yes! Of course!” You may also use words like smart, happy, and brave when you’re talking about your little girl, but we’ve all got our eyes on empathy these days.


In fact, one Harvard study found 96 percent of parents say raising an ethical and caring child is “very important, if not essential” to them. But in a world where one in four schoolkids reports being a victim of bullying, how do you model the sort of compassion and kindness you hope your little girl shows to others?

It’s a lot easier than you might think.

  1. Get back to nature. If you’ve ever told your little girl to go outside and get some fresh air she’s feeling a little down and out, you’ve already begun teaching her that the great outdoors is good for the spirit. But it’s also good for her looking outside of herself and finding extra compassion for others. One study published by the American Psychological Association in 2015 found that nature reminds us we’re a small part of a larger whole, which in turn inspires compassionate thinking and positive social expressions. Whether you take a simple walk in the woods or pick up trash on the local hiking trail, you can get a little exercise and boost her kindness quotient at the same time.
  2. Give yourself a break. It’s hard to be a mom juggling kids and bills and laundry and a whole lot more. But every time you say something unkind to yourself -- whether it’s about your body or your messy house -- your daughter is taking note. Modeling self-compassion will help her learn to give herself a break, and in turn give others one too.
  3. Surprise strangers with something nice. This one’s obvious, right? If we want to raise compassionate kids, we need to act compassionately to others in front of them. But when you consider studies show girls are significantly more inclined to notice acts of kindness than boys, that cup of coffee you buy for the next guy in line just became a whole lot more important, didn’t it? It doesn’t always have to cost you money, either. Hold the door open at the bank for the next person, or help the woman with her arms full of packages carry them into the post office. Better yet, ask your daughter to grab one of the small boxes so she can help, too.
  4. Volunteer together. This one is a double whammy. Not only will she see you being kind to others, but the younger kids are when they start walking dogs at the local animal shelter or spooning out soup at the local soup kitchen, they higher the probability that they’ll take part in volunteer organizations during adolescence and adulthood.
  5. Practice! You would never expect your daughter to ride off on her new bike without a few trial runs with training wheels and your hand steadying the seat, right? Likewise you can’t expect her to have the tools to be kind on the playground without some practice. Try acting out tough situations with her WellieWishers dolls, so she will be more attuned to noticing the little girl who’s waiting to use the park swings or able to respond with compassion when a child in her class takes the last blue crayon.

How do you encourage your daughter to be kind and compassionate?

Image via iStock.com/Christopher Futcher

Read More >