5 simple ways to raise kind and compassionate kids

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1 January 1970

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Be kind to yourself as well as others, says Suzy. She shares five tips for creating a kinder future by raising compassionate kids.

It’s amazing how a simple act of kindness can mean so much. Something as small as sharing a smile can make a person’s day.

Recently I was invited to speak to 800 gorgeous tamariki, across two sessions, for the Kind Hearts in Schools programme in Palmerston North. These children were just a small sample from classes across the Manawatu, but the kids really understood the message.

My role as a guest speaker was to celebrate their knowledge and to remind these beautiful souls that being kind to yourself is just as important as sharing that smile with someone else.

In an ideal world, we would all grow up in loving homes where kindness is second nature and something that is shared with our community. But in this busy world, where we often don’t see our neighbours, let alone get to know them, and the stresses of finances, work and relationships can be overwhelming, we may forget to show kindness to our children – and to ourselves.

When was the last time you were kind to you? Hopefully your “head talk” is humorous and positive. Hopefully, you don’t berate yourself, doubt yourself or put yourself down. Lord knows I have, but I’ve also learnt that the moment the negative talk starts you need to stop and turn it around.

OK, we do need to acknowledge our mistakes, our indiscretions and even our faults. By doing so, we can identify issues and more easily make change, but these are just a small part of us and don’t define who we are. The moment we start being kinder to ourselves, the nicer we can be to others and our little ones, who mimic us on so many levels and will hopefully become more compassionate humans themselves.


I shared a “handy” tip with the participants of the Kind Hearts event – the five fingers of kindness. Or as one poppet kindly pointed out: “Four fingers and one thumb, Suzy!”

Thumb Have a thumbs-up, positive attitude. Know that everything will be OK and there is always someone to help you when you need help.

Pointing finger Point out the good people around you, the good things in your day, and feel gratitude. Watch or read things that leave you feeling good. Dance, sing and have fun.

Tallest finger Kia kaha! Stand strong and proud, and believe in yourself because you are awesome!

Ring finger Love yourself. Look in the mirror, look down at your toes and see how beautiful you are. You are loved by so many. Allow yourself to be loved for who you are, because you are amazing.

Pinky finger Promise to be kind to yourself every day. Laugh at your mistakes, eat good food, drink lots of water, get lots of sleep, do things that make you feel good and spend time with people who uplift you.


With the littlest people, have them practise being kind to their toys and to members of your whānau. Kind hands are gentle hands.

Emphasise kind words, kind thoughts and kind actions. Acknowledge when they’re being thoughtful. “That was very kind of you putting the books away without being asked. Thank you!”


Help your tamariki look for the good in others and in themselves. What was the best part of the day? Best food? Best thing they heard? Best thing they saw or read? What acts of kindness have they noticed in their day? What acts of kindness have they done? Share stories of your own to get the ball rolling.


Encourage random acts of kindness within the whānau. Maybe encourage kids to say or write little notes of support to their siblings.


Continue to model kindness to your children, including being kind to yourself. It will make a huge difference to you and to your whānau who learn from you on so many levels. Domeone once said to me the aim is to “treat your children the way you want them to treat your grandchildren”. Food for thought.

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