Creative Child

Why Nice is an Overlooked Trait and How to Raise the Kind of Nice Kids that Finish First

by Deborah Song

In this culture where prestige and accomplishment are praised, traditional qualities that were once valued, like how nice someone is, have taken a back seat. If anything, “nice” is often seen as a deterrent to winning or getting what you want.

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We have come to value instead qualities like assertiveness, without realizing that the two qualities don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s hard to be a good leader, employee, spouse or citizen if you haven’t developed the patience, manners, empathy, and humility to help others. Here’s how to raise the kind of nice children that finish first. 

  • Have a win-win mentality. Seeing life as a cooperative arena and not a competitive one requires believing there is plenty of success out there. It requires focusing on the long-term goals of who you want your child to become versus on the more short term goals, like winning a single game. When you teach your child to share recognition and be happy for others, he will gain the respect and mutual support of another peer, teammate and friend.
  • Invest in others. There is a thrill and sense of empowerment that comes from knowing you have the ability to help someone. When you’re little, you might not be able to make grand gestures. But even a kind encouraging word, donating a birthday gifts you’ve received, or passing a ball to a teammate, is a great place to start in experiencing the kind of fulfillment that comes from helping someone. Those who have taken the time to invest in others naturally learn to feel good about themselves and their ability to help others, instead of finding their worth through accomplishments, which is a pressure that produces anxiety. 
  • Develop good manners. Manners are nothing more than making it a habit to be considerate and polite. Learning to say thank you or excuse me, giving good eye contact when speaking to someone or waiting your turn to get in the elevator will go a long way.
  • Become good listeners. Good listeners are never without a plethora of friends because most people want to be heard before they listen. Good listeners also make some of the best leaders. The best way to teach this is to our kids is to role model this in our own relationships and when we talk to our children.
  • Practice gratitude. Feeling thankful is often thought of as a dutiful thing to do. And while we certainly should teach our kids to be grateful for the good things in their lives, gratitude also services the self in the end. Learning to be thankful paves the way for optimistic thoughts, which eventually leads to confidence. When you feel good about the outlook on your own life, you can be happy for others too. But gratitude, like everything else, requires practice. One way to practice gratitude is through a gratitude journal, which has proven to improve health, quality of sleep and a person’s overall well-being.

One thing to remember when trying to raise the kind of nice kids who finish first is that it takes time and investment. Just as it takes time to teach a child how to be competitive and how to learn from their mistakes, it also takes time to raise well-mannered, thoughtful, empathetic, charitable future citizens of our world.

Deborah Song is a Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based writer, who obtained her master's in journalism from New York University. She is the founder of worklifeparent.com, and is passionate about helping parents find better work-life balance and proper support through community.

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