Creative Child

Kids Value Achievement Above Kindness Because We Do. And it’s Counter-Productive.

by Deborah Song


Kids don’t take our words for face value. They don’t value kindness simply because we tell them to when it’s clearly evident that we care more about their personal achievement and happiness than how they treated their fellow peers.

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If there is an encouraging note, it’s that almost all kids say caring is important to them. Kids and parents value caring. Perhaps we don’t try hard enough to show how much we actually value it. If we truly want to raise the kind of generation that values kindness and harmony above personal achievement, then it will require enough concerted effort to go against our knee-jerk, achievement-obsessed culture. Here are a few places to start. 

  1. Believe that your child is capable of kindness. Set the bar high – same as with their other goals. But unlike high academic or athletic expectations, anticipating kindness won’t induce anxiety. It will encourage your child to believe the best in himself. In reverse, if you presume your child is up to no good, he will likely meet those expectations as well.
  2. Send the right message. Asking your child the right questions is a good place to start. For as many times as you ask your child about how they performed on a test or a game, ask them what they did to extend kindness. Showing kindness, much like any other worthwhile activity, requires practice. And when they do practice kindness, be sure to praise him for it. And because kindness and success aren’t mutually exclusive, if they end up reaching a goal, pay attention to how it was achieved. If the accomplishment was carried out with collaboration, empathy or kindness, double the praise.
  3. Manage destructive reactions. Kids have a general sense of right and wrong by the time they are 5 and 6 years old. And many kids find it easy to be kind when they’re feeling generous or happy. Kindness is challenged when kids feel angry, envious, ashamed, helpless or threatened. That’s when kids compromise kindness. The key is to equip kids with strategies that help them manage these difficult feelings—from teaching them to take a deep breath, repeat a mantra, or enlist the help of a trusted adult instead of taking matters into their own hands.
  4. Teach kids to say sorry. The fear behind saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ is that it incriminates the person who said it. But teach your child that saying sorry doesn’t mean admitting full responsibility and guilt. Sometimes it just means, ‘I never meant to hurt you.’ Learning to say sorry is one of the most important skills in maintaining relationships. No one’s perfect and it’s human to hurt someone despite our best intentions. We just need to teach our kids how to mend the hurt.
  5. Treat your child with respect. Sure, we love our kids and sacrifice a whole lot for them. But are we kind in our interactions with them. When they interrupt us, do we respond with respect and patience? Or are we quick to retort back? There’s no better time to cue in the golden rule than with kids who love to emulate their parents.


Deborah Song is the founder of, a cruelty-free company committed to creating travel accessories that help travelers journey with ease, efficiency and elegance. She loves to travel the globe in pursuit of good food, wider life perspectives and great adventure stories with her kids. Deborah is a Canadian-born, mompreneur and Los Angeles-based writer, who obtained her master’s in journalism from New York University. You can find her travel stories at

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