3 Simple Ways to Teach Your Children to Love Others
Love without judgment starts at home.
The Talmud teaches that the second temple in Jerusalem was destroyed because of sinat chinam, baseless hatred of one another. In every generation the Jewish people are called upon to rectify this by practicing ahavat chinam, loving others freely without judgment. It’s not easy but we can do it and it starts at home.
Here are three simple ways to teach our children to love freely without judgment:
1. He probably didn't mean it:
Teach your kids the concept of giving others the benefit of the doubt.
The best way to do that is by role modeling. We can train ourselves to think well of our family members and avoid attributing ulterior motives to their behavior.
“My husband left his bowl in the sink, because he is inconsiderate!”
“My daughter is not cleaning her room because she is lazy!”
“My son took apart his toy because he doesn’t appreciate or take care of his things.”
When we attribute negative motives to our family’s behavior, it generally makes us angry. And when we’re angry, we tend to say what we think out loud, accusing them for their lack of consideration, appreciation, and their laziness.
If we assume that their intentions were positive then we are less likely to get angry, it is easy to judge our family in a favorable way:
“My husband is generally thoughtful, he must have been in a big rush this morning to leave his bowl in the sink like that.”
“My daughter is acting like a regular teen. Cleaning is not high on their list of priorities.”
“My son loves to take things apart and see how things work. He is just being curious.”
We can tell our family members about our thought process, giving them a living example of how giving the benefit of the doubt works: “I was pretty upset about your broken toy, but then I figured I would give you the benefit of the doubt. You really wanted to see how it worked, huh?”
2. Teach them to think of others:
It's the summer time, perhaps your child is a veteran camper at his summer camp. Kids are generally egocentric and they don't know how to put themselves in another person’s shoes. They might not even think that he can help those new campers navigate the choppy waters of making new friends. It’s best if we point out ways that they can help
When our children come home from their first day we can ask:
“Any new kids in your bunk? What did you do to make them comfortable?”
If we send our kids to sleep away camp, before they get on the bus we can give them a quick reminder to help the new kids in their bunk.
3. Don’t Speak Gossip:
We all know that speaking gossip is damaging, yet children overhear it all the time.
“I can’t believe that Stan bought that house. What a dumb move it is falling apart!”
“That Sara is such a klutz - this is the second accident she got in!”
“Did you see what Shana was wearing yesterday? She has no clue how to dress.”
Listening to a constant stream of negativity teaches our kids to judge others and poisons relationships. Our kids can grow fearful, worried
that they will also be judged just as harshly. So be aware of your speech and strive to make your home a gossip-free zone.
Teaching kids to love others without judgment is one of the most important lessons we need to impart. Teaching them to give the benefit of the doubt, reminding them to think of others, and avoiding gossip are three effective ways to impart this value.