There’s been a lot of talk about teaching kids to be kind but is “teaching” really the right word to use? Kindness may be something that is more developed than taught and a big part of that development is what they learn from watching us; their parents!
Why does it benefit your kids to be kind?
It may seem like a silly question to ask but it’s worth considering why you are doing something before you start trying to do it.
- Kindness makes you feel better.
- Being kind makes others around us feel better.
- Being kind means you have to consider other people’s perspectives and opinions instead of dismissing them.
And this is just the beginning of a good list! Now ask your kids why they think it’s important to be kind.
So how do I get started?
How the adults in a child’s life act often determines how they will act in the same situation. Here are 5 simple ways to bring more kindness into your life so your kids can learn from you:
- Say please and thank you. We often remind our kids to be kind to the people they interact with during their day but do you say “thank you” to the person who makes your coffee, opens the door for you, or “please” when asking for something? And remember to express gratitude for the people who care for you even when they are not around. Like, “Grandma is so nice to call to wish us a ‘Happy Anniversary!'”
- Plan together to help someone else. Include your kids in the preparation of a meal for a new mother. Or help them to plan a birthday party for dad. During the planning, talk about why you like to do things for other people. Ask your child about things they have done for other people. Bring your child to deliver the meal. Have them play a part in the actual birthday party day. And talk about how they felt doing something for someone else.
- Point out the kindness. Kids hear the word “kind” but do they know what it means? Or maybe the word is so overused they roll their eyes when they hear it. So instead of just talking about how kind they should be, point out the kindness in others. “Your friend, Emily, was really kind when she let you borrow her book the other day…” or “I saw your teacher volunteering at the fundraiser. That was a very thoughtful thing for her to do…”
- Look beyond your own situation to consider others. Maybe the person who is driving slow in front of you is a new driver. Or the curt cashier just had rough night with a newborn. Instead of reacting with negativity to these situations, consider the eyes from the back seat or the hand you are holding in line before responding with more negativity. Being kind can mean… keeping quiet.
- Focus on the good stuff. Instead of pointing out all of the bad in the world, point out the goodness in the situations and people around you. When you look for the good in people, your children will too. And, by cultivating a sense of appreciation and positive perspective, kindness will be much easier to achieve.
Wait. Do you mean it begins with me?
Isn’t that exciting?! You don’t have to wait for kindness to come your way before showing it to others. It’s an important lesson kids need to learn from adults. While it can be a huge struggle, being kind even in the face of unkindness is an important lesson for kids to learn. In the end, they will be much more of a respected adult if they can be confident enough to be kind in a challenging world.
Check our Military Kids Life Magazine!
Winner of a 2016 Parents’ Choice Recommended Award, MILITARY KIDS’ LIFE magazine is filled with articles, essays, and photographs on life as a military kid. Use our FREE downloadable Educator’s Guide to weave our magazine into your lesson plans! We offer tips, fun ideas, and focus on opportunities for adventure as a military kid. The magazine also covers difficult topics like deployments, frequent moving, and dealing with physical and emotional issues. Bright and vibrant in both content and creation, MILITARY KIDS’ LIFE is a high-quality magazine written by military kids and military-connected freelance writers for ages 6 and up!
Janine Boldrin is a freelance writer and mom of three. She is the Creative Director of MILITARY KIDS’ LIFE magazine, where they encourage kids to see the bright side of life as a military kid. Learn more at www.chameleonkids.com. Follow her on social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.