Kindness and my children
Recently in writing about what worried me the most in relation to motherhood, these were the words I wrote: “I don’t worry about my children being poor, I worry about the world being kind to them, I worry that they must not carry the burden of the judgement of others through their lives, I worry that they will be safe and sound and that they will have an opportunity to follow their passion and have a fulfilling life.” Kindness does not seem to be a naturally occurring response anymore.
Even now, these words are still true, even though the world we live in, is often-times far more cruel than it is kind, and even young children somehow have learned the power that comes with cruelty. With all of this in mind, I still believe that we, as their parents, can influence our children to actively choose kindness.
Just to set the scene, we have two wonderful, fun, gorgeous, intelligent boys. TheHeir is 9 years old, and his brother TheSpare, will turn two years old in a month’s time. My kids have their own challenges, one has ADHD and struggles with impulsive behaviour; our younger son has a congenital facial paralysis, which impacts one side of his face. It is hard enough to be a child, with all the expectations that the world heaps on you, but to be a child with a difference, now that, takes the difficulty to the next level.
With all that being said, I believe that you need to bring into the world what you want to receive. So, I strive to teach kindness to my children, but also to model in my own behaviour what kindness looks like. Here are a few ways I would like to share with you:
KINDNESS AT HOME
- We try to always be kind to our children, and to those we live with. We as the parents must display and model kindness in our own thinking, words and actions, so that children know what kindness LOOKS and FEELS like.
- We talk a lot about kindness in our family, we remind ourselves after every interaction, by asking the question “Do you think that was a kind thing to do?”, “Do you think your friend felt you were being kind?”
- We surround ourselves with those who are conscious about doing acts of kindness, in the way they speak and act. “Rude and unkind people?” Do not get invited again to our household – I see no reason to have that around my children.
- We watch what we tolerate in our children’s behaviour, even towards each other. We do not tolerate sibling rivalry in our home. TheSpare is still at the stage where his pushes and shoves to get his point across, as he is still developing his speech, even though he is still young this is not tolerated and is actively discouraged.
KINDNESS AT SCHOOL
- TheHeir, struggles to make friends because he is so impulsive, but over time he has made a few good friends. This has taught him and us, how important it is to display kindness to the child that has no one to play with at school. When we chat about his day, and how he experienced the other kids in his class. Sometimes I ask the following questions to get the conversation going: “Who did you play with today, my boy?”, “What did you enjoy the most?”, “Was there someone who didn’t have anyone to play with today?”, “Why do you think they had no friends?”, “Do you think you can play with him a little bit tomorrow, so just he doesn’t feel lonely?”. These questions allow us to get the conversation going and for him to consider how other feel in certain situations. It also guides him to figure out for himself that he can do something about the situation.
KINDNESS THROUGH GIVING
- We live in a country with a high unemployment rate. For many children this means they get new clothes once a year if at all, and sometimes even go to bed hungry. For TheHeir, we always remind him that giving to others is a blessing. Every 6 months we go through his room and pack away good quality clothes, toys, books, etc. that he gives to someone who needs it. We as adults also do the same. We want him to understand that there are others who NEED these things and that for them it is not just a WANT. It has been a joy to see that as he gets older, he is taking the initiative to give to those in need.
These are just a few suggestions that we have tried; hopefully, these will inspire you to find practical ways of modelling kindness to your children. We have personally seen the results especially with TheHeir; TheSpare on the other hand, is a work in progress, so we will continue to be kind to him until he turns three. Until then, we will continue demonstrating it through our actions.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how to teach kindness to kids? Please leave a comment.
“This piece was originally posted on StrongTots as part of the Kinder by the Child project,” visit StrongTots to read more personal accounts of instilling kindness into our children.