We all want our children to be smart and do well at school but, more than that, we want them to be happy and responsible, respectful and kind. Helping children learn and practice kindness can be a new year’s resolution that impacts them for a lifetime.
There are different approaches that we can use to help children be kind. As with many behaviors, children respond to the example of adults around them. When they see us being kind, they are more likely to be kind themselves. We need to acknowledge when we see them making an effort to be kind. Rather than rewarding their behavior, we can smile and let them we noticed by saying something as simple as “I see you doing something kind. Did you know that was kind?” That also sends the message that we think being kind is important.
Children need to hear the words that we use that indicate kindness, such as thanking others or asking “Can I help you?” Showing is another strategy. For instance, instead of grabbing the cat, we can hold a child’s hand and show how to gently pat. Kids seem to absorb ideas in stories so reading books about being kind is also effective. “How Kind” by Mary Murphy is a simple book for younger toddlers. “I See Kindness Everywhere” by Shelley Frost is the story of a child who recognizes the kind actions of others. There are many other books and stories that we can share.
Can the kindness of children make a difference? Absolutely! All on her own, Emma, the young girl in this picture, had an idea of how she could help. She grew her hair long so that she could donate it to make a wig for children who have lost their own hair. She is now six, but she started much earlier because hair takes a long time to grow. You can see the length in the piece she is holding. She is proud of her action, as she should be, and so is everyone else. What a kind heart she has and compassion for others.
We have all heard the quote “No act of kindness, however small is ever wasted.” Just recently, Gandalf had another one in the the movie The Hobbit, “It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.” Lately, there has been much darkness but the future is very much in our children. How do you help your child be kind?