“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain
Kindness is a universal language. All people can understand it, all people can feel it and all people can dish it out. Kindness is about overlooking differences. Kindness is about not seeing disabilities. Kindness is about caring for human kind. Kindness is placing someone else above you. Kindness makes us feel good because we make others feel good. Webster adds that kindness means supplying someone’s wants or alleviating their distresses.
So now that kindness has been somewhat defined in my laymen terms, let’s try to figure out how in the world we can teach our children, the most important next generation, kindness. Trust me when I say that I am still working on teaching my children kindness. And some days, when mama is tired and all touched out and cannot hear another whine unless I am holding some wine, well, those are my weakest days. I can honestly say that I am not so kind to my children in my weak moments. I have to remind myself that if we show others (including our precious children) kindness, that is just a start. Whether you work or stay at home or somewhere in between hopefully the below will help guide you.
So here are 5 ways to teach kindness to your kids. And they all intertwine as well:
1| BE KIND | “Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.” W.E.B DuBois
Easiest way for teaching kindness to your children is for you to have manners and be kind to others. Sounds simple, right? Well, it would be if EVERYONE followed this rule. There are mean people out there that are either reacting to someone else’s meanness or just plain mean. Yes, I said that. Mean people stink and it can turn into a chain of meanness. I know it is hard mamas but we need to show our kids how to keep our cool in times of heavily angered moments. Guilty as charged. Children are actually born with an innate sense of empathy that they show towards other kids, their parents, stuffed animals and even pets. However, it occasionally fights with their impulse control which is developmentally appropriate. You know when they can’t control all.those.feelings just building up in them especially when they can’t get a toy that they just know will solve all their current problems. My children at times can be so friendly. They will smile or wave at someone. My introverted nature gets embarrassed and tells them to stop but that is actually showing kindness. And maybe that person needed a wave and a smile from a cute copper headed child.
2 | BE SELFLESS | “Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of selfish individualism.” Pope Francis
We are selfish beings in order to survive this “Doggy Dogg World.” Oh, Snoop Dogg, it is a “crazy mixed up world” so we use our constant fight vs flight reaction to make sure our personal, selfish needs are met which fights with our natural empathetic selves especially in the early years of childhood. And part of the long laundry list of a mom’s job is to nurture and guide. Nurturing shows compassion; kindness and guiding shows them the right way to act or react in normal situations. We need to teach them to stay and fight BUT fight with a deep and open heart. Teach your child to give as well as share. And teach your children to serve others. Give food to the homeless, pray for others, or just help someone in need. When you see someone crying, console them, give a simple hug. This world is too small for a bunch of selfish egos. If we always thought of others before ourselves then trust me, our needs will be met if not by us but by someone else.
3 | BE GRATEFUL | “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Marcus Tullius Cicero
Gratitude. It is such a simple term yet I feel we under use it as a society of marketing unnecessary products (i.e. candy and toys to kids) and the practice of more is more. We have running water, food in the fridge (at least after my H-E-B trip) and beds to sleep on yet my children and myself always.want.more. I want my children to have full awareness growing up that this “life” comes at a price and not all earthly beings live this way. I want my children to understand, as soon as they can grasp it, to constantly be grateful. Always encourage them to see with wide open eyes. Even question what they see. Gratitude is a function of our attention. Wake up each day and be grateful. Your children will see it, hear it, and act it as well. Let’s change our attitude to gratitude.
4 | BE PRESENT | “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” Abraham Maslow
Being present these days IS HARD! As a parent, mother, caretaker, your brain is always in the future. Planning, scheduling, gathering. Don’t get me wrong, planning for the future for tonight’s dinner to feed your hungry littles or packing for a swimming escapade, is necessary. We all know this fact. However, when we actually sit down and are present with our children during the day, it shows such kindness to them and their precious time here with us. They can see that NOW matters. Because NOW is all that is guaranteed so why not be in the NOW. I promise our kids will feel it and the kindness we show them will blossom in their hearts.
5 | BE UNITED | “Mother Earth is a living organism too. Love, honor and respect her.”
As a Jesus follower and someone who tends to sway more toward the natural side of things, I believe that all humans can relate to the quote above. We must unite as one and help take care of our earth and all the many living organisms in it. When we teach our children to take care of the earth such as the hows and whys of recycling (just one example), they will grow up with this inner need to think before they dump and do. It also teaches manners, such as pick up after yourself. Do not throw trash on the sidewalk, better yet, pick up other people’s trash and throw it away. GASP! GERMS! I know, but let’s be real, they can get nasty germs just about anywhere. Wash their hands. This also has to do with waste. We need to always think about what we are putting in and out of our bodies as well as our environment.
At the end of the day, The Beatles say it best…”All You Need Is Love, Love, Love; Love is All You Need.” We need to just be kind, always thinking of others, show gratitude in the presence and unite!