One of the character traits my husband and I would like to instill in our children is kindness.
We want our kids to not only be kind to one another, but to others as well.
Nothing makes my heart swell more than when I see my child be kind to another person. Whether it’s just using kind manners, sharing toys, or helping others in need, it makes me so proud when they are kind.
So, how do we instill the act of kindness into our children?
If I want to raise my children to be kind, I must show acts of kindness first.
Children learn by watching what others are doing, especially their parents. The actions of parents can have a huge impact on a child’s behaviors. They will do what you do.
So, I have been working on showing act of kindness throughout my days with my children. I hold open the door for others, I am kind to the wait staff at a restaurant, I give food and drink to the homeless.
I may not always be perfect at this, but I try.
I also try to be kind to my children. I help them with things, and do small favors for them, just because.
One of my favorite parenting phrases is
Praise what you want to raise.
When I catch my children being nice to one another I make a point to tell them that I like how kind they are acting. I’ll say something like “I like how you helped your brother, that was very kind”, or “Thank you so much for helping me, I really appreciate your kindness”.
By praising the behaviors that I like, they are more likely to do them again.
Doing Acts of Kindness Together
This goes back to the modeling idea, and adds to it. Modeling works so much better when you can include your child into the act of kindness.
I find that I’m pretty good at showing small acts of kindness to strangers I run into, and throughout my daily life with my family, but I struggle with showing larger acts of kindness to friends.
I want to be a better friend, and I want my child to be a good friend as well. So, I’m working together with him to show acts of kindness to our friends.
Right now, I have a friend who’s husband is out of town for a few months. She’s the Mom of three little girls, and I know how hard it is to solo parent for that long.
I want to help her out. So, I sat down with my 4 year old and we made a plan.
We’ve decided to:
- Take her dinner two times over the next few months.
- Invite the children over for a playdate and lunch, so Mom can get a break.
- Make them cards and sweet notes of encouragement to have when they miss their Dad.
To me, this is a doable plan, and it feels good to help this family out, and it feels good to have my son be a part of it.
My challenge for you, is to find a way to show kindness to a friend, and do it with your child.
- Mail “just because I like you” letters to friends.
- Do something nice for a friend in need.
- Take a meal to a struggling family.
- Find a way to be a Friend In Deed!