Kindness has been on my mind heavily in the last few months. There is such anger and tragedy in the news and the world. I want so badly to fix it for my babies so that they can live in a future without this negativity. If you think about it though, these babies are the solution. In the chaos and unknown of this world, our parenting is something we can control. We can raise our kids to make it better. They are the future, as is said often. I’ve been researching ways to encourage and inspire kindness in our home, and I hope I am not alone.
Here are some ideas I have found on how to encourage kindness in our children.
TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS
Part of empathy is understanding other people’s emotions. This is hard to do without a vocabulary to talk about your own. I find it helpful to model this myself. Talk about your feelings related to their actions. “When you hit your sister, I feel frustrated and sad.” Help them to see how you deal with those feelings and resolve the situation.
Ask them about their feelings in both good and bad situations. Put words to what they are feeling. Our local school district has adopted an Emotional Intelligence curriculum that they are still in the beginning stages of implementing. The Ruler Approach was created by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. They have even created an easy to use app for tracking emotions. My favorite part of this approach is that it takes out the “good vs. bad” association for our emotions.
MAKE ACTS OF KINDNESS A FAMILY RITUAL
This is something that I have vowed to increase in our home. Recently I brainstormed with my kids on ways we can be kind to others. We discussed how kindness makes you feel- how it can be as small as smiling at someone at school. Some of my favorite ideas we came up with:
- Writing a thank you letter to someone at least once a week
- Donate money and time to causes we care about
- Ask someone about their day
- Including someone to play or eat lunch at school
- Give one complement a day
My hope is that if we make this a part of our daily life now, they will continue to put kindness out into the world. I also want to make it as much as possible their ideas. Even at five and seven, they have amazing ideas. A sense of ownership and pride is important. My seven year old has been wanting to help animals and she and I are planning to start volunteering at a cat rescue in the near future.
A great way to introduce this into the home that my kids have found magical is The Kindness Elves. The site and Facebook page are both full of inspiring ideas for acts of kindness that are kid friendly and meaningful. Even if you choose to not include the elves in your home, take a look for ideas!
FILL YOUR BOOKSHELF WITH KINDNESS
I find books to be a great way to open up a conversation about any topic. Whenever we are struggling with a topic or have a change coming up, I search the library catalog for books. I have also learned that a quick google search will yield carefully curated lists of books for any age level on any given topic. Over the years I have found a few favorite books on kindness:
- Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson is particularly great because it gives the reader a chance to see regret at a missed chance for kindness.
- How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath gives easy to understand explanations on kindness for younger kids.
- The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace shows kids participating in acts of kindness and discusses lots of ideas kids can take from.
Here are some book lists I have found particularly helpful:
- Barnes and Noble 8 Books about Kindness
- Doing Good Together has a list of chapter books for older children.
- Doing Good Together has lists for many related ideas and topics worth checking out!
- This book list was compiled by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
I hope you will join me in building a culture of kindness in our kids.
What are some ways you practice kindness in your home?
Please share in the comments!