Our children constantly face an onslaught of information and activities. With so many learning opportunities, we can at times forget what is truly important in forming these little humans. What truly matters when our kids leave the classrooms or lie in bed at the end of a long day?
Are we teaching and raising our children to become good people? Have we taught them and modeled compassion? Have we taught and illustrated the importance of helping others? Do our children know how to be kind? Does our society at large reward and encourage acts of kindness? Kindness is not an innate trait but rather must be taught and encouraged by us.
What is kindness?
“Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern and consideration for others. It is considered a virtue, and is recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.” 1 (Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia, n.d.) Why is kindness important? Why is this virtue a valuable necessity that must be nurtured in our community? Most importantly, why is it an important value to teach our children?
Help teach kids kindness with these book #commissionearned:
- Kindness Spot
- Kindness Starts With You At School
- Mindful Kids: 50 Mindfulness Activities for Kindness, Focus and Calm
- Be Kind
Kindness matters because it “strengthens social relationships, but it can also show that choices have an impact.” 2 (Revord & Sonja Lyubomirsky, n.d.) We are a community of individuals, and in this village, we are responsible for one another. Our community becomes stronger when we intentionally and consciously go out of our way to build up and help others. When we live in an empowered community, we become empowered.
Character Lab 3
Character lab 3 (Character Lab, n.d.) provides scientifically backed data in “ways to build character in kids with actionable advice for parents and teachers.” The kindness playbook forces us to reflect on ourselves, asking if we go beyond our comfort zone to be kind as well as making us reflect on the impact of our actions upon others. Are we intentionally and consciously kind? Could we do more for others and ourselves? The authors suggest the following meditation:
— “I pay attention to what other people want or need to try to figure out how I can help” them.
— I intentionally leave my comfort zone “to do favors for others, speak up to support them, share what I have, or simply listen when they need a friend.”
— “I consciously make small sacrifices to be kind to others.”
— “I try to think about how much my actions mean to others instead of how much of a burden they are for me.”
Books to help kids build character: #commissionearned
In what ways can we encourage kindness in others?
The contributing authors of the Kindness playbook ask us to model kindness, to celebrate kindness and to enable kindness. By modeling kind behavior, we are teaching our children that this is an expected and desired way to behave. The writers suggest that we brainstorm with our children ways that we can be kind and helpful. “Work with the young people in your life to become kindness detectives who are constantly alert to others’ needs or wants.” When we notice our children going out of their way to help others it is important to praise them as well as explain the impact that this behavior had on the other individual. If our children are clear of the effects of their actions, they may feel good about themselves and learn to thrive off being kind to others. Finally, we should attempt to make kindness a habit by talking through possible scenarios in which our children could go out of their way to help others. “Planning what to do in future situations can make the decision happen more naturally when they arise.” 2 (Revord & Sonja Lyubomirsky, n.d.)
I invite you to join us in our attempt to intentionally be more kind to ourselves, to others and to the planet, as well as to make the effort to instill this virtue upon our children. Kindness, like any other attribute, is one that must be instilled and practiced. Let’s nurture this attribute so it becomes like second nature. What a lovely world this can be if we were just kinder to one another.
I invite you to check out our friends at CharacterLab.org for other topics on helping kids build character.
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