Not Just Taught, But Caught
We have been looking at the topic of kindness and how it fits into our theme for this year “It’s Still Not About Me.” In my last article we talked about how important it is to develop kindness in our children and that even Harvard understands this and is making it an important part of their application process.
I think we can all agree that we want our children to be kind people when they become adults. The big question then is how do we develop and encourage kindness in our children? The good news is that it can be taught, or rather, it can be “caught.” The most important way to develop kindness in our kids is to model it for them. Science has shown that we have a predisposition towards kindness, that it is innate and part of who we are when we are born. The key then is for children to see it modeled by people around them and this comes from their interaction with their parents, siblings, and friends. So how can we model kindness for our kids?
Be Kind to Your Spouse. Our kids are watching how mom and dad treat each other. Be kind to each other and let them see that. It can be as simple as opening the door for her or showing appreciation for dinner.
Random Acts of Kindness: It is one thing to be kind to each other within your family but it takes it to a whole new level when your kids see you act kind to strangers. Do random acts of kindness with your kids and have them be part of it with you.
Use the Word Thank You: Don’t just say thank you to strangers but say thank you to your kids when they do something worthy of your thanks.
Be Grateful: Entitled kids are rarely kind because they see the world as owing them something. Help them understand that the blessings they have should motivate them to be kind to others.
This is not just for our younger children. Teenagers can be influenced and encouraged to be kind by seeing the adults around them model it for them. Science has proven that kindness is “contagious” so if we want our kids to be kind and generous people, it starts with us.