I decided a long time ago that if I did everything else wrong with my kids, they would be nice people if it killed me. I was bullied mercilessly in junior high and in high school and I vowed that my kids would never be the mean girls. For the most part my girls are nice, nice enough that their teachers comment about it regularly. But, they aren’t perfect.
Last night my seven-year-old made a comment about a heavyset woman on television. Now, it was a rather innocent observation but it still wasn’t very kind. Which made me realize, maybe I need to take a little more time helping them understand every aspect of being kind.
Here are a few things I’ve learned that have helped me ensure my kids know what kindness really means:
Listen to Thumper’s mama
You are probably familiar with the character Thumper from Bambi. Every time he starts to say something unkind his mom makes him recite a rule, “If you can’t say something nice than don’t say nothin’ at all.” Make sure you are following this rule. Pay attention to how you talk to your children.
I was shocked a few weeks ago, when I observed a father berating his daughter for the outfit she’d worn to school. He went on and on about how he couldn’t believe her mom let her go to school dressed like a slob. You would have thought she rolled in mud on her way out the door. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It took everything I had not to turn around and clock him.
Don’t berate your kids if you want them to be kind. Make sure you are setting an example of kindness so they know how to be kind.
Let your kids see you take a stand
I can be a chicken when it comes to standing up when I see something wrong, but I try to step in when I can.
One morning while I was taking my oldest to school I saw an older boy (probably fifth or sixth grade) corner a smaller boy against the wall and start yelling at him. My first grader looked at me in shock. I walked over and asked if everything was okay. The older boy took off and the younger kid just grunted and ran away. I made sure to report the incident to the office and took a few minutes to talk to my daughter about what had happened. I just needed my daughter to see that it was not okay to walk away when you see something like that happening and it was not okay to treat other kids like that. Simply taking time to make sure they understand how to handle that type of behavior can go a long way to creating kind kids.
Let your kids serve
When we were kids, my mom always made sure we were involved in some sort of service project. Whether we were stopping by an elderly neighbor’s house to say hello or helping on bigger projects, my mom helped us recognize that no matter how bad our situation, someone else had it worse. Kids are observant they are likely to notice, and comment on the clothes kids wear or things other kids don’t have. If you can find an age-appropriate activity to help your little ones help those who aren’t as fortunate, they will be able to see that the kids are just kids who have less. It is hard to be unkind when you learn to enjoy the feeling of helping others.
How else would you teach your kids to be kind?
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