In our family KINDNESS LIFTS us. It’s something we value, and as a parent, one thing I have worked hard to nurture. For me, being kind is one of the most important qualities I can instil in my children. In fact, research shows that kindness lifts us all – both the giver and the receiver.
Here are some of the things I’ve found to work. Try including these into your week and see if you can get ‘helpers high’ happening. It’s addictive – your kids will come back to you asking for more, as feel good hormones flood their brains. Don’t believe me just yet? Try these out for yourself.
1) Prioritise Kindness for Family and Friends
Remind and encourage your children to notice the difference it makes when they’re kind. At bed time, I’ll sometimes ask them who were the ‘Queens and Kings of Kindness today?’ Encouraging them to tell the stories of what they or others did to be kind and the impact of this. You could amplify this by reading stories containing kind acts and talking with them about it.
You’ll want to make kindness cool and at the same time, have them realise “this is just what we do around here”. We ARE a KIND Family. For ideas go to https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas
2) Model Kind and Compassionate behaviours outside the home.
Children are acutely attuned to what we, as their parents, value and behaviours like kindness, are both taught and caught. It’s a matter of ‘practice what you preach’. As a parent, I have gone to extreme lengths at times, to demonstrate this to my kids, particularly when it comes to modelling kindness with those less fortunate.
My children will tell stories of me offering money to someone searching the bin for food, offering rides to elderly people from the GP clinic, stopping to cheer up a crying child or reaching out to friends and neighbours with the mantra – ‘a friend in need, is a friend indeed”. As children learn ethical values by observing adults, be aware of the values you’re demonstrating each day and openly practice empathy, kindness and compassion for family and beyond.
3) Help your children practice kindness using creativity and courage.
Like anything, children need to practice being kind and caring toward others. To make this a fun and engaging activity, I sometimes set them a kindness challenge ‘What’s the kindest thing you can do for others with 10 dollars? This requires them to be creative but also courageous as they approach strangers with kindness.
They may buy flowers to give to neighbours, pay for someone’s coffee, buy ingredients to make cupcakes, or simply help people at the supermarket by returning their trolley. Give them some guidance and see what they come up with, talk about it at the dinner table or get them to write or draw about the outcomes. Often my kids are bubbling with excitement about the difference they have made.
Do you feel like you could use a little help cultivating kindness in your family, or want to discover how to bring out the best in yourself and your children? Check out our NEW online Positive Parent Coaching here.
Reference: Joyce, A, 2014, Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind, The Washington Post, July 18th, accessed at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/18/are-you-raising-nice-kids-a-harvard-psychologist-gives-5-ways-to-raise-them-to-be-kind/