Inside: Teaching our kids how to be kind begins with parents. Ten small acts of kindness to teach your kids.
Recently, I noticed my tween daughter getting annoyed with a friend that kept texting her. The friend wanted to chat. My daughter was working in an art app and didn’t want to be distracted.
That’s fine, because I encourage my daughter to honor her space and boundaries.
The problem? She was a bit snippy with her response to her friend. It wasn’t kind.
That’s a behavior I don’t encourage, so we sat down to revisit an old conversation: “How to be kind.”
We discussed how to respond with kinder words and less anger. Then we talked about how her terse response might make her friend feel, especially if she needed friend in that moment.
And it led to a bigger conversation not only about kind words, but acts of kindness. Which then had me thinking about me. Am I teaching my daughter about kindness? Is she seeing me as an example of kindness? How can I do better as a parent? What does it mean to be kind. And am I showing enough kindness in my daily life?
Kindness is something that I feel is leaving us a little bit – people are getting more self-involved.Cobie Smulders
What Has Happened to Kindness, Anyway?
When I look around, it seems like fewer people embrace kindness as a trait. It often seems like kindness has been replaced with self-importance and impersonal interactions.
The world seems to be less kind, lately.
If we’re not careful, it can be easy for us parents, and our kids, to put kindness on the back burner.
Why are people less kind these days? And how can we teach our kids to be more kind?
Why does kindness seem to be on the back burner?
Is it because we’ve become a society where the focus is “all about me?”
Showing kindness and teaching our kids to be kind starts with us. The parents. The adults.
Unless we are intentional and mindful in showing our kids how to be kind, they will miss out on learning how to be kind people.
And I have fallen short plenty of times.
What Is Keeping Us From Being Kinder People?
It seems kindness has become less and less important in our lives for many reasons.
We Are Rushing
Life is more fast paced, full of appointments and places to be. It’s hard to take the time to slow down and pay attention to people anymore.
Technology Has Taken Over
Technology has replaced face-to-face and even voice-to-voice interactions. How often do you text instead of call?
I’m guilty. And I get it. A lot of times it’s easier and faster to text.
We spend our time texting, posting, and even getting involved in others drama online.
Heads are down in phones. We no longer reach out to who is having a rough day. Instead, we place an emoji on our social media post or in a text and call it done.
Ever hear the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” It’s true. Want to be more productive? Use this app. Want to order takeout? Use this app.
Are these apps taking away the connectedness and kindness we used to show? Maybe.
We Are More Self-Centered
Our self-centered nature is another reason kindness takes a backseat. So many people are focused on themselves, getting ahead, and doing whatever is necessary to win.
Let me point out, there is nothing wrong with being driven, being competitive, and working towards success.
But it seems there is more emphasis on “me first” and less emphasis on showing kindness to others.”
Our Environment Causes Us to Withdraw
Look around. Fear of strangers and danger has lead people to keep to themselves.
Has anyone ever told you that if you are being mugged or attached, to yell “Fire!” instead of “Help!”
It’s because people are concerned with their own lives. Yelling ”Fire!” will likely elicit a response, whereas if you yell “Help,” they can be more unwilling to get involved.
Our Upbringing Was Different
Let’s be honest, the way we were raised was much different than how kids are raised today.
We trusted each other more. Being kind was taught and emphasized. It’s still taught today, but not as much.
Which brings me to my point:
If we want our kids to be kinder people, we need to be examples of kindness
For our kids to learn kindness, we need to show them how to be kind.
And with everything we have on our plate, it’s easy to put kindness on the back burner.
We’re so busy that it can be hard to squeeze in additional things: taking a meal to a family that is dealing with illness, taking 20 minutes to call a friend to check-in, or running an errand for a neighbor.
But our kids will have a harder time understanding and learning how to be kind if they don’t witness us doing it ourselves.
Being Kind Gets You Nowhere. Or Does It?
You can accomplish by kindness what you cannot by force.”Pubilius Syrus
In talking to my daughter about acting with more kindness, she became frustrated.
“But mom, she won’t listen to me when I’m kind! I tell her nicely that I can’t text right now and she keeps blowing up my phone!”
My daughter didn’t believe that kindness would be effective in this situation. She felt that by being kind, she wasn’t being heard by her friend.
And actually, she wasn’t. Her friend kept texting even after my daughter replied that she wasn’t available at the moment.
But we can still be kind without letting people cross the line.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “nice guys finish last.”
Some people believe that being kind means you are weak and can be easily taken advantage of.
But is this really true?
My daughter felt that being kind wouldn’t work with her friend. But as I explained, you can stick to your boundaries and still be kind.
Kindness does not equal weakness. Actually, it takes a great amount of strength to be kind to someone who isn’t listening, respecting boundaries, or thinks and acts a great deal differently that you.
Being a kind person does not equate letting someone walk all over you, take advantage of you, or disrespect you.
In fact, being kind take more effort, and sometimes, more strength.
Being kind builds character. And being kind is an awesome trait to have. In fact, kind people are often more successful and have more friends than those who don’t.
How kindness helps you and your kids succeed:
- Studies show that kindness increases your self-worth and confidence.
- People remember you when you are kind. Being kind sets you apart from others.
- Kindness creates a sense of trust. People who are kind and warm are more effective than those who lead by being tough and distant.
Why Kindness Is So Important
Even though our world seems to have less kindness these days, we can work to be kinder and teach our kids to be kind to make a difference in the future.
Can you imagine a world without kindness?
Without kindness, we would be filled with conflict, restlessness and anger.
According to Dr. John and Julie Gottman, founders of the Gottman Institute, which studies relationships – every successful relationship is ultimately supported by kindness.
What’s more, they claim the most important time you should be kind is during some type of conflict.
Much like in my daughter’s situation, when you’re in conflict, it can be the most challenging time to be kind.
Just Be Kind
As children and even as adults, we all look for and need kindness. We love and appreciate kindness from our family, our friends, even strangers on the street.
Kindness moves us, nourishes us, heals, strengthens and lifts us up.
So if we know we need kindness, why wouldn’t we help spread kindness?
How to Be a Kinder Person – And Raise Kinder Kids
Do you remember how you felt when you had a tough day and a someone said something kind or did something nice for you?
Or the time you brought your friend a care package in the hospital and she still thanks you for it?
Small actions make a big impact and often lead to giant ripples. Even one small action, even if it’s only sharing some kind words, can completely change the course of someone’s day, or even their life.
So as parents, we should try to do more acts of kindness so our kids learn by example. And also, talk to our kids about how to be kind, so they understand the importance and impact.
We can start with tiny acts of kindness. These small acts of kindness create positive change in two ways; they act as a catalyst for others to start implementing their own small kindnesses and they have a contagious affect on other people.
When we perform tiny acts of kindness, other people see them, get inspired and then act with kindness in their own lives.
Then, our children see us acting with kindness and learn how to be kind by example.
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”Scott Adams
How to Be a Kinder Person
10 Kind Gestures to Teach Your Kids
Here are ten kind gestures you can implement to be an example, and also teach your kids.
- Contribute others by listening when they need a sounding board. This will bring them joy and give you a feeling of connectedness.
- Have compassion for people in need. Allocate time to help others who need help.
- Let go of judgments. Focus on people by connecting with them and showing empathy. No one is perfect. We all have struggles.
- Be a part of a community project. Help clean up a park, neighborhood or local area.
- Donate toys to local organizations that work with children.
- Donate flowers for people in hospices, care homes or women’s homes.
- Deliver a meal to someone whose been down on their luck lately.
- Give and receive compliments with kindness.
- Donate books to your local library or to children in need.
- Be kind to yourself. Don’t put yourself down. Being kind starts with kindness towards yourself.
Final Thoughts on How to Be Kind
After our talk, my daughter saw the importance of responding to her friend with more kindness.
She realized she could be kind and empathetic while still keeping space for her own needs.
What did this look like?
It might look like asking her friend if the matter was urgent. If so, setting aside her art project for awhile to be there for her friend.
Or if it wasn’t urgent, calmly letting her friend know she was busy, but would be there for her later in the day.
The bottom line, she learned another lesson in how to be kind.
Because ultimately, our actions have a bigger impact than we realize. We all need kindness.