I come from a line of strong willed, yet kind and compassionate women. Kindness was something that was always instilled in me and I like to think I won the lottery in that department. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always have good days and there are some people who seem to garner a negative response in me, as is the case with all of us. It’s hard to be kind to those people, but I often think those are the people who need our kindness the most.
That’s not an easy concept to grasp as an adult, and it’s even harder to put into action at times. So how do we teach kindness to our kids and let them know they should always try to be kind, even when others aren’t kind to them? I think the first place to start is through our own actions. I hope that if my daughter sees me being kind, then she too will be kind, but it’s sometimes hard for her to understand.
During a recent trip to Disneyland, my daughter got a Mickey Mouse balloon animal while we were at dinner. She carried it around for a little while and then decided she didn’t want it anymore, so she wanted to throw it away. I told her there was probably a kid who would really appreciate the balloon, so she should pick a random child and ask if they would like it.
We were in a store where there were children everywhere we looked, but she was so shy and embarrassed, she couldn’t do it. She started getting angry with me for encouraging her to give the balloon to this child or that one. Eventually, she gave the balloon to me. I saw an exhausted father and daughter and asked if the little girl would like the balloon. He said, “Yes, I think she would like that very much.”
I explained to my daughter how easy that small act was, but how happy it probably made that little girl after what was obviously a tiring day. I’m hoping when she gains more confidence, she’ll be able to do random acts of kindness on her own.
Until then, I’ll keep using one of my favorite “momisms” on her, which is “No one will remember what kind of toys you had, but they will remember if you were nice to them.” I say it all the time, especially when my only child daughter gets a little self-centered, as kids are inclined to do. It’s important to me that she understands how kindness begets more kindness.
Unfortunately, I think it’s getting harder and harder in today’s society to teach kindness, but it’s also more important that we do. By being positive examples for our kids and letting them see what kindness is and how it affects others, as well as giving our kids positive messages about kindness, they will learn how to be kind. They will also learn the feeling you get from being kind to someone is such a good feeling and is a much better feeling than the alternative.
This piece was originally posted on StrongTots on September 6, 2015 as part of the Kinder by the Child project.