As a mom, I find myself constantly thinking of the lessons I’m teaching my kids. I’ve found that the most important focus for our family has been kindness.
A Mom's Perspective
I’d like to meet the mom who hasn’t spent hours awake in the middle of the night worrying about her kids. Where is she?
My guess is that mom doesn’t exist. My guess is that ALL of us, at one point or another, have stressed about our kids. But the things we worry about are probably all different. I used to ask myself - Am I preparing my kids for real life? Am I giving them the tools they need to be successful? Recently, though, I’ve thought about what’s really important for me to teach my kids. It’s not how to write a check or how to decide what they want to do when they’re older. That’ll come. Now, I focus (for the most part) on just one thing - Am I raising good humans?
It’s different for every family, and I never want to tell another mother or father how to parent. For our family, teaching kindness is key. It sticks with my kids - they understand and resonate with the concept and feeling of being kind. So that’s what we focus on the majority of the time, and I wanted to share my tips and tricks for talking about kindness with your kids.
Tips for Teaching Kindness in Your Family
1. Start Small
My oldest daughter has this shirt that I absolutely love. It says, “Change the World” in big letters across the front (pictured below). When she wears it, I can tell she’s feeling positive and powerful. As a mom, I hope to empower my kids to always feel that way.
At the same time, I try to teach them that to change the world, we can all do something close to home and still have a big impact. As the saying goes, “No act of kindness, however small, is eve wasted.” It doesn’t have to be global to matter. Donating old toys, being kind to a neighbor, even helping a sibling with his or her chores, goes a long way in making the world a better, more positive place.
2. Learn from your kids
My daughter once came to me with this quote - she said, “Kindness is like a boomerang, it always comes back.” It made me stop and think. Kids are smart and intuitive – more than we give them credit for, a lot of the times. (Now, she probably thinks “boomerang” is referring to a video that bounces back and forth, but we’ll let that go.) The point is, kids understand a lot! They can participate in honest and meaningful conversations. As a mom, I try and keep those conversations going whenever I can.
3. Help your kids teach themselves!
Do you ever think about how much more you remember things that you’ve discovered on your own, rather than things people have taught you from their experiences? It’s because your personal experiences resonate with you, so you understand them better. And the better you understand something, the more likely to remember it.
What does that have to do with teaching your kids kindness? Well, my daughter once told me a story of a boy in her class who let her borrow his colored pencils when she realized she had forgot them at home. My daughter came back home touched by the boy’s kindness. I took the opportunity to ask her things like “how did that make you feel?” and “how do you think you can help other people feel that way?” These questions helped her identify the boy’s actions as kindness, and to understand how to pay it forward.