One lesson we can learn from these challenging times is the importance of kindness.
We have seen kindness in so many forms through the pandemic: people bringing meals to front line workers, teachers taking extra care of students who need to be out of school on quarantine, neighbors shopping for those uncomfortable with being in public. We have been thrilled to see our Mason Prep students supporting their communities in many wonderful ways, too. Kindness, thoughtfulness, and citizenship are important parts of a Mason Prep education, so we are proud to see our students putting these into practice!
Hearing about thoughtful acts has made many parents think about what they can do to raise a kind child who will grow up to contribute positively to his or her community. Saying “please” and “thank you” and being polite is wonderful, but how do we instill true kindness in our children? Read on for some ways to inspire and nurture kindness in your child.
#1 Modeling Kind Behavior Most importantly, parents need to keep in mind that children are always listening to what you say and watching what you do.
Talking with a friend on the way home from school? Those little ears in the backseat are picking up on both what you say and how you say it.
Take your children along when you volunteer. Make a family day of working in a community garden or taking meals to those in need so your children can see a concrete example of how to be engaged in the community.
Use positive language and affirmations. Let your children hear you sincerely compliment others and take care to not comment simply on physical appearance. Instead of, “You look so cute in that dress,” try “You did such a great job tying your shoes all by yourself.” This will encourage your child to think about individuals as more than what they can see on the outside.
#2 Small Steps Can Have A Big Impact Acts of kindness do not need to be large gestures. They can be small things that brighten someone’s day. Show your child that kindness is easy and doesn’t cost anything – it’s simply thinking about others.
Start doing random acts of kindness. Text a photo of your child’s artwork to his or her grandparents. Hold the door open for someone at the store. Leave a sticky note with a kind message on the bathroom mirror at school. Fill a container with ideas and try to do one each day.
Encourage your child to have lunch or play with a different person each day (especially with a child that may look lonely).
When you talk with your child about his day, be sure to include how he showed kindness or if he saw someone else showing kindness.
Start a kindness jar. When you see a family member doing something kind, put a coin in the jar. Do something fun as a family with the money.
Consider starting your day with a family morning mantra (these can be great for the ride to school), which is simply a few sentences that start the day on a positive note. These should reflect what is important to your family. For example, “I believe in myself and my abilities. Today, I choose to think positively. I will look for ways that I can help others and make someone smile.”
#3 Nurturing Empathy Empathy is the basis of kindness, so encouraging your child to think about others is crucial to raising a child who does kind things simply because it’s the right thing to do.
Unplug and talk. Real, face-to-face engagement is key to understanding one another. Make a habit of getting off devices and having genuine conversations with your child.
Talk about other people’s feelings, and how one’s actions can impact those feelings. For example, if your child tells you that a classmate was teased, talk about how that person may have felt.
When you are reading a book or watching a movie, talk about how the characters are feeling and why they are feeling that way.
Look for the helpers. When your child does something helpful, acknowledge it. When you see a news story about someone helping the community, talk about it. Look for the helpers (big and small) as you go about your day.
When your child does something kind, don’t just congratulate her on the act. Take it a step further and talk about what she did and how it made the recipient feel.
Help your child identify his feelings (angry, sad, happy) and why he is feeling that way. When children know what happy, sad, angry, etc. feels like, they are better able to understand those feelings in others.
Teach your child how to be happy for others. Concentrate on how the person feels rather than what they may have gotten. For example, instead of talking about the new bike that Billy got, talk about how happy Billy must be to be able to ride his bike to his grandmother’s house.
Talking about how others feel can lead to bigger conversations about inclusivity and the importance of understanding that people have different lives, experiences, and connections.
Our world can always use more kindness. As parents, we have the opportunity to impact our communities by doing what we can to raise kind and thoughtful children.
Mason Preparatory School is committed to the education of the whole child in preparation for secondary education through the cultivation of respect, integrity, and personal responsibility within a nurturing environment that results in a productive citizen of a global community.