Driving down the highway, just my boys and me. We’ve spent the morning jumping, running and playing together at an indoor trampoline park. Now, with grumbling tummies and happy hearts, we’re off on a search for lunch.
“Mommy, I want burgers!”
I chuckle and say “okay!” Good thing the next exit holds our favorite burger joint.
I pull off the highway and slow down for the red light at the intersection. As we ease to a stop, our jubilant voices go silent. The once joy-filled car sits eerily quiet.
Both my boys stare out the car window at the man on the corner.
He stands there, long beard and unkempt hair. He’s bundled up in a heavy jacket, boots, and a sign saying “anything helps” shields his body from the brutal Alaskan cold.
As I reach over and grab my wallet, my son whispers from the back seat, “Mommy, are you going to help that man?”
I reply, “yes honey, I’ll give what I have.”
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I pull out a few dollar bills, it’s the only cash I have, and roll down my window. He approaches.
I try to find just the right words to say to him. My go-to farewell statement is “have a nice day!”. But dude, he’s a homeless man standing on a corner in Alaska…that just doesn’t seem right. So I end up mumbling a mixture of not-so-helpful words. “um…here…hope helps…good luck…um…have a nice day!!” Oh, I sound dumb.
In hindsight, it doesn’t matter what I said. He nodded took the money, and walked back to his corner.
As I’m rolling up the window, my five-year-old says, “Mommy, that was so kind of you! Now maybe he can take that money and buy himself some furniture!”
I turn around and look at my sweet boy and say, “Oh honey, that man doesn’t have a house to hold furniture, he’s homeless.”
My son’s face falls a bit and then he perks up and says, “Oh! That money can help him stay in a hotel, so he’s not so cold tonight!”
“Well, I didn’t have enough cash for that, but maybe if he saves it up he can sleep in a hotel tonight. I did give him enough money for lunch though!”
My son smiles and says, “Good! It’s lunchtime and I bet he’s hungry!”
At dinner, my son tells his Dad the story of how we helped a homeless man. I can feel the pride in his voice when he mentions how we paid for him to eat.
I might not do everything right, but today I taught my child a great lesson in kindness and compassion
Teaching children to be kind
One of my big parenting goals is to raise kind children. I want them to learn to be kind to not only their family and friends but everyone who happens to cross their path.
It’s a tough thing to instill in children, but not impossible.
Be Kind To Your Kids
In order for children to give kindness, they must know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of kindness.
It feels good when people are kind to us, and that’s why it feels good to be kind to others.
Do nice things for your kids, for no reason at all.
Share the last cookie, surprise them by buying something they’ve always wanted, do one of their chores, help them with a tough problem.
Throughout your days together with your kids, find little things you can do to be kind to them.
It’s also important to try and control your anger and approach your children in a kind way. Use kind words.
Children learn by modeling the behaviors of the people around them.
Just the other day, I was playing a video game with my son and as my character died I said “oh crap!” Soon after, my son also made a mistake on the game and said “oh crap!” This was the first time he’s said those words and it was mere seconds after I uttered them.
By the time a child is talking, most parents realize that kids copy what we do, it’s how they learn.
So if we want our kids to learn kindness, we must model it for them.
Show them how to be kind to people.
Give the homeless man money or food.
Give a smile and a wave to a stranger.
Let in the car on the highway who needs to merge.
Find simple ways in your everyday life to be kind to the people around you.
Your kids are watching and will do what you do.
Praise What You Want to Raise
“Oh that was very kind of you!” is a phrase you here a lot around my house.
I’m trying to teach my children what exactly it means to be kind. Children aren’t born into this world knowing how to take care of one another and what behaviors are kind. It’s our job to teach them.
We know children learn through modeling, but praise is also a rockstar parenting tool that teaches children fast.
So, I praise my children any time I see them being kind and I intentionally use the word kind in my statements. I want to make the word kind a part of our family’s vocabulary, so I use it daily.
Share a toy with your brother? “Wow, that was really kind to share like that!”
Help me make dinner? “Thank you so much for being kind and helpful.”
Pick up something that Dad dropped? “That’s really kind of you to help your Dad.”
Every day, I find ways to praise kindness, and I use the word kind in my praise.
Children learn from praising behaviors.
Innately children want to get their parent’s attention and to make their parents happy with them. So when we praise behaviors, our children get a huge rush of pride and are more likely to repeat that behavior later.
Praise what you want to raise.
30 Ways To Teach Kids Kindness
If you’re looking for more ways to teach kids how to be kind, download this FREE handout, “30 Ways To Teach Kids Kindness”. It give more specific examples of how to infuse your child’s daily life with kindness.
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