I turn on the news and I’m bombarded by the horrible things that are going on in the world. Is it just me, or does it seem like things are getting worse? I can’t help but wonder what kind of world my kids will deal with when they are adults. What has changed since the last generation?
One thing that popped into my mind as I listen to my boys argue is kindness. Are we teaching are children to be kind and compassionate human beings? Are we teaching them to be givers of kindness and not just receivers?
We, as parents, want to do as much as we can to give our kids what we may not have had or a”leg up” in the world. We want our kids to be the best and the brightest in whatever they do, so we work to pay for the best football/baseball equipment, individual lessons, computers/ipads to stimulate their learning, and the list goes on. What have they learned? Take, take, take. That will help you get further in this cutthroat world. In one study, 80 percent of the youth said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/18/are-you-raising-nice-kids-a-harvard-psychologist-gives-5-ways-to-raise-them-to-be-kind/. Wow, just wow.
What are we doing to teach them to give? Children inherently love to give to others, but we have taught them to think more about themselves than others.
A study conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Riverside, on several hundred 9-11 year olds found when these children performed at least three acts of kindness a week, they had significantly increased feelings of happiness and satisfaction. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment-youth/201301/acts-kindness-key-happiness-children-teens. Not only did they feel better about themselves, but these kids found they were more liked and accepted by their peers. In turn, this also decreased bullying behaviors and increased academic achievements.
So how do we help are children be responsible, moral, and caring? Make caring for others a priority. That includes honoring commitments even when it doesn’t make them happy , addressing others respectfully even when they are tired or angry. Provide opportunities for them to practice caring and gratitude. Make gratitude a daily ritual in big and small ways. Expand your child’s circle of concern. Not only should they be caring to their immediate family and friends, but look for opportunities to care about someone outside their immediate circle, such as talking with a new student.
There are so many ways we can help our kids show acts of kindness, big or small. Here is a list of some great ideas. http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/positive/teaching-kids-to-be-kind/?sssdmh=dm17.869745&esrc=nwpdbk012616.
Imagine what our world would be like if we made this our focus for our children.
Let this be our mantra. Instead of saying “The most important thing is that you’re happy,” say “The most important thing is that you’re kind.”