Written by: Natalie Fuertes
When you ask parents what they want most for their kids, the answers usually fall into one of a few categories: “I want my kids to be happy,” “I want my kids to be kind to others,” or “I want my kids to have a good life.” But when you ask children what their parents want for them, most say their parents value achievement over kindness and caring.
Here's the thing, if we want our children to be truly happy and become caring adults who are responsible members of their communities, then we can't just talk to them about it, we need to show them how to be kind. Here's some tips on how we can help our kids develop their kindness "muscles":
You know that beautiful quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”? Model that. As a mama of two, I often hear myself ask “How would you feel if…?” But it isn't enough to just ask the question. I want them to understand and internalize how complex people truly are.
So the next time they're upset at a friend, or even a complete stranger, have them consider the other persons emotions by saying, “They must be having a hard week,” or “Maybe they're tired.” It helps frame people as complex humans, who are likely sweet underneath it all, but just need a little compassion.
Read Books That Teach Kindness
There are so many amazing children’s books that teach kindness and acceptance, as well as books featuring characters of color, female characters, non-binary characters, etc. Having a diverse group of books at home is an easy way to start conversations and show them how they can apply those concepts to their own lives.
Make a Difference at Home
I have to admit, one of my biggest pet peeves is when you’re at a family reunion or on a group trip, and all the women jump up to clear dishes after dinner and the men don’t help. So, my husband and I make it a point to have our kids see us split the work equally at home. If I cook dinner, then he washes the dishes. While I'm cleaning the bathrooms, he's mopping the living room floor. Every weekend we make sure the kids join in on the chores and we always tell them “It’s nobody’s job to clean up after you".
Make a Difference in the Community
There is life outside of our homes and kids can absolutely help in bigger ways. Help them see that they can be valuable members of their community - make Thanksgiving cards for a local nursing home, donate items to a local shelter, practice random acts of kindness around the community.
Make a Difference Globally
“The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.” Diversity is what makes life interesting and beautiful, but it's also important to teach kids to find common ground. The vast majority of people share basic human values such as family, friendship, love, and hope. Teach your kids that it's important to contribute globally - raise money for a charity they'd like to support, write letters to elected officials about causes they believe it, donate items to places affected by natural disasters.
Now for the fun part. Have your kids start a kindness journal!
What You'll Need:
Printed copies of my adorable quotes and activity sheets (download below).
Washi tape and stickers in fun colors
Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
Create Your Journal:
Get inspired by decorating the cover of your notebook
Print your favorite quotes and activity sheets below. Keep them the back of your journal to use when you complete a service project or act of kindness. After you fill out a sheet, glue it into your journal.
Using your colored pencils, crayons, or markers, artfully add a prompt or drawing every few pages throughout your notebook.