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How do you raise kind kids? There are only a few sure fire ways to raise empathetic kids that turn into good humans.
Have you ever been out somewhere, and someone lets a door close right in your face?
Or you smile at someone who just looks back at you like they’ve eaten a sour lemon?
Or you say excuse me in the grocery store, only to be ignored?
When did our society quit valuing kindness?
I don’t know if it was abrupt or gradual, but I do know if we’re ever going to change that, it starts at home. It starts with how we raise our kids. I try everyday to teach my kids kindness, and one of the things I’ve learned as a mom, is kids do what they see, not what they’re told.
I love instilling kindness into my kids, because I know one day, it’s going to have a ripple effect, and their kindness is going to affect people I’ll never even know.
In a nutshell, there is one major thing you have to do to raise kind kids:
You have to model it.
You have to practice what you preach. “Do as I say, not as I do” never has and never will work. Kids are mirrors. If you want kind kids, you yourself, have to be kind.
Of course everybody has off days or off moments. Every parent has lost their cool when they wished they hadn’t. That isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about overall, the tone of your home has to be a kind one. Overall, the way you talk to people, including your kids, has to be a kind one. Overall, your demeanor has to be kind, if you want your kids to follow suit.
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So how do you model it?
1) Create a positive atmosphere in your home with a consistent tone of love and peace.
2) Weave it in where it makes sense.
Action steps we have taken to take to create a positive home:
Pray. Pray. Then pray some more.
Welcome God in, because He is love. There’s love, joy, and peace that doesn’t make sense where He resides. When He lives on the inside of you, YOU are more loving, patient, and full of joy and peace!
I’ve done it both ways: I’ve done it with Him, and I’ve tried to do it all on my own – and from experience, He always helps when we ask, because He loves us dearly.
We talk a lot about “life words” in our home. We build each other up with our words, we never tear down. If you can’t fix it right now (like a crumb on your face), you don’t mention even it.
It doesn’t matter what you’re saying, you can always say it in a kind way. You can even disagree or be mad about something without using a hateful tone.
Absolutely no name calling.
We always strive to use our words for life: build up, encourage, and never tear down.
Kind / soft hands and feet.
I have to tell one of mine often that we never use our hands when we’re angry. Reminders that people want to help you when you talk to them kindly make all the different. Always use your hands for love.
When we hurt somebody, we apologize (and make it heart felt).
I’m sorry that I __________. That was wrong because _____________. Next time, I’ll do ____________ instead/differently. Will you forgive me? Hugs.
Hollering “I’M SORRY!”, shaking the house at the rafters with your rhinoceros feet, and breathing fire doesn’t cut it, sister.
Consider how our words and actions are making others feel.
If something will hurt someone, made them sad, etc., we don’t do it (body autonomy, anything that makes them uncomfortable, and anything with strangers are the exceptions to this).
Hold doors for the person behind you.
Help people whenever it’s in your power to do so.
Always encourage people.
Make others happy whenever you can.
Surprise people with something that you know will make them smile.
Practice thankfulness for people that help us.
Especially for people like speech therapists, children’s pastors, pastors, grandparents, teachers, etc. or anyone else who has especially given of themselves to pour into my kids.
We’ve given homemade cards, welcome gifts, baked goods, Christmas/birthday gifts, and more to people who go above and beyond to instill virtues into my family or otherwise go out of their way to be of help to us.
We remember people who may not feel seen in any way we can.
Cards, food, thanks, hugs, and everything in between. Let them see you being kind to people who don’t feel seen.
We smile at everyone we see.
Weave it in where it makes sense.
Just this morning, Sophia ate all the pecans for her and Ella’s apple rings. She’s been taking the last of things often, so I’ve been using that to teach her consideration of others and empathy.
“How would that make you feel if you want some of those and Ella ate what was left? Would it make you kind of sad?”
And, on her own, she started asking her sister if she wanted some. All she needed was a little awareness, and as parents, it’s our job to provide that.
I hate to say this, but the little things are usually the things that matter.
The ones that are easy to let go, that you’re just so tired you don’t want to deal with; often times those are the things that matter.
The ways to create a positive home trickles down to the kids, too.
- Teach them kindness in their day to day actions and reactions.
- Teach them that love is kind. If you love your brother or sister, you have to show them with your words, or they aren’t going to believe you when you say you do.
- Teach them not to laugh at others’ expense.
- Remind them that it’s only fun if everyone is laughing.
- Encourage them to try to make each other happy.
- Teach them to use life words and about the power and the weight of their words.
- Teach them to do for others, and to go out of their way in the service of others.
And teach them. And teach them. Then teach them some more.
It’s not going to happen in a day.
Teaching kindness is a mosaic of a ton of little teachable moments, all woven together – and one day it will create a beautiful person.
You can’t preach kindness and expect it to take. You have to teach it. And you teach it by living it out every single day.
How do you teach empathy?
Make it a lifestyle and start today.
Right now. Talk to your kids about what you wish you’ve done differently if you need to, ask for their forgiveness, forgive yourself, and be different going forward.
The past matters less than the future. Just start somewhere. Give yourself grace for your shortcomings and resolve to be different from now on.
I have been the happy recipient of a few random acts of kindness, and they absolutely brightened my day, and in some cases, years!
Doing random acts of kindness is invaluable. It can be cheap or free, and absolutely make someone’s day! If we can do that, why shouldn’t we? If we can bring a little joy, spread a little sunshine, or make someone smile, why shouldn’t we?
Because honestly, you never know what people are going through. People that we’re acquaintances with, people who cut us off in traffic, people we see often but don’t talk with deeply; shoot, maybe even people close to us that are holding back. People are in all different walks of life, going through all kinds of battles.
Pain, rejection, trauma, hurt that doesn’t make sense, loneliness. We truly don’t know what someone 5 feet away from us dealt with this morning.
I’ve decided in my family, we’re going to be kind, because we just don’t know.
Many of the things we do don’t cost me a cent; they just cost a few seconds of our time.
Easy Acts of Kindness Anyone Can Do Today
Pick up something someone knocks down for them.
Smile at everybody you see.
Hold doors for people behind you.
Take cookies to your local librarians.
Write and mail 5 thank you notes.
Grandparents especially love getting notes from their grandbabies!
Write and mail encouraging notes anonymously.
Someone did this to me once and it made my day! I kept it and tacked it up to a little corkboard in my kitchen. I received it on a particularly hard day, and have read it often in the last year and a half or so ago that I received it.
Think of people who do things that’s easy to take for granted. Teachers, Sunday school teachers, family that takes the kids for you, friends that need encouragement during a particularly difficult time; it can be anybody!
Give an encouraging card to someone going through a hard time.
Through the actual mail.
Make a meal for someone – especially if they are elderly, recently had a baby, or otherwise unable to leave their house.
Take donuts to the police station or fire department.
They risk their lives for us daily! Let’s remember them. We welcomed the new campus officer to the girls’ school this year with homemade cookies and a card thanking her for keeping our girls safe. She was so happy, she sent home a thank you card the same day.
Tape change to a gumball machine for the next kid.
Teach your kids the value in making others happy! I know mine would identify with the joy of a piece of candy.
Tape popcorn and $5 to a Red box.
Put carts away at the store.
Easy, free, and you might save somebody’s car (someone actually let a cart hit mine once)! Somebody has to do it. Let’s make a hard job a little easier for them today.
Pay for the person behind you in a drive through.
Use it as an opportunity to tell them Jesus loves them!
Leave a diaper and wipes on a changing table for the next mom.
Make and give out cards and candy or roses at a nursing home.
Send a care package to a platoon.
Fun, rewarding, and a great way to give back and express gratitude for your freedom!
Gather some clothes, toys, winter coats, or books to donate to a local shelter.
Mine always are blessed with way more than they need, so this is an easy way for us to give back.
Donate tennis balls or stuffed animals to the animal shelter.
Brighten a puppy’s day with a new toy!
Pay for someone’s meal while you’re at a restaurant.
Leave a treat for your mailman.
A thank you note and small gift or pack of Oreos would go a long way! I left a treat in a coffee mug for Christmas one year.
Leave cold water bottles outside in a cooler on a hot day.
Leave flowers outside with a sign to take one for someone you love.
Spread a little joy!
Animal shelters, pregnancy centers, a lot of nursing homes, homeless shelters, church, soup kitchens, or any other cause you believe in.
Write encouraging notes in chalk on the sidewalk.
Give a friend a hug.
Ask somebody, “How can I help you?” – then do it.
Or, “How can I pray for you?” – then do it.
Send a text to a loved one, just to tell them you appreciate them.
Pour life into your kids with your words!
Tell them they’re kind, smart, one-of-a-kind, courageous, loved, brave, amazing, a good sister, a good girl, and how much you love them – every single day, and they’ll believe it.
Leave a kind comment on social media.
Do something for your husband you knew he was going to do.
This can be as simple as taking out the trash or filling up his gas tank.
Surprise a friend with a coffee.
Tell a new mom she is doing better than she thinks she is.
Name her kids and tell her they’re blessed to have her for a mama. Remind her that everything comes in seasons, and it gets easier.