Ask today’s kids ‘are you kind?’ and most of them will give you that look ‘Duh?!’
Has kindness become old-fashioned? Has it become lost in a sea of social media, where people talk more about trolls and cyber-bullying than the good that goes unpublished.
Do you actively encourage your children to practise kindness?
So many people are unkind in the world today. They say things about others that are unkind, they don’t offer help when they could, they ignore people who are struggling. When someone falls in the street, they step to the side and don’t do anything to help. It’s that ‘I don’t want to get involved’ attitude that makes kindness more of a rarity.
What can you do to show them how to be kind to others?
Explain your actions
When you offer to help someone, whether to carry an old person’s bag, to retrieve a hat that has blown away or to pick up something dropped unnoticed, follow up by explaining to your children, particularly younger ones, that helping other people without being asked gives you a good feeling.
Encourage them to be aware of what is going on around them and look for opportunities to help others.
This might be helping a neighbour to unpack the shopping from their car. It might be asking someone who looks lost if you can help. It may be helping someone to cross a busy street or negotiate rough ground. It could be stopping to talk to an older neighbour who lives alone.
It could also be not arguing with a brother or sister!
Ask them how would you feel if …
When you see situations where someone is being unkind, ask your child to put themselves in the victim’s shoes. How would they feel if that happened to them? What impact might that thoughtless action or words have on the rest of their day and how they feel.
Do the same when you see someone do something kind. Get your children to start being conscious of the effect of both words and actions.
Start at home
They say you always hurt the one you love – and it’s true. It’s almost as though loving someone comes with permission to tell them what you think regardless – and know you’ll be forgiven.
If you have warring siblings, discuss a ‘be kind’ day. The rules are to actively aim to be kind to your family – and that includes Mum and Dad (both being kind to them AND that they will be kind to the kids).
Talk about what kindness means to each member of the family. What actions and words make each person feel bad? What could each person say or do that would have the opposite effect?
Get the kindness habit
Being kind is a habit. It’s something that, if you keep actively being kind, becomes normal behaviour. And a kind person is something worth aspiring to be.