How to Teach Your Kids to be Consistently Kind
(Inside: How to teach your kids to be kind even when they don’t feel like it.)
Cleaning up the mess of our over $1500 in credit card theft had me edgy. Then I went to quit the gym. Which apparently is like telling membership services gravity is ending: What!?! The gym needs you! The pools open soon! And to quit – see that 500-pound weight that man twice your size is bench pressing? You do it too. Without a spotter. Can’t do that? Bummer – 30 more days for you. (Because clearly, you need it.) *Cha-ching goes their cash register.* What wretched customer service. So, I let them know my thoughts – rudely.
Later, a sweet friend made a point I disagreed with, which I could’ve just politely said. Instead, I reacted like this:
“No. I’m right and you’re wrong. Because I’m right. Did you hear? I’m right. Because I’m right. I’m right. I’M RIGHT!” End of conversation. (Shut up, crazy self.)
(I’m never dramatic or hard to be friends with.)
(In case you’re wondering.)
Later I reflected on the obvious – why do I keep yelling at people?!? – and I remembered – ah…it’s almost May…
This makes sense because I lose all my patience in May. In teaching, I’m trying to fit “it all” in before sending my students off for the summer. And then in mom life, there are my kids exploding schedules including end-of-school-year concerts, plays, projects, and activities. Then in personal life…well there’s no time for that, so let that dream die. In May, I realize I’ve been sprinting for 8 months and I’m tired.
More than tired – weary.
As moms, this is just what we deal with, right? We know there are seasons that “get” us, but “this too shall pass.” So, after the initial volcano reaction, we vow to do better even though we won’t feel like it. We remind ourselves to wait 10 seconds (or 48 hours!) before responding to irritants. Life and experience have taught us how to choose a caring attitude.
But our kids haven’t necessarily learned the art of kindness yet. Yes, some small-human personalities seem to be born with extra doses of kindness they execute always. But for some kids, being kind when they don’t feel like it is equivalent to bench pressing that 500-pound weight.
But, be encouraged parents, our children are born with caring qualities: Parenting says
“And as it turns out, kids are actually hardwired to be considerate and kind. ‘The desire to help is innate,’ says David Schonfeld, MD, director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. And their sense of doing good develops as they grow. ‘At first, children like to help others because it helps them get what they want. Next, they do so because they get praise. Finally, they begin to anticipate the needs of others, and it becomes intrinsically rewarding to do nice things for people in their lives.'”
Sometimes, our kids just need us to help them learn to choose kindness. When we want our kids to remember our life lessons we:
- Name the concept.
- Talk about the concept.
- Embed the concept into our everyday lives.
I created a simple lesson to teach our kids kindness in an empowering way. Moms, it’s what we are doing anyway, with a little structure to highlight it to our kids as important. This teaching-our-kids’-kindness lesson focuses on two areas:
|Related Article: A Lesson to Increase You & Your Kids’ Happiness|
Kindness to Others
Teach kids’ kindness in voluntarily helping around the home:
If someone in my home – without being told – straightens up and cleans the bathrooms, I need nothing more in life. I am your fan forever until the end of all days. Sharing burdens might be the highest form of kindness. Let’s teach our kids to show affection to the family by helping maintain the home.
Teach kids’ to give unsolicited kindness with words:
15+ years of teaching high school have taught me this: from the kid with the lip piercing and pink hair to one who has 30 pounds of bicep to everyone – encouragement matters more than students let on and adults sometimes realize. Genuine, real compliments are gold. Let’s teach to show kindness through their words.
Encourage random acts of kindness:
When I was pregnant, one of my students (freshman boy) would carry my thick stack of books to my classroom. Everyday. I don’t even know why. I guess he just saw my weighted waddle and decided 40 pounds of books was not my jam anymore. And 13 years later, his actions still touch me. Let’s teach our kids to show kindness through their actions.
Kindness to Ourselves:
Give kids’ kindness to ponder:
What we put in our minds comes out of our mouths, so I’ve made two free printable of powerful quotes and encouraging scripture to think about and discuss. Let’s teach our kids to refuel by putting kindness into their thoughts.
Teach kids’ to be kind even when they don’t feel like it:
Why is this under “kindness to ourselves” and not “kindness to others?” Because being kind when it’s undeserved, no one is watching, or when our feelings tell us not too is self-respect. Let’s teach our kids to be the person we know they are.
Teach kids’ kind self-talk:
What’s our self-talk or the self-talk our kids may use? (1) Not smart enough (2) Not talented enough. (3) Failure. Would any of us say those things about our dearest friends? Of course not. We don’t think those things about the people we love. Let’s teach our kids to see the best in themselves the same way they see the best in others.
How the Teach Your Kids’ Kindness Lesson Unfolds
When I’m teaching my high school students a new concept, I want them to absorb the idea in many as ways as possible. I want them to see it, hear it, write it, ponder it, talk about it, analyze it, apply the concept…you get the idea. Repetition through different avenues is key.
So, I created a calendar freebie with a simple tool to learn kindness each day. I also created a kindness memory verse sheets and inspirational quotes for memorization and discussion.
Count me in!
Mommas – we get to be the ones who create a kinder world. Yes, it takes work and conversation and shaping intentional thoughts, but we have power.
We also have the power to quit yelling at people in May. And I’m all over that. I promise people who work at the gym! (And if I fail – don’t worry, in 30 days you’ll find that you’re actually glad you’re rid of me.)
Do you want 10+ FREEBIES that will empower you and your kids? Also, I’ll email you once-a-month nourishment, family-connection activities, and printables that will continue to build your confidence.
Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.
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