I’m not some parenting guru who has all the answers. I don’t trust those people anyway. Do they even have kids? Parenting is fully consuming in the most overwhelming and beautiful of ways. There is so much to think about and so many decisions to make. What activities should they do? What school should they go to? What toys should they have or not have? What should they eat or not eat? The list is exhausting. However, I bet we can all agree on at least one thing we want for our children. We want them to be kind.
After 2 separate situations in which my son (who was 3 at the time) was told by 2 different kids (also 3 year olds) not to play with someone else in the class, I got to thinking more about kindness. We really do have to be vigilant on so many things and I had taken the kindness aspect a bit for granted. Many of us are away from our children more than we are actually with them. Eeks! We can’t protect them from everything, but we can help them navigate these situations.
I started my search about teaching kindness the way I often do when faced with a parental conundrum, the library website, Google, and Amazon. I found this book, Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller and it had great reviews. So a library hold was placed :).
Reading this book together brought up a lot of great conversations about being kind and considerate. We spotted ways kindness was shown in the book at various points and talked about how the characters felt and why. My son started to spot acts of kindness, so we decided to call ourselves Kindness Detectives. He was really great at seeing acts of kindness big and small, both at home and in public. It was fun to see all the different ways kindness can be shown and we would talk about it in the car a lot driving to or from school.
We decided to become Kindness Superheroes!! To the rescue!! Of course, this plays on his love for superheroes and capes. It was our turn to show kindness to others using some of the examples we had found as Kindness Detectives. He would proudly exclaim, “I’m a Kindness Superhero, Mommy!” when he did something to help at home or with his younger brother. Kindness blossomed for him (though he still has rough moments like us all) and there is no greater compliment than to hear others talk about the kindness and empathy your child shows to others.
From time to time, we still talk about how we plan to show kindness that day or who we saw being kind. I hope I have inspired you to nurture your own Kindness Detectives and Superheros. Maybe that is with your children, or maybe it’s within yourself. We can be pretty tough on ourselves at times, so try to be kind to yourself with that inner talk, friend. Kindness really does matter and it really can change the world.
How do you grow kindness in your life? What kindness actions of others have surprised you?