It is not unusual in our society today to hear people talking about or writing about kindness. The City of Sequim has proclaimed the year 2021 to be the year of kindness to reignite our sense of community. You can find signs all over the city talking about and pushing kindness.
But what exactly is kindness? What is it to be kind? Is it being helpful? Is it just being polite? Does it have to be something big to really be kind? Or can it be something really very small and still be very powerful and meaningful. Can you teach about being kind? What would you teach about it?
So before you begin to teach kindness let’s look at what kindness means. Kindness is a type of behavior which is marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others. Praise or rewards are not to be expected. Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Affection, gentleness, warmth, concern, and care are words that are associated with kindness.
To teach your child about kindness, you first need to begin by thinking what does kindness mean? Can you come up with examples?
To begin, you can read books to your child about being kind. “Be Kind” by Pat Zietlow Miler is a great introduction to being kind. It talks about a little girl who spills something and then people make fun of her. It discusses how another child wants to make it up to the little girls by being kind to her and gives many examples of ways to be kind.
Ask the librarian for a few more suggestions of books on kindness. She is always helpful. There are many books that will help you such as “Have You Filled a Bucket,” “Ordinary Mary,” “The Invisible Boy,” “Kindness Makes Us Strong,” “Kindness Counter” or “Try a Little Kindness.” There are many more. You can find them on the internet by going to “kindness” books. But mainly read the books for ideas to talk with your child about kindness.
Kindness for your child is talking about helping others, being thoughtful, celebrating other cultures, learning to accept yourself and others, treating your enemy with kindness, caring for others, accepting others imperfections, kindness is the strong superpower, offering comfort even with just listening, and standing up for others. It is all these things and more.
These are qualities worth encouraging your child to develop and they are certainly worth showing that you possess in your relationships.
There are stories about kindness all around. In my neighborhood someone left a rooster to take care of itself in an empty field. The people in the neighborhood began to leave food out for the friendly rooster. They left corn and water to keep the rooster alive. Recently, a hen joined the rooster and they now walk around together. But it was the kindness of the neighbors that kept the rooster alive and welcomed the new hen to our neighborhood.
If we each could develop a stronger sense of kindness our world and our society would be different. But even if we can teach our children to value other people and to be kind to others, we have a chance to make a big difference in the world.
It is well worth the time to try to teach your child about this important trait. You will see the difference even within your own family as each member develops a greater sense of kindness. Don’t skip a day of learning more about this important trait.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. For more information, email to email@example.com or call 360-681-2250.