Kindness as a way of life is something I want to teach my three kids. The three of them fight; I mean they fight a lot. Of course they fight, they are siblings. But I also see kindness woven in between the fights like threads of shining hope that one day they will be kind adults. They are knit together as siblings like a mat of ever-changing interactions and some days I’m frustrated by more angry threads than kind threads. I let the kind threads shine through by highlighting them and complimenting the kids when I see them being kind.
Here are five ways to teach kindness to kids:
1. Make something to give to a local senior community or nursing home and deliver it: When I was Mom’s Club president several years ago I planned for the club to make Christmas cards and deliver them to a nursing home. Our club joined forces with kids and moms making cards, and we made around ninety cards to distribute. The kids enjoyed making cards, plus it gave us SAHM’s a chance to socialize. It was Christmas time and a friend of mine, also a member of the club, arranged for us to deliver them to her grandpa’s senior community. The project evolved into a even bigger event for the residents than we first imagined. First we delivered cards to each resident’s door. Then the kids hand delivered candy canes to the seniors in their dining room. The kids finished the evening by singing a Christmas song. The smiles spread across the resident’s faces. Bright elation lit up in their elderly eyes. It was so heartwarming it brought tears to my eyes. This is a tradition we continue for inciting Christmas cheer even though we are no longer in the club. Participating in the spreading of kindness in this way has been priceless for my kids.
2. Kindness to animals: I model kindness to animals for my kids. I am a firm believer in kindness to animals teaches kids empathy. If we teach kids that animals have feelings they can identify with them and this leads to empathy. As parents my husband and I have focused on teaching the kids to be gentle to pets and to respect a pet’s feelings. We heavily praise the kids when they are gentle to the pets. We treat our pets like members of our family because that is what they are to us. When we display kindness to animals, kids learn to respect and be kind to them also. I feed the birds birdseed and set out leftover scraps of bread, fruits, and vegetables for them. Another way I show compassion to animals involves helping them when I see them in danger. My kids have witnessed me stop driving to help a slow turtle crossing the road. I’ve actually parked my car and safely raced to scoop up the little turtle to rush him to the side of the road.
3. Volunteer for PTA or at school fundraisers: I am a giant fan of helping schools. Yes, I’m giving a plug to set you on fire to volunteer in your local schools. I served three years as our PTA Treasurer. This was a huge undertaking that was basically a part time job without pay. But when I saw the benefits and kindness our PTA could give to our kids with their funds, I realized all the work was worth it. Show your local school kids some kindness by sharing some of your time at school or as part of a PTA, even if it’s just an hour here or there. When kids see parent volunteers they learn how important it is to give the gift of time to their community. Perhaps this will get our kids to show kindness to school communities by volunteering in their communities themselves now or when they are adults.
“There is the purest beauty in true kindness. Our world needs more kindness. Let’s give it.”
4. Donate at church or another charitable organization: Donating is being kind. My husband and I don’t tell our kids how much we donate, but we let them know that we do donate to church and other charities. Two of my favorite charities are Feed My Starving Children and Worldvision. We let our kids know we sponsor families in a poor country so they can have food, healthcare, clothing, and education. We live in such a privileged country, our kids don’t realize how fortunate we are unless we point out what we have that others lack.
5. Participate in providing food for the less fortunate: Most grocery stores near us have pre-bagged packages of food items that can be a direct donation to a food shelf when bought right at the store. While the kids are along shopping to witness it, toss one in the cart. I volunteer monthly to bring packaged bags of food to my kids’ elementary school. A group of retired teachers packages up snacks and volunteers like myself deliver them to the designated local school. This allows for the bag of healthy snacks to be sent home discreetly in the backpacks of children in need. My kids learn it is kind to help those less fortunate when they see I donate my time. Having kids actually carry food into a shelter to donate also makes it real for them to participate in the donation.
Parents, we need to focus on kindness teaching for kids. There is the purest beauty in true kindness. Our world needs more kindness. Let’s give it.
Originally published on http://www.juliehoagwriter.com/