This video about a grieving mother who lost her six year old in the tragedy of the Sandy Hook massacre really hit me. She is taking time to advocate for love and compassion to be taught in homes. If the shooter had been in a loving environment with compassion being modeled from a very young age , she believes the outcome would have been different.
#1 Model It
Monkey see, monkey do. A horrifying parenting moment for me is when I see my negative self in my children when they are interacting with their siblings. It’s like a slap in the face, but I am putting it all out there in this space that, it happens. I am not perfect and not always the model of happiness and kindness in our home. I have my moments and when I see them in my children, it’s a great reminder to practice my sanity saver strategies so that I can be the adult and respond to heated moments in a healthy manner. What are my sanity savers you are wondering? Exercise, counting to ten and reading a set of affirmation cards I have. Just remember, being intentional in your home will help you to raise a kind and caring individual. You will make mistakes and slip up. Don’t be too hard on yourself and move on after reflecting on how to do better next time!
#2 RAKS as a Family
What are you priorities as a family? Are you rushing around 24/7 and feeling out of sorts? If you are, your children are too. If raising kind kids is a shared value of you and your partner, then make it a point to set aside time to be together as a family and strengthen your shared connection. Make time for what’s important to you!!! To hold ourselves accountable for completing acts of kindness together with our children, we make it a point to plan one per quarter. Sometimes we have more which is great but never any less than one shared experience per quarter, doing something kind for someone else.
#3 Look for Examples of Kindness in the World
As you are out and about with your family, point out acts of kindness. “Wow, that lady picked up that mans bag when he dropped it, that was really nice or her!” Our children need to see and hear kindness, help them by finding examples out in your community. Examples can also be noted in books you read together and movies.
#4 Start and Keep a Kindness Routine
Think of kind things you can do and REPEAT for neighbors and those around you. Maybe your child makes a point to shovel all winter long for an elderly neighbor. Or maybe your younger child gets the mail for your neighbor Monday-Friday. We have a kindness routine that happens at the beginning of each month. We take out our birthday calendar and write cards to each person having a birthday that month. This is a great way to also promote literacy as well as create a kindness routine in our home. You can include children of all ages—our youngest would add happy stickers to the cards before he could write and draw!
#5 Give without Expectations
This is a beautiful gift to give to your children. Teach them through conversations and practice, that we do not expect things in return when we do kind things for others. Even as an adult, we can go down a negative path when we start comparing which of our friends repay kindness and which do not. It’s not about us, it’s about the act of giving and making someone else smile.
#6 Play the Compliment Game
Teach your children how to compliment others at the dinner table. Focus on the traits we can not see instead of commenting on material items or the other person’s outer beauty. A good compliment: You are so generous! I like the way you always think of others.
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