Getting pregnant was a dream come true. Ever since I could remember, I wanted nothing else but to be a mommy. It took a little while longer than I expected, but I finally became a mom in my early thirties when my son Jonah was born. I remember thinking about what he was going to look like, wondering what sports he would play, and daydreaming about our adventures together. After he was born, I quickly realized that none of that mattered. All I really want for my children is for them to grow up and be kind and caring people.
Teaching our children how to be kind starts from the moment they are born. Just like sports and hobbies, it takes a lot of practice to be kind. I know we all wish it would come naturally, but sometimes it isn't that easy. Here are three simple ways to teach your child how to be kind.
Do kind things for others and invite your kids to participate. For instance, a few months ago, a friend of ours was going through a medical crisis and my husband and I wanted to do something for the family. While it was a small and simple thing to do, we decided to make dinner for them one night. The entire family got involved. We all came together to make a casserole, my husband picked out a bottle of wine, and the kids each wrote a thoughtful note to accompany the meal. The entire time we were putting together the package, my son was asking about why we were doing it. Another time, we received some products from JOHNSON’S® to share with new mothers who might need a little extra help, so we made some gift baskets to donate. Both my daughter, Caroline, and Jonah helped put them together with me. My daughter was very curious about the mothers and babies that would be receiving them. We were modeling kindness, and both children were noticing.
Read books about kindness and talk about it with your kids. In addition to being a mom, I am also a first grade teacher in an urban public school. I spend a good majority of the first part of the year talking with my students on how we can be kind to each other. We do a lot of role playing and read books with characters in them who show kindness. Having something to model offers kids a new perspective and allows them to think beyond their own situations.
Model kindness with your words. While all of this is great, I know that my actions and how I treat my kids and my students speak louder than the pages in the books. It all begins with us, the parents. Speaking with kind and caring words from infancy will help mold how our children will interact with others later in life. Showing our kids that we solve our issues with words instead of our hands is vital to how they will end up solving their own problems. When our children speak out in anger and use mean words, stop them and, with gentle words, show them how you would like them to talk to you. It can take awhile, but eventually they will pick up on how we want them to talk to each other when they are upset.
The world can use more kindness in it. Let’s encourage our kids to be a part of a kinder community.
Kathy Hodson is a contributor for JOHNSON’S®, the sponsor of this community, and compensated for travel and attendance at events. Every idea and word written is her own.