You don't have to look too far to see kids completely focused on themselves and what they want. So when you see kids being kind, they really stand out.
I want to raise kids who help others feel like they have value, something that’s in short supply in their selfie generation. That won’t happen on its own, so it’s up to me—and you other parents—to teach them and raise kids who are counter-culturally kind!
5 Tips to Get You Started:
Be kind. Our kids take cues from us. How are we kind throughout the day? Simple acts of kindness like letting people merge in front of us in traffic, holding the door for someone, or buying the stranger behind us in the drive thru a coffee speaks volumes to our kids.
Chose to lose. There’s always going to be someone richer, smarter, better dressed, or more successful than you. Learn to be better than ok with that—learn to be happy for those people. It takes away the urge to be selfish and greedy. And in turn, it frees you from the “competition” and lets you be happy for others and offer kindness without strings attached. When your kid comes home and says, “So-and-so just got the iPhone XR, but I’m good with my 7”, you know you’re doing it right.
Point out when others are kind to you. When people show kindness to you or your family, talk about it. When our hot water heater went out in the middle of paying for our international adoption, the most unexpected person at our church quietly handed us a check after the Christmas Eve sermon—the pastor! That’s a story of kindness we tell every year at Christmas.
Give your kids opportunities to show kindness. As a family, talk about ways you could show kindness to people in your life. In the words you say, in the words you don’t say, the things you do or don’t do, and where you spend your time and money. I’ll never forget the heartbreak of my daughter reading a “no job, need help and food” sign. We raced home, packed a huge grocery bag and drove back as fast as we could, but the down-and-outer was already gone. I loved her huge heart to help in that moment—for a while we kept small bags with water and packaged foods in the car ready to share with anyone in need.
Create teachable moments. Most kids will default to putting themselves before others not the other way around. My first grader once told another student he wasn’t intelligent enough to work on a project with him. FIRST GRADE! Instead of getting angry, we chose to make this a teachable moment, using stuffed animals to role play different ways our son could have showed kindness in the situation instead of being so painfully blunt.
Celebrate when they are kind. Make a big deal when you see them showing kindness without being prompted. We were shocked when our 11 year old son on the Autism spectrum—who loathes crowds, costumes, and human interaction—offered to go trick or treating with his 12 year old sister because he didn’t want her to have to go on her own. Let’s just say a King Size Reese’s showed up on that kid’s pillow with a “Thanks for offering to trick or treat with your sister. You are one awesome kid!” note.
Are you unsure of how to move forward and support your preteens through one of life’s most challenging times? Take my Preteen Engagement Assessment, here.