Raising kind and loving people just might be the single most important step in changing the world. As parents we must model kindness in all of our actions. Here are 5 ways we can show our children how to be kind-
Model kindness all day, everyday- Kindness is not something that we choose to be at different times. If you are a kind person, that's who you are in all situations. There are opportunities to model this to your children all around you. When you are kind to the cashier, polite to the waitress after a long wait, say thank you to the mailman for bringing you your mail (something that can easily be overlooked) or flash a smile to a stranger passing by, you are showing your children that kindess is a way of life and not something to try to become. If your kids see you living this way it will become their automatic response to the world.
Engage in random acts of kindness WITH them- Carrying out random acts of kindness is a great way to show your children about being kind without expecting anything in return. You don't need to brag or even have a dialogue as to why you are doing what you are doing, but when your kids witness you pay for the person behind you at Starbucks, or give a nice tip with a friendly note on the receipt, it will normalize these patterns. It won't be some grand gesture that makes them feel like they are better than others or want to pat themselves on the back, it will simply be the way they operate throughout their lives. And if you choose to decline from filling your Ego by telling everyone about the kind gesture you just made, your children will automatically be kind for the pure sake of being kind and nothing else.
Speak kindly to your children- There is no one else in the world that we love as unconditionally as our children, but for some reason this can be hard. If you think about it, our children deserve our respect and decency even more than others, but we would be lying if we didn't admit that we all have times when we treat our kids in a way that we are not proud of. We are not better than them just because we gave birth to them and in my opinion they are given to us to bring forth our best. Sure we need to display some level of authority over our children in order to guide them, but the reality is that the way in which we talk to our children is what they will project into the world. If you want your kids to treat others with kindness, love and acceptance, then you need to give that to them. Snapping at them, barking orders, yelling, threatening, and shaming are all ways in which they will treat others if it is what they live with.
Speak kindly about others when they are in ear shot- None of us are perfect and therefore might have times when we "vent" or "complain" about others to our spouse. While the main goal should be to cut this out completely, at the very least never speak poorly about other people in front of your kids. Even when we think they are not listening, they usually are. When we do this we are modeling judgement of others. We are also modeling that is perfectly acceptable to be kind to someone's face and unkind behind their back. If you want your kids to be kind, even when no one is watching, make sure you are doing the same.
Be kind to yourself- We all know by now that we can not love someone else if we do not love ourselves- and the same can be said for kindness. If you are not kind to yourself then your children, who are tremendously perceptive, will never take you seriously when you preach kindness to others. If you are hard on yourself when you mess up, are critical of yourself, partake in self-destructive behaviors or just lack an overall sense of self-worth, it is impossible to model giving away kindness to others. By all means share your weaknesses with your kids, but also show them what it means to forgive yourself. Show them how to dust yourself off when you fall without being defined but it. Show them that you will apologize when you're wrong and then move on. Show them that you are tender with yourself and that you are simply on a journey to be the best you can be. If you show all of this to your kids, they will be kind to themselves and therefore others.