My eight year old is the kindest person I know. He just has a big, compassionate heart. If he won money, he would buy toys for kids who didn't have any. If someone is sad, he is sad with them. I have never seen such an empathetic eight year old person. And I wish I could take credit for teaching him to be so kindhearted. But I can't. He was really just born with he best heart.
Which makes me wonder if we don't actually teach our kids to be kind, but if we teach them to be unkind?? There is no baby who is born prejudiced, or judgmental, or rude. Those attitudes are learned.
I try to teach my kids to be caring and compassionate members of society. We donate to charities. They each choose a charity every Christmas to donate to as well. We buy toys for the Angel Tree and fill shoeboxes. We donate school supplies. We bake cookies for women and children in shelters and sort clothes for clothing drives. But I don't know that this is really teaching them to be kind.
Here is my observation: when my kids hear me talk about the annoying neighbor or complain about a family member, they do that too. But when my ACTIONS show kindness, then they see that too. When I make a meal for a family who has been ill or had a baby, they see that. When I volunteer to make copies for a teacher, they see that. I don't need to make a dramatic showing of being kind, or even talk about what I'm doing. In fact, I think they learn more when I do not talk about it. We do not treat people kindly for praise, we treat them kindly because that is how we treat people.
So, here it is. My profound idea for teaching our children to be kind: Just. Be. Kind.
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