My daughter is almost 2 years old, so when I think about teaching her kindness - I have to laugh a little. Because we are in DEEP with selfishness right now. Phrases I hear non stop:
"My brush, my hair, my shoes, my toy, my mommy, my table, my chair, my dog"
MY, MY, MY, OH MY.
I'm fighting the good fight of teaching her that she does not, in fact, own all the things. That she needs to share. That she needs to be patient. That she needs to be kind.
But, while the words I say to her to try to steer her heart toward kindness do matter, I know that those words, ultimately, are not what will make her kind.
It's the words I say to others that will teach her kindness. It's my every action, in every day, that will teach her kindness. That's what she'll notice. That's what she'll replicate. No pressure, self.
She's going to notice when I celebrate the accomplishments of others rather than begrudge them their success.
She's going to notice when I am jealous.
She's going to notice when I give away compliments freely.
She's going to notice when I gossip
She's going to notice when I donate my time, money, and energy to others in need.
She's going to notice when I am selfish
She's going to notice what I say to the waitress when she messes up our order.
She's going to notice when I am impatient.
She's going to notice when I am quick to forgive and slow to anger.
She's going to notice when I hold a grudge.
I have high standards for my daughter when it comes to kindness. I want her to show grace, to give freely, to treat every single person that she meets with respect. I want her to be the girl who invites her bullied classmate to sit with her at lunch. I want her to have a heart that longs to serve others. I want her to genuinely celebrate her friends when they beat her at a game. That is the bar. That is the standard.
So next time I kneel down in front of her round little face and look into her piercing blue eyes and remind her to use her nice hands. Her nice words. Her patience. I hope she knows one thing.
That bar I've set for her? I've set it just a few notches higher for myself.
And I'm reaching for it every single day.