The Heart of Kindness
My children are wonderful children. I love my children. My children are a blessing and gift from God. Each one of them is a miracle. Yet, many days I see in their hearts and actions of unkindness toward each other and their friends and I know they need a heart of kindness.
The Oxford dictionary defines kindness as being friendly, generous and considerate. Most often, kindness manifests itself in being generous and considerate to others. Even the youngest children will struggle with kindness, it’s just not a trait children are born with. Watch 2 toddlers playing for a few minutes and it will not be long before one is crying because the other took their toy. But, it doesn’t get easier when children are older, tweens and teens will fight over clothes, shoes and more.
Kindness is something we teach and show our children every day.
3 Ways to Teach your Children Kindness
Teach Your Children to Think Before They Act
The number one way I notice my children are unkind (or downright mean) to each other is when they act without thinking. I ask what happened? I hear 3 children each accusing the other one of hitting first, kicking first, taking my toy (favorite shirt or whatever), so the other one or two retaliate. Action = reaction, but no one stops to think first if this the right thing to do.
How do we make this a teachable moment? First, you will have to get everyone to calm down (don’t forget yourself). Once everyone is listening, explain that even if the other brother/sister does something that is not nice, it does not give the “wronged” brother/sister the okay to react in an unkind (hitting, pushing, screaming) way.
My oldest is 11. I frequently remind him that actions have consequences. Before you take an action, be sure it’s a kind action and that your action will create a good reaction. Everything we do should be kind and not hurtful to anyone.
Teach Your Children to Think of Others Before Themselves
In Ephesians 4:32, the apostle Paul wrote, “Be kind to one another, forgiving one anonther ….” If we are going to teach our children to be kind, they need to begin thinking of others before they think of themselves and understanding forgiveness.
It’s human nature to be selfish and not think of others first. What are some examples of thinking of others before yourself? Sharing is the first word that comes to mind when I think about think of others before myself. Share our food, share our home, share all the treasures that God has given us.
God has blessed us in many ways (not just money), we can share those blessings with others. We can teach our children to help those less fortunate than us too.
We can also teach our children to be forgiving to each other. How often I hear the my girls say, “I am not talking to you anymore, you are not my friend.” I remind them they need to be forgiving and say, “I’m sorry.” Just earlier today, I heard the my youngest daughter go to her sister and sincerely say, “I’m sorry for taking your milkshake.” The older sister just as sincerely said, “That’s okay.” No prompting from an parents.
Teach Our Children to Treat Others Better Than Yourself
Self-preservation and survival are instincts we are born with. To treat others better than ourselves is a self-sacrifice we must learn. Teaching our children how to treat others is something we do from their earliest interactions with other children and siblings.
How should we teach our children to treat others better than themselves? We teach them to consider the needs and even their wishes of others before our own desires. Does your little brother want to play with your prized Legos? Maybe you could play Legos with your brother together. Does your sister want to wear your favorite pants and shirt? Maybe you could share sometimes or trade.
Kindness is not a trait that is mentioned once and learned. It takes many years and much hard work to teach children kindness. We can begin to teach kindness by showing our children to think before they act, think of others before themselves and treat others better than themselves.
How do you teach your children kindness? What examples of kind actions have your children done?