Inspiring Kindness in Your Family
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (sign up for monthly parenting newsletter and receive 20+ printable charts for kids and parents)
Being kind is a choice. It’s a win-win choice. You feel good about yourself when you do something kind for someone. They also feel better because of your kindness.
How would you rate the level of kindness in your family? Sometimes being kind to those closest to you is challenging. It is even more challenging for most people to be kind to those who are unlike them.
The daily news headlines show a significant lack of kindness in our world. One way people have tried to shine light on increasing kindness is by creating a World Kindness Day. November 13th is the day set aside to focus on kindness.
Your kids learn what you value by what you focus on. If you ask a lot of questions about their grades and homework, they surmise that how they do in school is most important to you. If you ask for their input on family decisions, they realize you value their ideas.
How can you show your kids you care about being kind? One way is by commenting on your kids’ kind acts. For example, suppose your daughter shares her Legos with her younger brother. You can highlight that by saying “That was kind of you to share your Legos.” Your kids are likely to do more of whatever you pay attention to.
Asking questions about kindness is another way to encourage it. At the dinner table you might ask questions like:
- How were you kind to someone today?
- How did someone show you kindness today?
These questions help your kids reflect on how others are being kind to them and how they are treating others. You can also chime in with your examples of kindness. If you regularly ask these questions, your kids will internalize the importance of kindness.
One family has a large cork board in their home dedicated to kind acts. Whenever someone notices someone else being kind, they can write it on a note and pin it on this board. They read some of the notes from the previous week at the beginning of their weekly family meetings
The Kindness Factory
is dedicated to making the world a kinder place. They offer various ideas for promoting kindness. They have a web page where people can log their acts of kindness. Here are a few quotes from that log:
Emma: “I gave my little brother some pets (on a video game) that he really wanted!”
Ayden: “My 2 year old sister was struggling to put on her shoes because she wanted to play outside, so I helped her put it on.”
Indigo: “I told my teacher that I appreciate everything that she does for me.”
Keeva: “One of my friends is going through a tough time and i made sure i asked if she was ok.”
Katy M: “Told my choir leader how much I appreciated her continued devotion to the group. I praised her great teaching efforts, bringing music into people’s lives and holding the group together through the pandemic via online rehearsals. She acts with love, care and encouragement.”
Ally G: “I drew a picture for my best friend, and I also made an animation for her birthday.”
Your kids have the power to make someone’s day better. Every act of kindness is a step in the right direction.
You deserve to be treated with kindness and so do your kids. Healthy relationships are grounded in kindness. Staying in a relationship where you are not being treated kindly is a recipe for serious problems.
Your kids will learn a lot about relationships as they navigate their friendships. Friends sometimes do or say unkind things. In these situations, they apologize and make amends
. Your kids will understand that their true friends are kind to them.
By the time your kids are dating, it’s important that they expect to be treated with kindness. Your kids are more vulnerable in these intimate relationships. If they are not being treated with kindness and respect, ideally they will have the strength to leave the relationship.
You play a key role in teaching your kids about your moral values
including kindness. Your family operates at a higher level when everyone is treating each other kindly. Kindness is worth the effort!