Teaching Kindness

Ryan and I have been looking forward to today, Random Act of Kindness Day, and have been talking about how we should participate. We decided that every day, each of us will do a special act of kindness and, at the end of the day, share with each other what we did. In fact, this morning, Ryan did an act of kindness for me. Usually, I ask him to complete his morning jobs before he goes to work….making his bed, setting the table and sweeping. Today, he spontaneously did everything! Moments like that are so touching and gratifying!

As I thought about the topic of kindness, I began to consider how kindness is taught. The rampant problem of bullying in our schools underlies a deeper issue – are we teaching our children to be kind?

It’s never too early for children to hear from parents that kindness and caring for others is a top priority. I think that Ryan and I were talking about this when he was three years old.

Learning to be caring is like learning anything else. It takes practice. Lots of it. This begins with us, the parents, as we are our child’s first teacher.  We play an important role as a mentor and role model.  Even when we are not aware, our child is observing us and seeing how we handle difficult situations. The way we respond is the way they will respond.

It’s easy to foster a caring attitude toward family and friends, but it can be more challenging to teach a child how to extend that to an unfamiliar person. I have always encouraged Ryan to learn more about and be open to different cultures and communities other than his own, but also to ask, “What can I do to help people in need?”

Talking about kindness is only part of the equation; kindness is best learned by feeling it and then reciprocating…being kind to others.

This week is a wonderful reminder to all of us to be kinder to the people and the world around us. Our world can certainly use some extra kindness!

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