We talk a lot about random acts of kindness changing the world. But starting with our kids means raising a generation of kids ingrained to expect kindness and not stand for anything else. At the end of this article is a list of 27 Simple Ways To Show Kindness To Our Kids. Grab a copy of this list RIGHT HERE, print it out, use it, and begin raising a kindness warrior today.
My kids go back to school tomorrow after an all-too-short weekend. It has been a hard week and whenever they are home for uninterrupted time, I am reminded of the wonderful mess that they whirlwind into my days. A breathtaking mixture of fun and loud and fighting and sweetness that makes me want to stop and freeze everything just as it is.
It is in these soft, slow days that I am also reminded of how I want to treat them.
Jason and I parent a lot for the future. We make decisions in how we treat our kids today to try to make sure that they are smart, resilient, and independent adults later. I think that this is a wise way to parent about 80% of our fleeting parenting time. The other 20% of the time, I try to remember to hold onto what two Early Childhood teachers told me when I was lucky enough to be in one of their classes.
Those early days were hard in the blurry way and this first teacher was such a lovely source of light for me – and I suspect for many others – with her perfectly curled hair, purposefully placed makeup, and the kind of voice that soothed away moments with a fussy infant or a crying toddler. She was our teacher when all three of our kids were babies and each time we were in her class, she sent this message at least once:
Everybody deserves to have at least one person in their lives who thinks that they hung the moon. I want to be that person for my kids.
I think this advice is the perfect soft landing to the rest of the input that we get as parents to not make our kids too soft. I also think that a little softness in this hard world is okay.
One of the times that this Early Childhood teacher was absent, we had a substitute teacher. She was youthful, funny, and loud. Her long, curly, blond hair was pulled away from her face and when you talked, you knew she was listening; her eyes stayed intently on yours. She had teenagers, kids much older than the toddlers and newborns we were all juggling. It is these details, her intent look, and one piece of advice that she gave us that I remember most vividly about her.
She told us to every once in a while do things for our kids; that it would mean so much to them.
For whatever reason, that advice stuck with me; it, too, perhaps felt like a soft landing. So all these years later, when I have my kids pack and unpack their own snacks and lunches daily, it’s her voice that I hear when I do do these tasks for them every once in a while because they are running late or maybe because I am running early. And I see in the way that their eyes and their voices soften that they do, indeed, appreciate this help, just like this teacher said that they would.
So while 80% of the time I let my kids talk to their teachers about forgotten homework and let them feel the zing, and the reminder to do better next time, of the lunch still on the counter, the unclean uniform, the forgotten sweatshirt on a crisp day, the other 20% of the time I do what I can to make sure that they know that they have a soft landing in me, and that I think that they hung the moon.
Just like there is a danger in raising our kids too softly, I think there is an equal danger in raising them too hard.
We talk a lot about acts of kindness being the way to change the world and about the importance of treating others the way we want to be treated and the way that we think that they want to be treated. But somewhere along the way, I think that we forget to include our kids in these mantras.
I am not advocating for being on call for our kids at all times of the day. I am (gently) suggesting that we treat our kids with the same grace and kindness that we would anyone else. Help them when they need it, offer encouragement when they seem to need that, and to not grasp onto every single moment as a teachable one.
We should treat our kids with the same grace and kindness that we would anyone else.
The way that we treat our kids today becomes the road map for how they think others should be treated and for how they face the world and expect it and its people to treat them.
I can hardly think of a better place to start with kindness than with our children, and I can hardly think of a better way to make an impact in how people treat each other in our world than by raising a generation of kids who expect kindness and are surprised by anything less than that.
So here are 27 ways to treat our kids with kindness, to soften the edges of what can be a hard world. A 20% buffer to 80% of parenting lessons, if you will. Small moments of kindness to show our kids, to bookend to the endless lessons and teachable moments that we find at every turn of every day.
CLICK HERE to get your own copy of this list, then use it to be – and to raise – a kindness warrior.
- Pack their lunch, add a dessert.
- Unpack their lunchbox (without complaining).
- Bring them their sweatshirt.
- Have cookies as an after school snack.
- Listen to their stories. Don’t give advice.
- Watch them play their sports, put your phone away.
- Write them good luck notes for their tests and their games and their auditions. Leave these at their table spot, on the bathroom mirror, on the door on their way out of the house.
- Let them sleep in, no snark, keep breakfast on the table, ready to be warmed. Bonus (kindness) points for sitting with them while they eat it.
- Fold their laundry.
- Stay up late with them to finish that project.
- Say yes to play dates and sleepovers and car pools. Provide the pizza at night and the waffles in the morning.
- Help them come up with ideas to make money to buy that coveted item. If you can, match what they earn.
- Make that birthday or that holiday a little more special. Add that ribbon, plan that surprise, pour the m&m milk.
- Take pictures, be in some.
- Say yes when you can.
- Say good night to them while they’re in their beds.
- Go in for that extra hug.
- Answer their questions.
- Tell them stories from when they were little.
- Don’t dismiss their complaints.
- Laugh at their jokes.
- Watch their impromptu plays and dances and performances.
- Look at them in the eyes, smile, and tell them that you’re happy to see them every time you reconnect.
- Invite them to go with you to run errands, even if they’ve said no before or if it would be faster to go alone. If you’re lucky and they say yes, treat them to a frap.
- Clear their dishes.
- Hug before you part.
- Notice them enough to give one real, authentic compliment a day. The noticing is where the (kindness) magic lies, but compliments are really kind, too.
There is no right or wrong way to be kind to our kids as long as we remember that they’re human and we lead with the fact that we are lucky to be the ones who get to parent them. CLICK HERE to get that list and to begin raising kindness today.
Galit Breen is the author of Kindness Wins, a simple no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She blogs at TheseLittleWaves.NET and tweets at @GalitBreen. Her original list of 27 ways to show kindness to kids can be found right HERE.