April 5, 2010

RAOK Challenge – Day 5: Teaching Children


Welcome to Day 5 of the Random Act of Kindness Challenge. I’m thrilled at the number of people who have decided to join me and Valerie in our goal to find small but meaningful ways to spread kindness. If you haven’t already grabbed our button, please do so and let everyone know you’re doing your part to make each day as nice as can be not just for you but for others as well.

Doing this RAOK Challenge has provided me with the perfect opportunity not only to talk about the need to do nice things for other people, but also to put those words into action and show BabyGirl what it means.  She’s 7 and while she is an amazingly empathetic girl, there is alway room to grow.

Often, kids are told to be nice to other people but they don’t really know what it means. Kids get a lot of ‘be nice to your brother‘ or ‘hold the door for your sister‘ or even ‘share with Jimmy‘ but they don’t quite understand that if they did those things without being told that they would be doing something nice — not just for their brother or sister, but for themselves and mom and dad too.

How do you explain all the little things that make up the bigger picture of kindness? It’s nearly impossible. I’ve found that it’s better to be a good role model and demonstrate what it means to be kind rather than lecture.

Everyday we have countless opportunities to show our kids that kindness works wonders. Not only with the outside world, but also within our homes. I know I’ve been guilty of not always taking that moment to express my gratitude for something nice BabyGirl has done, other than to say a half-hearted thank you while trying to make dinner or do laundry. But I recognize it and work to do better the next time.

How can I expect her to do the right thing (whatever that may be) if I do not model the appropriate behavior. As parents we have an awesome responsibility when it comes to teaching our children about good behavior. It takes years, I’ve found out. There is no magic potion. There is no a-ha moment for a 5-year old when they sit up in their booster seat and realize what karma is all about. That what they give is what they get.

As kids get older, it may be easier to see the results of the years of hard work we put in as parents. But for those of us with younger kids, there are days we bury our head in our hands (sometimes while holed up in the bathroom sobbing and hoping the kids screaming will drown us out) and wonder if they’ll ever get it and be nice to each other.

I’ve been assured by my friends that our kids do eventually get it. I’ve seen first hand that they do watch us and learn more by our actions than by what we say. We are role models. We are teachers. But most importantly, we are loving parents whose actions speak louder than words.

How are you teaching and modeling acts of kindness in your life? How have your children learned that goodness and kindness are important? Please share how you are making a difference not only for your children but for yourself and your community.


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