We all want kind kids. We all want to believe that we are raising kids that are understanding, empathetic, inclusive…and are not bullies.
Intuitively, we know its important. But, how do you know if you are raising kind kids or a bully?
It turns out that when our kids are born, they are not born to be kind. Or unkind, for that matter.
They are born to care…but kindness takes practice. So, does aggressive behavior or being a
bully. Michele Borba explains in her book “Unselfie” that “though our children are hardwired to care, they don’t come out of the womb empathetic, just like they aren’t born knowing that
Brene Brown, another incredible woman and researcher in this area, explained that empathy and aggression come from the same part of the brain. Why is this important? Two reasons – it means that if empathy is a skill, so is aggression. And, second, it means that if you practice
one, it comes at the expense of the other.
So, if you practice kindness you are kind. If you practice aggression and meanness, well you
become a bully.
The best way to figure out if you are raising a kind person or a bully? Take a look at yourself
and your family.
I know, it’s the hard truth. But our kids learn from us. Even if they act like they don’t want to too, they do.
Here are a couple of things to check to see if you are doing on your own:
Praise kindness, not just achievement :
As a culture, we praise our kids for good grades, scoring a goal, or their performances. But, we don’t give the same “air time” to kindness or how we treat other people.
Show your kids how to forgive: Role model for your kids how to say sorry AND how to forgive someone if they’ve done something to you will show them how to let go of anger.
Help them see themselves as kind: Ask your kids what they did during the day that was kind. This will help them self-identify as a kind kids and realize that kind acts don’t have to be hard or difficult.
Make them understand that making mistakes is okay:
Overcoming a mistake or a failure as a kid (and as an adult too) is really hard. Help them view
failure as a feeling rather than an actual outcome.
Incorporate discussions with your kids weekly about their “gratitudes” as my kids call it. Feeling grateful for people and your life is scientifically proven to cultivate kindness.
Are you doing some of these things already? Then, congrats – you are building kind kids. Keep it up!
Reading this list and thinking – sheesh, I’m not doing much of this at all. It’s ok! It’s never too late to start. But, the most important thing is to start!
Tamara Johnson is a self-proclaimed #kindkid activist, entrepreneur, mom, and occasionally
funny blogger. She is the founder of The Kindness Crate , a subscription box providing fun
volunteering experiences for kids and families to practice kindness, empathy, and gratitude.