Swiss philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, asked, “What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?” With great satisfaction and warmth in being compassionate, gestures of kindness offer rewards to both providers and recipients.
Teaching Children to Be Kind
Inherently egocentric, the concerns of others are typically secondary to a child’s own primary concerns. As kids learn to navigate life, fathers should imprint upon their hearts the importance of kindness. As consideration for others develops into a foundational attitude, kindness becomes habitual, naturally extending throughout our lives in a reciprocal, utilitarian progression.
Kindness is a learned behavior. We can do more than just talk the talk by also walking the walk—intentionally expanding our own concerns to also recognize the concerns of others. When children demonstrate acts of kindness, offer positive reinforcement with expressions of pride and admiration. As we live and teach, remember that most communication is non-verbal; body language and tone of voice truly matter. Speak to others with sensitivity, tolerance, and compassion. Treat the property and belongings of others with respect. Follow The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
If children do something cruel or thoughtless, intervene at the first opportunity. Make eye contact, ask them why, and listen intently as they explain themselves (they might feel justified). When it’s our turn to speak, maintain their undivided attention, and assertively explain that acts of cruelty and thoughtlessness are forbidden in our household. Be firm, honest, and keep the focus on the act, not on the child. Then, pause for a moment, and gently ask them to consider how they would feel if that (unkind act) was done to them. Kiddos have vivid imaginations—with a little bit of descriptive assistance—we can elicit an appropriate response. If they cannot quite get there, help them formulate an answer—help them internalize the lesson.
The quickest way to teach kindness is to help children learn to see the world through another’s eyes. The idea isn’t to make them feel guilty for a lapse in judgment but to teach empathy so they can feel how much kindness matters. By being kind to them while we teach them about kindness, we positively reinforce the behaviors we seek to instill. As always—actions speak louder than our words.
Consider the character of the people we bring around our family. By surrounding ourselves with kind, positive role models, kindness becomes that much more contagious.
Children absorb good feelings like a sponge, seeking out social connections with other kind children. This is reinforced for the rest of our lives, as men and women gravitate towards those who make us feel good. Simple acts of kindness can lead to new and long-lasting friendships. American politician, Bob Kerry, said, “Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.”
Scientific research has proven that acts of kindness and their corresponding emotional responses can trigger the release of the hormone oxytocin, which can lead to lower blood pressure and promote heart health. Oxytocin is also linked to slowing down the body’s aging process: one more reason to be kind.
Of all the good habits, kindness is one of the most important. When we show kindness, we make the world a better place, preserving the light and rejecting the darkness. American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote, “You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
“Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” —Hebrews 13:1-2 KJV
Adib Khorram’s brilliant debut is for anyone who’s ever felt not good enough—then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.
The Power of Kindness thrills and challenges readers with one promise: acts of decency are the secret to a fuller, more satisfying life. Kindness is not some squishy virtue but the very key to your own happiness.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.