Kindness is like is a giant bear hug on a bad day; it warms the heart. To walk through life with a kind spirit is what every parent wishes for their child. I teach my kids that they should be kind to others simply because it is the right thing to do. There is no other reason needed.
But when do we start to teach our little ones about kindness and how do we do it? With my precious Jada, I find that everyday offers up countless opportunities to teach her about kindness. In the past, I have focused so much on teaching our children to share, but there is a deeper lesson there. Don’t get me wrong; sharing is awesome and I still plan to teach them how important it is. However, I have realized that it’s about more than sharing. It’s about kindness.
One of the things we do in my home to teach our little ones about kindness is working together as a team. Whether it’s clean up time in the playroom or cooking time in the kitchen, we try to do many of our daily tasks together when we can. It shows Jada how important it is to help those around her, not because she has to but because she wants to (and it’s fun).
What’s even more important than our team approach to things is taking the time to check in on each other. If someone looks upset or sad, someone else always asks that person if everything is okay. After all, a house of sad faces just isn’t going to work. Jada may not fully understand what all this “checking in” is about, but in time she will and she will begin to do it herself.
I’ve also learned to smile more. Just the other day I was so upset about something that had nothing to do with Jada, but I was wearing my emotions all over my face while fixing her snack. I looked down at her sitting on the floor and she just stared at me with a confused look. In that moment, I realized that she was so impressionable and she needed to see something other than my gloomy face. I smiled. She looked at me and gave me the biggest smile in return. Amazing. She simply gave back what she received.
As a family, we also try to use our words to explain kindness to Jada. I know she is only 15 months old, but our babies can absorb so much of what we say at that age. And it’s not just the words, but it’s also our body language and tone. We try to communicate in a kind way, because she is learning how to communicate with the world by watching how we talk to her and to each other.
However, with all my attempts to teach Jada about kindness, I know who really has some major influence in this household. It’s her 4-year-old brother. One of the most important things I can do to teach her kindness at such a young age is to teach it to her older brother. A few months ago, my son gathered several toys he owned that were in excellent condition and we packaged them to drop off at a charity. He understood why we were doing it and he did it cheerfully. I was so proud. I know that Jada will see her brother behave kindly and she will want to follow in his footsteps.
I’m not sure if other children will enter our family picture one day, but if they do, I know they will have two older siblings who will definitely show them what kindness is all about. I couldn’t ask for more.