Creating Kindness:

The most valuable of attributes

I think my two-year-old grandson has all the makings of an Olympic Swimmer: the height, the talent, the high energy level, and the strong pain tolerance. I know he’s exceptionally brilliant. I can tell by the way he can “read” “Go, Dog. Go!” And he’s so artistic, which is obvious if you look at his pre-school scribblings. Of course, I’m kidding. As much as I am crazy about my two-year-old grandson I have no idea what his interests will be, where his true talents will lie and what he will choose to become. More important than him standing on the Olympic podium or receiving his medical degree, I hope he develops character attributes which aren’t always visible or valued highly enough.

Taking care of the pets is a good way to show kindness and caring.

My greatest wish is for my grandchild to be a kind person. When you think about it, doesn’t kindness cover everything that’s truly important? If we lived in a world where people strictly observed the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have done to you,” wouldn’t the rest of the problems disappear? As Henry James said, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” We can’t control the rest of the world, but we can begin with ourselves and within our families.

Callister’s shirt says “Be Happy, Be Kind” and that sums up what I want for him!

Research shows that empathy is an innate quality in children, yet studies also show empathy in college students in the United States has shown a sharp decline in recent years whereas narcissism is on the rise. This points to a lack of nurturing the qualities of kindness and compassion. Denmark is often ranked the happiest country in the world, and part of that happiness stems from the culture of kindness and empathy. From the beginning of school years through high school graduation, one hour a week at school is devoted to empathy. Students take turns bringing a treat to share, and the class discusses problems students are having and solutions are discussed. Teachers say the most important aspect is to have all children feel important, to feel heard. The Danish work on creating and nurturing a culture of kindness and empathy.

Callister’s job at his pre-school is feeding the fish, a job he takes very seriously and helps promote thinking of other creatures’ needs and feelings.

My grandson’s recent second birthday party made me start thinking about kindness and how parents and grandparents can teach kindness as a value and a behavior. I watched with great pride as he shared his toys with a younger guest, very gently handing her toys and making sure she was happy. I was still beaming with pride at his evidence of kindness when out of the blue, while opening presents, he whacked his older cousin on the head with his truck. He wasn’t angry at his sweet cousin; it was like an over-excited swinging wildly, but it was also not an accident. Fortunately, she wasn’t badly hurt and handled it like a prize fighter, shaking it off. We tried to get him to apologize, but we weren’t very successful, which leads me to the question: How do we teach kindness?

1.Turn off the news– Unfortunately, we’re seeing many examples of unkindness from leaders on the news these days, and it’s not a good lesson for our young children. Name calling is not acceptable for children or adults.

2. Lead by example– Make sure they see examples in the family. Do you treat one another with kindness? For me, this translates into pleases and thank yous and being thoughtful of one another. Treat family members as well as you treat strangers. Taking care of pets is also a good way to teach kindness and caring.

3. Monitor your own attitude– Are you trash talking people in front of your child? This can include road rage, the way you treat waitresses, and what you say about others behind their back. You may think they are too young to understand, but believe me when I say they are listening and modeling your talk and behavior. Be a positive role model; remember they want to be just like you.

4. Reinforce the positive– When you see them doing something nice, make sure you give them positive verbal feedback. Example: You see they have willingly shared their toys with their sister you should say something like, “That was so kind of you to share your Legos with your sister. I know that made her happy.” It’s always more productive to reinforce the positive rather than extinguish the negative.

5. Read stories about kindness– Why not incorporate books about kindness into your reading routine? Here is a list of children’s books about kindness.

6. Help others– Volunteer to help others and involve your kids. This can be as simple as helping an older neighbor with chores or delivering Meals on Wheels. Show them helping others is a positive experience for both parties involved.

It would be a thrill to see my grandchild be Valedictorian of his high school class or to watch him walk across the stage and receive a college degree. There is no doubt I’d be his biggest fan at the Olympics or at the grand opening of his art display at Philbrook. But what I hope for him more than anything is happiness, love and a heart full of kindness and caring!

“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” – Theodore Isaac Rubin


Categories: Grand Life

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