There is one phrase I always tell my family and friends, “As long as my daughter can grow up and not be an asshole, then I think I did a good job as a parent.” Of course, I want my kid to grow up and one day accomplish bigger and greater things than I have, but for me, it shouldn’t be at the cost of being a decent human being. Trying to raise a kind kid with empathy, concern, and care for all living things so she can grow up making a difference is at the top of my list, like so many parents.
You can google kindness studies and find all sorts of research studies of how kindness can make us happier, or how acts of kindness make us release endorphins and reduces stress, or how kindness supposedly makes us live longer, or how kindness is contagious. Now, I don’t need all the scientific data to persuade me to try and teach my daughter (below) to be kind, but it’s good to know that there are health benefits to being kind as an adult and very likely in kids too.
I’m a very practical person. As a Latina mom, I’m always multitasking and finding ways to teach my daughter in everyday life situations. The hospital doesn’t give you a “Here’s how to raise your child for the next 18 years” manual after you give birth. We all try our best, learn from as many resources as possible, including other mamás, and Yes, we’re still gonna screw it up some days, but we can't be so hard on ourselves, nadie es perfecto, and raising a human is hard work!
Luckily, we're happy to inspire raising kind kids and hopefully make it a little easier for you so you can focus on spending time with your familia.
So what are some everyday easy things We can do with our kids teach our kids to seramables? Here are some tips and tools that'll inspire your entire familia.
How to Teach Children to Be Kind
Be the Role Model and Practice Easy Kindness Every day
From the moment we wake up with a simple "Buenos Dias," to listening to our spouses about their day at work or even smiling and thanking the UPS carrier. These are all EASY things we can do things that our kids can model. Remember, kids will do as we do, not as we say.
Implement Kindness Words like Por Favor, (please) Gracias (thank you), De Nada (you're welcome), Puedo? (May I?) Love this from our Kindness Kids You Tube Playlist.
Practice Kindness With Yourself
Teaching our kids to love themselves is teaching them self compassion. Having self-compassion allows us to be more empathetic towards others. According to the Happiness Track by Emma Sepala P.H.D, self-compassion leads to strength, productivity, decreased stress and thus happiness and we definitely want happy kids!
- Use positive affirmations like, "I am strong. I am bella. I am worthy. I am proud of myself. I love myself." When kids here us saying these things they are likely to start this conversation with themselves.
- Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes and no one's perfect. As mom's, we have that constant balance struggle and mom guilt. I believe as long as our kids understand that we love them and we love ourselves, we're setting them on a good path. Forgiving yourself is practicing self-compassion.
- Take care of your body. I'll be the first one to say that this is where I struggle the most. I have to force myself to go to the gym or take a yoga class. I try and teach my daughter that I exercise to be strong not to lose weight (even if I am trying to lose and extra pound or two). I don't drink nearly as much water as I should and I know I have to see a doctor to make sure all the parts are running smoothly. I know many moms that struggle in this area too. Knowing and taking steps to take care of our bodies will teach them to take care of their bodies.
Take care of your mental health. As moms, it's so easy to get burned out. Finding ways to stay happy and relaxed will help you better deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and prevent meltdowns. Take time for yourself and find what works for you. Going for a long walk, having a workout, taking a warm bath after the kids go to bed, meditating, or going to church are just some ways you can relax. The key is to actually take the time for yourself.
Teach Kids to be Kind to AnimalsWe're often reminded to be kind to people but it is equally important to teach kids to be kind to animals and all living things because we all share our planet Earth. Animals, in particular, have basic emotion like us like fear, happiness, and sadness. When children understand that animals have needs and emotions too they're likely to be more empathetic.
Be gentle while petting pets.
Have your kids feed your pet.
Leaving food for the birds.
Giving money to an animal charity.
Visit the vet.
Teach Kids to Be Kind with Nature
Teaching kids to respect nature is teaching them to be kind to our environment and the world we live in.
Plant a seed with your child. Heart this book.
Have your kids water your plants.
Pick up litter at the park.
Stop and smell the flowers.
Recycle & Upcycle.
Teach Kids to Be Kind with the Elderly
As Latinos, many of us are raised to take care of our elderly like our aging parents and abuelos. It is our responsibility to care for them just as they cared for us. It is ingrained in our culture and tradición. Showing our kids how we take care of our elderly may one day reflect how they take care of us. This scene from Coco had me in tears but it is an endearing moment between a child and his great grandma.
Take an elderly neighbor a meal just because.
Offer to clean their driveway, sidewalk, or steps after a snowstorm.
Call yourneighbor for a talk, make it a family talk.
Have your kids paint a picture for an elderly friend just because.
Teach Kids to Be Kind Because it Matters
We are all given opportunities every day to show kindness, but are we always kind? Likely not. Making the conscious effort to be kind will enable us to connect more with people, reward us in more ways, build comunidad, and more importantly set an example for our children. I see my daughter as a mirror of myself. So many times I hear the positive and the negative come out of her mouth that's a direct result from what I say and do. She is a walking, breathing, and visual reminder of how I can better myself as a human being.
FINAL THOUGHT ON TEACHING KIDS TO BE KIND
Teaching kindness starts with us. Remember, nobody's perfect, and you don't have to be. Let's make it a habit to ask ourselves and our kids. In my Goals to Success Daily Task Sheets, I have a specific spot where I write down "1 kind thing I did today." It's a visual daily reminder for me to do a conscious act of kindness every day.
Every night before I go to bed, I ask my daughter 4 questions:
1) What made you happy today?
2) What made you sad today?
3) What made you angry today?
4) How were you kind today?
Having a daily dialog with our kids opens up communication and hopefully gets their kindness wheels rolling. We can only do our best and hope they won't be A-holes as adults ;)
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