Kindness is a teachable virtue—but you have to make it a high priority.
I recently spoke with Thomas Lickona, Ph.D. for my Parenting Great Kids podcast. You can listen to our conversation here. Thomas also writes occasionally for Psychology Today, and I asked him if I could share one of his most recent posts, “Raising Kind Kids: 5 Simple Things You Can Do”. I hope you enjoy it!
1. Use the language of kindness in your family.
This will help to convey kindness as an important family value and expectation. For example:
“Would you be kind enough to help your sister pick up the family room?”
“That was a kind thing to do.”
“Thank you for your kindness.”
“Can you use kinder words to say that?”
“How can you settle this in a kind and peaceful way?”
2. As a family, brainstorm ways to practice kindness.
Together, make a list of kind things people do for others. Examples:
- A person holds a door for someone coming behind.
- Someone gives up a seat on a bus or subway.
- People stop to help a driver who’s having trouble.
- A passerby gives food or money to a homeless person.
- Neighbors or church members make meals for a family that’s just had a baby, is facing a serious illness, or has lost a loved one.
- A student is friendly to a schoolmate who seems to have no friends.
- You offer to help with housework or yardwork without waiting to be asked.
- You share a snack or treat with someone.
- Once you have your list of kind acts, as a family, create a definition of kindness. Use the sentence starter: “Kindness is . . . ”
“Kindness is thinking of others and not just yourself.”
“Kindness is helping someone who needs help.”
“Kindness is caring about others and doing nice things for them.”
Post your definition of kindness in a prominent place.
Finally, in order to translate awareness of kindness into action, discuss ways you can each show kindness in the family, school, neighborhood, and so on. Ask each family member to commit to one way of trying to be kinder in the week to come.
...in order to translate awareness of kindness into action, discuss ways you can each show kindness in the family, school, neighborhood, and so on. - Thomas Lickona