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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kindness is a verb

Tell me, I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.~ Chinese Proverb I am working on trying to help my 6 yr old understand what it means to be kind. Contrary to popular belief, this is not something that children are born with and I often see people aghast at young childrens' displays of anger or meanness towards others. All it means is that these children have not been taught kindness or empathy yet. Even at 6 it can often be a hard concept to grasp, as their own impulses and urges can still be overwhelming. According to greatschools.org, these are the social milestones for this age:

Social and Emotional Development

  • grows more independent, yet feels less secure
  • craves affection from parents and teachers
  • friendships are unstable; can be unkind to peers
  • needs to win and may change rules to suit herself
  • may be hurt by criticism, blame, or punishment
  • can be rigid, demanding, and unable to adapt
  • increasingly aware that others have may have different feelings

As I have personally witnessed how my daughter internalizes any reprimanding, I know this is not the way to show her when her behavior towards others is wrong. It just makes her feel like she is a bad person, instead of a person who just made a mistake. So I have compiled a list of activities to involve my daughter in, to try and demonstrate acts of kindness:

  •  demonstrate it, by never talking about others negatively, and pointing out kind acts that I do
  • write letters of appreciation to past teachers/friends/relatives that made a difference in her life
  • bake cookies of thanks for dance teacher/school teacher and talk about how it will make them feel to receive these
  • pick a friend each week and talk about kind acts she could do for that child (ie let her pick the game they play on the playground, or tell her something good about herself.)
  • make a backpack for a homeless person, and let her choose the things that he/she might need
  • volunteer at a shelter
  • draw a special picture for our neighbor (whom she adores) letting her know why she is so special.
  • write a letter to one of our sponsored children
  • learn about an animals environment and how to protect/take care of it
  • teach her to care for our dog (giving her food and water, walking her) and be gentle with her
  • "catch" her being kind to her brother, dog, relative or whoever and give praise for it
  • lastly, I am writing a story for her, with her being the main character being kind to everyone she meets, called "The Kindest Girl in the World". Children love having stories about themselves.
For more ideas of acts of kindness, go to this website. It's fun!
Remember to acknowledge your child's age and don't admonish them for being well, children! But also give them the tools they need to navigate through life with a good conscious.

Love and parenting power,
Kerry, the Momster

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