By: Nicole Chick of Early Literacy Labs
To think about how I teach my children to be kind was a little overwhelming at first. I am a work-at-home mom to four-year old twins. I thought to myself, “Well, of course I try to model kindness all day long. If they are having a problem, I model the best way to solve it. I try to be a kind, patient, mama and through that effort, they must understand what it means to be kind. “ Then I thought, but I must do things explicitly that teach my child how to be kind on a daily basis. I then thought of two simple rituals I strive to do everyday for my children to instill in them that they matter, are important and that they are loved. These are things a person would do for anyone they cared for and were striving to be kind to
- Greet them with a smile. No matter the mood I am in or the time of day, if I have been away from them, I smile and give them a huge hello. Of course this is easy when I am picking them up from preschool, but I found sometimes my first greeting of the day was less than warm and fuzzy. I try to get up earlier than my children everyday. This allows me to not only have time to get work done, but also to start my day in a quiet, calm way. I try to meditate and enjoy the sunrise. My son can be an early riser as well. When he gets up shortly after me or before me, I would find myself not being the model of kindness. I would be visibly annoyed and greet him saying, “You are up early- Mama needs to work.” I had a moment one day that made me realize this is no way to start anyone’s day. If I think about my mama legacy, what will my son remember? A scowling mother telling him he is up too early? I now make a conscious effort to greet him with a smile and a hug every morning, no matter how early or how stressed I am. Through this, I hope he reflects my kind behavior and greets others the same way, no matter his mood.
- Stop what you are doing and look them in the eye. I am with my kids all day. I hear every story, complaint, whine and question all day long. There were times I would reflect on the day and think to myself, “Did I really connect with them, did I give them enough attention, and did I really listen?” I began to realize I felt like as though I didn’t connect with them because as they were talking I was multi-tasking, trying to get my long to-do list done. I hardly ever stopped my body to LOOK at them when they spoke. I was cleaning dishes, unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, and the worst: on my phone! I made it a goal that when they were talking to me, I would physically stop my body from moving and look at them in the eye as they spoke and as I responded. This simple effort has made a world of difference. My responses to their questions are not so rushed and are more meaningful. The sense of connection has grown tenfold. Also, this is something I want my children to do for others. Everyone loves to feel listened to and validated. Hopefully, through showing them I am truly listening and what they say matters, they will look others in the eye when they are talking and be a kind friend to other children and adults in their lives.
Teaching your children how to be kind does not always have to be a long explanation about how we treat others. It can sometimes be simple small changes in our behavior as parents, which then models the desired behavior we want from them now and in the future. Show your child the person you want them to be by trying to connect with them with kindness every day.
About the Author...
Nicole Chick is a former first grade teacher who is now a work-at-home mom of four-year-old twins. She is the founder of Early Literacy Labs, an educational consulting company focusing on private tutoring and developing literacy workshops for teachers and parents.