The holidays are almost upon us, and people are already thinking about what presents to give their loved ones this year. For parents, however, the best gift may not be something that money can buy. It can take the form of lessons that would serve your children, even as they grow into adults and create a path of their own to walk on. In this list of lifetime learnings, "kindness" should be at the very top.
It is common knowledge that doing kind things makes one feel better and gives meaning to our lives, but scientific studies show that it has other effects that can be observed. Doing good has shown to help counter negative feelings such as anxiety and depression that may undermine the health and well-being of people in all walks of life. In a world that is plagued with stressors that impact many of society's sectors such as economy and education, the need to be that force of good - a spark of light in the darkness - has never been greater.
This is a most opportune time to make your children realize the importance of giving, not just as an act of bestowing someone with a tangible object, but also as a way of sharing themselves - their time, skills, and love - to family and other people who matter. Here are some ideas that can serve as a guide in raising caring and kind children:
- Ask your children to put themselves in somebody else's shoes. It's easy to lash out at other people when we're hurt, and intense emotions can easily cloud our judgment. Ask your children to imagine what they would feel and how they would react if they were on the other side of a conflict. This can help your kids be more sensitive and develop empathy towards their peers. It would also make them feel more conscious of their words and actions.
- Call out negative behavior. Address questionable conduct or attitude, but make sure to explain why such an action is not contributing to the creation of a peaceful and happy environment. Work with your children as they contemplate on misdeeds and think of how to do and be better for themselves and the people around them. This is a great way to teach them accountability.
- Be their "Kindness Model". Give weight to your words by being a shining example of kindness. Look for opportunities to do a good deed and let your children in on it. Whether giving food to a sick neighbor or helping out at a local charity organization, stand by their side and allow them to see how kind acts can put smiles on people's faces and ignite positive change.
- Expect your kids to share and be considerate. Make kindness a habit by routinely asking your children to share and consider others when they are in a position to give back. When nurtured, the practice of kindness will no longer be a "must-do", but a mindset that can keep them grounded at all times.
Unlike current trends, kindness never goes out of style. There's no better time to start building your kids up to be the best that they can be, and it is completely free of charge. All it takes is wisdom, an open heart, and an understanding mind.