Hardly a week goes by without a news story about a school shooting or other act of large scale heinous violence. On a smaller, yet no less of an important scale, school bullying and just meanness seem to run rampant at times in our schools. Do we live in a society that stresses personal happiness and one of self –fulfillment at the expense of compassion and kindness to others? Is this trickling right down to our children? Like all things for our children, emphasizing and modeling the later qualities start early with our children. As a parent, I often wonder about what concrete things or examples my husband and I showing our three little ones when it comes to be a kind person. How do we teach these principles? How does our family live the ‘Golden Rule’?
An article that appeared over the summer in the “Washington Post” Parenting Section offers some concrete examples of teaching kindness to our children. In her article, “Are You Raising Nice Kids? A Harvard Psychologist Gives 5 Ways to Raise Them to be Kind,” parenting writer Amy Joyce discusses this issue. She talks about Harvard Psychologist Richard Weissbourd’s ” Making Care Common Project” and what he teaches with his initiative. They include: 1) Making caring for others a priority; 2) Providing Opportunities for Children to Practice Caring and Gratitude; 3) Expanding Your Child’s Circle of Concern; 4) Being a strong moral role model and mentor; and 5) Guiding Children in Managing Destructive Feelings. From letting your children know kindness is an important value you hold dear and strongly in your household and emphasizing kindness and respectfulness in all their transactions with others, to expecting and having your child help around the house; volunteering as a family; helping the vulnerable in our population; relating the problems children in our society and less developed countries can face; and helping them appropriately deal with their feelings, particularly the anger variety, there are many opportunities to emphasize empathy, kindness, helping others, and treating others just, plain well! Children must see it at home; practice it routinely; and embrace it as they way in which to live…..