Teaching Kids About Kindness

emotional intelligence parenting tips raising kids role model Feb 17, 2022
Teach Your Kids About Kindness

Do you wonder how you can raise your kids to be more kind?  The best place to start with raising kind kids is to actually be kinder to yourself.  So if you find that you are prone to beating yourself up, thinking that being hard on yourself will motivate you to change — you are actually making it harder for yourself to change. Kids learn through modeling, so when you take care of yourself and are kind to yourself, you’re actually teaching your kids about kindness.  

Studies have shown that when you make changes from kindness, the changes are more sustainable than trying to change from judgment and shame.  This includes all sorts of things from being more patient as a parent to losing weight — so it's important to teach our kids not only to be kind to others, but also to themselves.

Kindness encourages us to see situations more clearly and it gives us more resources.  It actually empowers us to learn from situations that didn’t go as we had hoped. When we spiral into shame, we shut down and inhibit our learning.  Shame shuttles our resources away from learning pathways and into survival pathways.  Kindness keeps us open to learning.

Let’s get practical and see what this would look like in a real-life situation when you just yelled at your child out of frustration and now you feel awful.

First, imagine that a dear friend just called you.  She was lamenting about how she had completely lost it on her kids that afternoon.  She felt awful and told you she was the worst Mom ever.  What would your response be?

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that you would most likely be kind and supportive.  You would tell her it was just a bad day, and that didn’t make her a bad Mom.  First, feel the kindness that you would have for your friend, and then turn it on yourself.

Bring that same level of kindness that you would bring to a friend, to yourself.  From this place, you are able to remain clear-headed and able to figure out how you might work on making things better with your child.  When you’re kind to yourself, you are kinder to your family.

Here’s how you might talk to yourself: Oh, sweetheart. I know you didn’t want to respond that way. You must be really stressed right now.  

The alternative to being kind is the shame spiral.  The shame spiral keeps you feeling awful which makes you tense, short-tempered, and more reactive.  You are not likely to be kind when you feel awful, and you are more likely to take it out on your family.

February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day.  I invite you to look for more moments when you can be kind to yourself this week because in being kinder to yourself, you will likely find yourself being kinder to others too!

If you want more tips on how to practice self-compassion and kindness, I highly recommend the book Good Morning, I Love You by Dr. Shauna Shapiro.  (this is not an affiliate link - I just love the book and want to share:)  In this book, Dr. Shapiro offers both the brain science behind our hardwired negativity and why we feel the way we do, and she lovingly shares self-kindness practices to counteract this negativity to help you find more peace and joy in your life.

Speaking of tips, I just released a 20 Tips in 20 Days Series with 20 simple, quick, and practical tips that are easy to try.  In less than 3 minutes a day, you can make parenting so much easier in 2022!  You can sign up to get the Twenty Tips here.  

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