Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kindness in Children

Life this summer has been grand!  Call me crazy, extra crazy, but my girls and I are home alone this summer with no school whatsoever.  No Mom's Day Outs and no summer camps.  We are doing a few mommy-and-me music and art classes, but that's it.   Which means no break for mommy, but I am loving not having to be anywhere in the mornings, not having to pack a lunch for school the next day and not having to deal with drama getting dressed to go to school.  I've really enjoyed getting up in the mornings and enjoying breakfast with my girls and not having to rush out the door.

But with that being said, spending 24/7 with my preschooler and baby means more time for some temper tantrums and melt downs.  I was reading an article in one of my parenting magazines I read about teaching children Kindness and compassion and it really hit home with me. The article talked about modeling patience and kindness will really go a long way in how they treat others and (that kindness and happiness leads to success later in life).

So when my child is throwing temper tantrums, I need to remember to model patience and understanding.  Teaching her that when a person is hurt and upset, it's nice to be warm and kind to them so she knows how important compassion is.

I always go back to the How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk book too, because it is SO great and because it is the basis for everything.  The chapters on acknowledging feelings is so fundamental to life and raising children.  When my child is crying, throwing herself on the floor and having a temper tantrum, I try to acknowledge the feeling and respond, "it looks like you are feeling really mad right now."  And give a hug.  I know I've mentioned this before, but I swear 9 times out of 10, just giving her a hug and asking if she needs a hug, solves the drama right there.

It also takes paying 'attention' to what it is deep down they are needing.  Are they upset all of a sudden and don't want to take a bath?  Maybe last time they slipped in the tub and are afraid.  Are they crying because she doesn't want to go to school?  Maybe they are afraid of being away from you all day, or there's a child at school who scares them, etc. 

And speaking of separation anxiety for school, I LOVE the Llama Llama Misses Mama book, so cute!  Definitely get it to help your preschooler and toddlers learn about being away from their mommas while at school.

Like when I put my child to bed and she asks for something 5 times, whether it's water, a new book to read, another hug and I am frustrated because I have had to stop whatever I am doing to go in her room to figure it out, I need to learn to have a little more patience and understanding.  It takes thinking for a second what it is she REALLY needs.  Even though I had just sat down on the sofa to finally have a free moment to myself, I need to ask myself what it is my child is really wanting.  Is it more attention?  Is she afraid of the dark?  Does she need me to lay down with her for 5 minutes?

The whole bedtime routine is hard for parents because every child goes through that 'avoiding bedtime' ritual.  And yes it does take firm limit setting so they know that they can't ask you 10 times for a drink of water so they don't have to go to bed.  But at the same time, figuring out what it is they need.  Being alone in a big dark room can be scary and even if your child is 3 or 11, it's completely normal for them to be afraid at times and need some extra comforting.

Modeling kindness when someone is hurt, sad, or in need is a HUGE way to teach your child how to respond to others and teaches them empathy, a great powerful trait to have!  And also modeling this with grown-ups in front of them is a great tool as well.  "It looks like your daddy is not feeling well and I need to get him some water and a cool washcloth to put on his head."

Another act of kindness I try to point out to my kids is whenever my children are going in and out of a door and someone holds it open for us, I make a big deal out of it, "Look, that nice man is holding the door open for us!! We say thank you to people that do that for us.  It's always nice to hold doors open for people."  And my daughter has been learning to say "thank you" to people on her own now as we go through doors.  She's maybe been learning it a little too well because my husband told me the other day he was taking our preschooler to the library and as they were going through the door, a man walked out and didn't hold it for them.  She turned to my husband and said, "daddy, that man didn't hold the door for us!" and it was right in front of the man too!  Serves him right :)

Also asking your children when they seem frustrated with a task, "How can I help?" can teach them to reach out to others and help when they are in need.  "It looks like you need help picking up your puzzle" can teach them to lend a hand.

And I also have to remember that in order to teach my girls compassion and kindness, I also have to be kind to myself.  Get the rest I need, take the breaks I need and do things I enjoy, so that I can have the patience to give back to them :)


  1. So true, kindness is something most children are not being taught these days.