Contributed by Sheri Louis
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions and the roots spring up and make new trees.”
I have read and seen many articles lately calling children entitled, saying that they have a lack of empathy and bad sportsmanship. I have done a lot of research some of which includes observing children at play and what I have come to realize is that children are inherently kind. They want to be connected and when they feel disconnected some of these negative behaviors can be played out.
Instead of asking how can we force our children to be kind and grateful, a better question might be, “How can adult interactions model and reinforce a child’s innate need for connection and kindness?”
In the not so distance past, parents and grandparents had an expectation that what they said was valued and the children must obey. Children were most likely raised in a punitive way. Today's research shows this is the antithesis of kindness and instead breeds anger, resentment, and unkind behavior.
Having observed many students and children (including my own) at play I have realized that kindness has an amazingly positive impact on children. It spreads more kindness, gratitude, and love. I began really practicing mindfulness around being kind but also around being more grateful for everyday moments. I have been making a conscious choice to change my attitude and notice what is good about my day, myself, and my children. I have been working on staying present and noticing what is happening right now. It can have a very simple and powerful impact on yourself and others.
Lastly, kindness helps you become more confident, more compassionate, and a more loving person. If those benefits weren't enough, kindness also improves your health as it lowers your stress levels. Children and adults can benefit from all of these things so it is time to start spreading some love.
Here are a few simple ways to randomly act with kindness:
Make eye contact and smile when you pass a stranger.
Tell a friend about something kind you noticed them doing.
Prepare a meal for a friend who needs it.
Be appreciative and gracious when you receive a compliment
Write a teacher a thank you note.
Take a walk in nature.
Tell one person every single day that you love them.
Tell yourself, every single day, that you love YOU.
Create something. Sit down and paint a picture, write a journal entry, make a collage, build a birdhouse, or sew a pillowcase.
Do something that makes you feel OH SO GOOD!