If you’re here reading this blog, I believe it’s safe to assume that you care deeply about raising your child well so they become kind, integrous, hard-working and passionate individuals. This is a worthwhile goal and in order to see it come to fruition, it requires thought and intentional action on your part as the parent now. Raising great children doesn’t happen overnight and certainly isn’t achieved by words alone – they must see us model the type of characteristics we want them to carry.
I want you to have a little self-check moment here and ask yourself what type of character traits your kids are seeing you model:
- Are you patient when frustrated or does your temper get the better of you? e.g. do you yell or call drivers names when in traffic and someone cuts you off?
- Are you kind to others or do you make comments about people you see in the grocery store or when you’re out shopping? e.g. “I can’t believe the amount of junk food that woman has in her cart…”
- Do you listen well when your kids or spouse are talking, or are you on your phone the whole time?
- Do you speak life into your spouse/partner or make offhand snide comments about them if they didn’t help with the kids/cleanup/bedtime?
It’s easy to forget that little eyes and ears are watching us at all times. They often see us in our most private and unflattering moments whether we like it or not. Thankfully, even in our imperfection we can show them what it means to be a person of integrity! That is done by showing them how to apologize – and I’ve written a blog about that here.
For this month however, I want you to focus on teaching and displaying kindness. Each week pick one member of your family and find something (or several) kind things to say to/about them. You can even make it a game where everyone puts their name into a bowl or hat and whoever you draw is your person to encourage for the week!
I want you to specifically focus on praising character – this is what truly shapes your children as they grow! Depending on the ages of your kids, you’ll probably need to give them some examples of what this looks like. Let me get you started:
“I saw you helping your sister clean up the living room. That was so kind of you to help!”
“I noticed you shared your snack with your brother. That was so kind of you to do!”
“I heard you included someone new at lunch in school – that was so kind of you to extend an invitation!”
“I saw you hold open the door for someone at church. That was such a kind way to serve them!”
There are endless ways to speak about and model kindness to your kids. If you have younger ones who are struggling with articulating things like this, talk them through it! Ask them what they saw someone do, was it good/kind/bad, is it something they should try and do again, etc. Engage their curiosity and you’ll be amazed at how much they can figure out. You can even use yourself as an example: “Did you hear me tell mommy that I appreciated her cooking dinner tonight? Do you think that was a kind thing to do? What else could I have done or said that would have been kind?”
Once dialogues on kindness are common at home, they will start to see kindness everywhere (or where they can ADD kindness in the world!). It will become a joy to serve others – especially if they are seeing mom and dad do it, too. When you intentionally practice kindness together, it’s like kindness strength training for your child.
So parents, if you want your children to grow up to be strong, moral and kind adults, model that behavior for them and model it together as a family. You will be amazed at how quickly your child learns to serve and love others, just from watching you do it first.