The Power of Kindness Starts in Your Home

When I was growing up, being teased, picked on, and enduring the occasional mean prank was part of my childhood. There were good days and days that I pretended to be sick so that I could stay home from school. My parents were immigrants to this country, and they taught us to turn the other cheek and to ignore other people’s ignorance. As a kid I had to learn how to deal with it, and prayed that the next day would be a better day.

I am now a mother of five and am protective as ever of my kids. I don’t want them to experience what I did, and I ask them regularly about school and if they encountered any mean kids. It seems like kids are meaner nowadays with their smartphones.  They are empowered to think of more creative ways to torment someone they dislike while they hide behind their screens. Schools are doing their best to address the “bullying” issue and teaching the kids about kindness and ways to stop bullying. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about teen suicide or something tragic happening in our schools. If the schools are doing all that they can to combat the issue then why is bullying still so rampant?

Teaching kindness and acceptance doesn’t happen overnight. It starts within your own home and is instilled in you at an early age. Parents are the best teachers and role models for their child when it comes to love. Here are five values that I feel are important when it comes to teaching our kids about kindness. If we spread enough kindness and love, then perhaps one day our world will be safer for our children.

Teach your child not to see color.

My children’s best friends are all different ethnicities then they are. They are taught to choose friends that are kind to them, share common interests, and enjoy hanging out with. I overheard a conversation at a park when a little boy was telling his mother about his friend at school and she replied, “What color is your friend?” Children don’t see color until they are made aware of it.

Teach your child to embrace differences.

Houston is a huge melting pot of different cultures, ways of life and religious beliefs. Instead of letting our differences separate us, teach your child to see the goodness in people. My daughter and I were invited to a baby shower recently for one of our neighbors. We were the only non-Muslim guests and we had such an amazing time. We communicated with other party guests the best we could {because we didn’t speak their language} and tasted new foods. And the best part was seeing our Muslim neighbors without their hijabs on since no men were at the party. It was truly a wonderful cultural experience and we wouldn’t have had that opportunity if we allowed our differences to scare us.

Teach your child to be inclusive.

We’ve all been excluded from something at one point in our lives and it does not feel good. It hurts. My son often tells me about this boy that all the kids avoid because they are afraid of him because he is mean. On one particular day, the teacher announced that they needed to find a partner to complete a class assignment. This boy immediately reacted by saying that he hates partner work and pouted. Well to everyone’s surprise, my son chose him that day and he wasn’t the last one picked for once. My son told me that he wasn’t so bad and he felt bad for him when he saw how he reacted to having to find a partner. I really was just so proud of my son. Later that week, my son forgot his snack money. The school serves a special snack every Friday, and he had to put it back because he didn’t have money for it. As he was eating his lunch the same boy walked by and placed the ice cream on his plate and said that he used his own money to buy it for him since he didn’t have any. I think my son’s action meant a lot to that boy and he was reciprocating the kindness that he was given. The two boys have become friends since then and play often at recess together. You’ll be amazed at how a little kindness can change a person.

Teach your children that their actions and words MATTER!

We all laugh when our little ones say the darnest things but there comes a point when those darnest things are no longer cute and funny. They carry weight and have the power to hurt. This is a value that I’m still working on with my kids because many times they don’t even realize that they are hurting someone’s feelings. My kids don’t have a mean bone in their body but we are learning how to filter the stuff that comes out of their mouths. It’s important as parents to teach our kids to apologize when they do hurt others. The best apology I got recently was from my 8 year old, “I’m so sorry mommy that I said you needed bigger shorts to cover your jiggly thighs. Are you mad at me? I’m sorry.” Followed by lots of hugs and checking to make sure that I was no longer sad. Honestly, I wasn’t that mad but I wanted him to get use to not saying those kinds of things.

Teach your child to not tolerate hate. 

Bullies thrive on hurting others and getting a reaction from people. We can instill in our kids empathy and the courage to speak up for victims. This could mean directly standing up for someone in need or reporting it to the proper authority so that they can be made aware of it.  

We can’t fix the world but we can help create enough kind and compassionate little people who will grow up to make a difference one day.      

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