Developing the habit of kindness enhances your life, and your child's life, in so many ways. Beyond the obvious benefits of making the community a better place, kind people are happier, experience more peace of mind, and enjoy respect and goodwill. Establishing this life giving habit in your child is a great gift. Read and be encouraged!
I see messages encouraging kindness on t shirts fairly regularly. I love them because words matter. Words always matter whether written or spoken. Anytime I see words that remind me of our God ordained responsibility to treat each other well, I examine my inner woman. How can I love my family and community well? Am I loving generously and selflessly? Do I put the needs of others in front of mine as scripture instructs? Becoming a truly kind person is the life work of a Christ filled journey.
Teaching our children to be kind is an important part of raising them to be Christ in our world. This particular work of motherhood is, like most of motherhood, a long term, ongoing task. Teaching kindness is a series of small acts, large acts, inconveniences, and reminders. The good news is, children are beautifully suited to learn kindness. They crave it, believe in it, and, when young and innocent, drink it in joyfully and naturally.
But we all know that children can easily forget the teaching we give, no matter how consistent or diligent we are. Mean words, inappropriate use of hands or feet, excluding other children from play or snatching toys are all part of typical childhood behavior. Dealing with these is one of the most challenging parts of raising children.
You can make teaching kindness to your children such an integral part of your family life that it becomes an ingrained habit for all of you. All it really takes is deciding that you want to have a kind heart, a kind home, and kind children. A kind approach to your children and the people around you creates an atmosphere of peace and strength that is much greater than when you take an approach learned from an armed forces manual.
Here are a few ideas (AND ONE GREAT PHRASE) that may help you create a strong and kind environment for your home. I hope that these give you some new ways to have a Harbor Home for your family.
Use kind and respectful words when speaking to your child. Absolutely nothing can replace the impact of your example. Children learn from you more than from any other person ever. It is possible to speak to your children with respect and kindness and still be firm and in charge. You don't have to bite their heads off for each misstep or infraction. Make it a habit to be calm, sensible, kind, and respectful when speaking to your children. They will then have an example to follow.
Interrupt rude words. If you are to have a home where kindness is the rule and not the exception, then you must establish what that will look like. I suggest that you start with words. The words that we speak tell the entire world what exists in our spirits. (Luke 6:45). When my children were young I taught them this modified version of an old proverb: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will break my heart." Words matter. Maybe more than anything else in a Harbor Home. Insist that your children use kind words to one another, to you, and to their friends. Interrupt those unkind words by positively stating what your expectation is.
Create an identity of kindness within the family. There is one great phrase you can use with your children to help them understand what atmosphere your expect in your home. That phrase is: "In our family, we..." and then you fill in the blank. You might say, "In our family we use kind words." Or "In our family we support and encourage one another." This is stating clearly the expectation you have while being positive. Focus on what you want rather than what you don't want. It works better.
Kindness takes far more strength than unkindness. A position of kindness is one of strength, courage, control, and confidence. Many people imagine that a stern, intractable posture that insists on its own way is one of power, That is the opposite of the truth. The strongest and most influential people are those who can stand strong in their principles without being snarky, rude, arrogant, or unpleasant. Kindness = strength.
This kind of strength in kindness begins with you. Set a strong and positive example of kindness by being kind to your children and to others. Go out of your way to do acts kindness to others. Encourage your children to join with you in offering gestures of kindness to those in your community that may need a little extra support. Let them use their creativity to show kindness to others.
Children can write cards, deliver sweets, and learn to congratulate others as well as offer condolences. You can invite them to take part in their community and family by making these gestures. This can easily become the habit of a lifetime that will make them happier and more connected as their lives continue. Kind people make the world a better place. Let your children have the joy that comes from being a positive and kind force in the world.