TEACH YOUR CHILDREN
If you want your child to be kind, they have to be taught. Children follow by example, and every single bad habit you do, they can see, and will most likely copy it as well. Your little mini-me is a sponge, soaking up everything you do, and copying you exactly. There is no parent who can be perfect, it’s impossible, but what you can do is try your best. I remember my own mother recalling a memory of my sister Debbie playing with some dolls. Debbie was holding two dolls, and then she started shaking one and yelled, “YOU DRIVE ME UP THE WALL!”. Yikes! Definitely something you do not want to yell at your child. What you say will be repeated, always remember that.
BE A ROLE MODEL
Show your child that you make mistakes, and can apologize for them. You need to practice what you preach. Don’t tell your children something, and then display the opposite behaviour. They will learn to distrust you, and realize that you don’t mean what you say. Follow through with what you say. Don’t threaten to take away their iPad if they don’t eat all their dinner, and then when they don’t eat all their dinner, let them keep their iPad. There has to be consequences to actions, so make sure you don’t make idle threats that you are not willing to follow through on. Your actions will have a huge influence on your child, show them what it means to love, be accepting, and how to encourage one another. Don’t be negative, or complain when things don’t go as planned. Don’t put others down. Show respect to everyone!
TEACH YOUR KIDS EMPATHY
Your kids will grow up with kindness if you help them understand that every single person has different battles they face at home. Not all homes are filled with love. Some are filled with abuse. Verbal, sexual, and domestic violence is a horrible reality. When children act up or bully others, there is always a reason they are acting that way.
My son Jakob was in daycare, and there was a kid there who was really mean to him and called him names all the time. He would come home, and complain to me about it, and would be really upset. I told him that every time the other boy called him names, instead of getting angry and hitting him (violence is never the answer), he should say to him, “thanks for letting me know!” and then just give him a big smile. Jakob rolled his eyes at me, but he said he would try. The name calling continued, and Jakob complained again a week later. This time I told him to say, “Thanks for letting me know, want to be friends?” Jakob gave me a horrified look, but I INSISTED that he try it. Two days later, I picked him up from daycare, and he got in the car, and practically shouted out, “GUESS WHAT!” I had no idea. This was the convo!
“Remember when you told me to say thanks for letting me know, and do you want to be friends?” Well, today he said yes! We are friends!” I have to say that that was one of my favorite days. Amazing! They stayed friends, and all was good at the daycare. A couple of years later, Jakob and I were watching a movie on TV, “The Bridge to Terabithia”. There was a girl in the story who was a bully, and was horrible to other kids. Jakob was furious at her during the movie. Suddenly, there was a scene that showed the bully at home, with her abusive father. Suddenly Jakob sat straight up on the couch, looked over at me, and yelled, “I GET IT! I GET IT!”
I paused the movie and asked him what he was talking about. He said, “Remember you told me that hurting people hurt others, and that there is always a reason why kids are mean? I GET IT!”
See? You can teach your child, and they will understand. Help them learn patience and understanding. There are so many kids out there struggling, they don’t need to be yelled at, they need love and understanding.
TEACH YOUR CHILD TO CARE ABOUT OTHERS
Caring about others is so important. You can teach your kids to reach out to someone who doesn’t talk much in class, or is sitting by themselves. Teach them to include everyone in their circle of friends, and not to disclude someone because of a disability, or because they are a different color or race. It’s important to teach your kids that we are all equal. There is no-one who is better than someone else.
HELP YOUR CHILD PROCESS THEIR EMOTIONS
Kids get angry. Kids get sad. Kids have emotional outbursts. Please don’t forget that children between the ages of seven to twelve cannot reason. Do you understand what that means? It means they cannot make decisions to do the right thing on their own, without your guidance. They can learn right from wrong, but when they are young, they will do what they want, and it will not prick their conscience. Children who are not taught how to handle their emotions will often misbehave by having a temper tantrum, or screaming, or throwing things. They haven’t learned how to deal with their anger and frustration. We need to allow our kids to have their feelings, and talk to them and ask what is wrong. We need to acknowledge they feel that way, and then give them a way to cope with what to do when they feel that way.
BE CONSISTENT WITH PRAISE AND ENCOURAGEMENT
Your child needs you to be their cheerleader. They are always going to look to you for support, and it’s your job to encourage them. A child who lives with, “you can do it, yay!” will excel. A child who lives with “You only got a B? You should have gotten an A” will grow up insecure, feeling that they are never good enough. What you say to your child can make them, or break them. Why would you be mean to someone who wants to grow up and be just like you?
TEACH YOUR CHILD RESPECT, AND MANNERS
It’s important that you show your child respect. If they don’t learn it from you, they will not learn it at all. We can learn to be courteous, no matter what the situation. Instead of yelling and cursing at the drive who cut you off, have empathy and say, “I guess that person is in a real hurry today, perhaps they are running late”. Practice showing empathy in situations instead of having an angry response. When someone steals your parking stall when you’ve been sitting there waiting, train yourself to be empathetic instead, and say something like, “oh dear, perhaps one of their kids is sick at home and they are rushing to buy some medicine.” Come up with any scenario that puts the offending person in a good light. That is empathy. That will teach your child far more than you swearing at them and cursing, and having a road rage incident.
OBEY POSTED SPEED LIMITS
Show respect for the law by not disobeying speed limits. Do not text while driving, it’s against the law. If you flout laws, your kids will too. How will they learn to respect authority if you never show it?
Show respect by being kind to people who don’t deserve it. Show respect by not dissing people even if they have a different political or religious point of view than you. We are all different, allow people to have their own ideas.
TEACH YOUR CHILD TO SAY PLEASE AND THANK YOU
Teach your children to say please and thank you. Teach them to open the door for others. Teach them to help someone in distress. Teach them charity by donating to a food bank, or perhaps buying lunch for a homeless person. Your children will learn more from you than a thousand books.
One thing I am really grateful for is that my hubby always says thank you to me for every meal I cook. He never forgets. His father used to thank his mother, and now he follows that same tradition, and thanks me. Because my hubby always said it to me, my son has learned to say thank you as well. I love it! It makes me happy! Some days I come home from work, and making dinner is the last thing I want to do. But when we are finished the meal, and both of them say thank you? It warms my heart, and makes me want to cook even more.
Being kind is taught, being kind is shown by example. Show your kids how to do it today!