By: Chrissy K. - StrongTots Founder
We were driving in the car a few weeks ago and came across roadwork, which required us to stop and wait for direction from a flagger. Once we were given the okay to drive on, I waived at the gentleman directing us as we passed by. My older toddler piped up from the backseat, "Mommy, do you you know that man?" "No," I responded. The next questions was, "Then why did you say hello to him?" This exchange opened an unexpected opportunity for a discussion on how a wave "hello" can also mean "thank you," and why it is important to share our appreciation when someone helps to keep us safe (in this instance it was keeping us safe on the road). I don't always remember to wave at every police officer or road worker we encounter, but I try, and this day I was reminded just how closely my children watch each and every action I make.
Most parents will tell you they want to raise their children to be kind, generous, and considerate of others; however, if you ask a parent how they go about teaching kindness you will likely be met with I'm not sure what we've done. How we teach kindness is a lot less clear to parents than why we teach it. Thinking about my own parenting choices, I can say that there is a consistent effort to reinforce the importance of saying please and thank you whether at home, at the grocery store check out, or saying goodbye to our teachers each day. We use stories to discuss the feelings of others and even take advantage of our family dog to help teach empathy and consideration for others. Like many areas of parenting, how do you know when you are doing enough or utilizing the right strategies to reach your goal?
When we first introduced the idea of teaching kindness we explored the developmental milestones that influence a child's ability to understand abstract concepts and the social skills directly linked with teaching friendship, sharing, and consideration. Now we want to peel back the layers and look a little closer at why as parents we see the value in leading a life full of generosity and consideration. How does what we know about parenting influence our personal choices when teaching our children about kindness? Where and how does one's personal parenting style have value in what we teach our children about kindness? And on the mind's of many parents, how do our own bias' influence how and what we teach our children about kindness?
Organizing the Kinder by the Child series has been humbling and inspiring. Writers, bloggers, and educators I admire have jumped at the opportunity to participate (without compensation) and opened their hearts and homes to share their stories. The chance to connect with other parents on this topic has reminded me of how wonderful it is to have others to lean on, and how important it is to be connected with and part of a village when raising children. I share the names of our first five contributors to provide a sense of the amazing community coming together around the topic of kindness. I am honored to help share their stories and my hope is you will enjoy the adventures along with us.
If you have any questions about the Kinder by the Child project or would like to nominate a contributor please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kinder by the Child Project
This unique series of personal stories will take a look at how we teach our children about kindness and why as parents we see the value in leading a life full of generosity and consideration.
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families and design ideas based on our adventures building a home from the ground up.