Kindness & Kids…

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Where does kindness start?

I think it starts with kids. After all, the kindest adults are often the ones who were the kindest children. Or, at the very least, who were taught the principles of kindness as a child.

As with most things, kindness is best learned from the beginning.

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Many parents are preoccupied with their children’s achievements, grades or happiness but how many place the same importance on whether their child is kind? If they had to choose between the attribute or the accomplishment, which would prevail?

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One cold and snowy winter day when my son was attending university, he noticed an elderly woman struggling to get to the bus stop as the bus approached. He cried as he recounted how she would have been able to catch the bus if he had only flagged it down.

That was a proud moment as a parent… to see how it broke the heart of my child to know he had missed an opportunity to extend kindness to someone who had especially needed it.

“You will never have a completely bad day if you show kindness at least once.” Greg Henry Quinn

While I am extremely proud of my son and all that he has accomplished, I am proudest of who he is as a person. All the accomplishments in the world can’t make up for lack of character.

Cultivating kindness in our children is an investment that will always pay off.

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Need some ideas?

  • Make extending kindness toward others a priority for your child. Help them understand the importance of being kind to everyone, and hold them accountable.
  • Create opportunities for your child to show kindness. Have them participate in the regular care of a pet. If you don’t have a pet, consider adopting a fish or a hamster. Taking care of another living thing encourages kids to think outside of themselves.
  • Expand your child’s range of influence. Volunteer as a family. Fill a shoebox together at Christmastime for a needy child. Suggest your child make a card to cheer up a sick friend.
  • Be your child’s role model and mentor. Kids learn kindness by watching the example of adults they look up to. As a parent, you hold a position of particular influence. There are so many teachable moments in your child’s life… take advantage of them.
  • Read your child a story from the Bible about kindness, such as the one about the Good Samaritan. Ask thought provoking questions like, “If a mean kid got hurt, would you laugh and say, ‘It serves him right!’ or would you stop and help”? or “Has there ever been a time when you’ve avoided helping someone? What would you do differently next time?”

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It’s far easier to teach kindness to a child than it is to unteach unkindness to a teenager or to an adult.

The Bible says to train up a child in the way he should go and that when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Notice that it says ‘train up‘. Train up from a young age. Train up when your child doesn’t understand kindness. Train up when your child doesn’t feel like being kind.

The practice of extending kindness to others works to soften our hearts and change us, and the same is true for kids. You can’t routinely go out of your way to be kind to others, and not have it change you in fundamental ways. Even if you’re only going through the motions, the day will come when you realize that you do, in fact, genuinely care.

No matter what your age is, kindness matters.

I kid you not…

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No kindness…

 

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We’ve all come across unkind people… some of us more than others.

And, if we’re being honest, we can all remember times when we were less than kind ourselves. Most of us look back on that with regret, wishing we had said or done things differently.

But, what about the person who’s decided that it’s justifiable to be habitually unkind to a specific person or specific people? It’s a slippery slope when someone decides that someone else is not worthy of kindness, and sets out to make their life as miserable as possible. The longer they persist in unkind words and behaviors, the more they tend to justify what they’re doing.

The result?

No remorse and a deadened conscience. They don’t consider stopping because they don’t think they’re doing anything wrong.

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The news is increasingly filled with stories of people who have exacted unkindness towards others… often in the extreme. People so hate-filled that they decided the target(s) of their hatred deserved death, and that it was ultimately worth dying for themselves.

Hatred has never made anyone see things more clearly. Or changed situations for the better. Or changed lives for the better.

Not even once.

Sometimes you have no choice but to be in close proximity to someone who’s intent on extending unkindness or hatred towards you. It’s damaging, demoralizing and demeaning. And, the longer you have to deal with it, the more negatively it affects you.

Trust me, I know.

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Hear me in this… it’s no kindness to let people continue unchecked in their unkindness or hate.

Sometimes the greatness kindness we can extend is to intervene, if it’s within our power to do so. Whether we are able to intervene directly or indirectly, our kindness will be kindness toward the one(s) being targeted, and kindness toward the one doing the targeting… even if they can’t see it as being such in the moment.

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The one caveat is that, while unkind or hateful people need to be dealt with firmly, they don’t need unkindness and hatred lobbied back at them.

Don’t confuse kindness with weakness. Those who refuse to retaliate or to respond in kind demonstrate strength, not weakness. So, be that person… not just an extension of the behavior you didn’t find acceptable in the first place.

How?

It never hurts to start with prayer.

Prayer gives us the proper perspective – God’s perspective – and guides us in the right things to do and say.

Pray for yourself, pray for the hurting, pray for those who do the hurting, pray for change, and pray for healing.

It’s hard to hate someone that you pray for. In fact, try praying every day for a month for someone you hate… or simply don’t like… and see what happens.

Even if they don’t change, you will.

The moral of the story?

Act kind, not in kind

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Kindly consider…

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Kindness is something that’s not easy to define, yet somehow everyone knows when someone is being kind… or unkind.

As Christians, we’re called to do two things… love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbour as ourselves. According to the Bible, “There are no commands more important than these” (Mark 12:30-31 NCV).

Kindness is at the very heart of love, perhaps emphasized by the fact that there’s an actual word that ties the two together… loving-kindness.

The extent to which we are kind conveys the extent to which we love.

Being kind comes at a price. It requires going out of our way for someone else, and that will always cost our time, energy, or resources… sometimes all three.

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This past week, my husband and I went out of our way to do something we really didn’t want to do but something that we felt was important to do for someone close to us. Quite honestly, it didn’t feel the greatest… or even very comfortable. We don’t know if it made a difference, and we may never know. But regardless, it was the right thing to do. The kind thing to do.

The thing about kindness is that it’s what you do whether anyone notices or not. Whether it’s appreciated or not. Whether you’re given recognition for it or not. Because true kindness is never self-serving or self-important.

An act of kindness can be something as small as sending someone an encouraging note. Or helping someone carry their groceries. Or holding a door open for a senior. The options are limitless. We just need eyes to see opportunities because they’re literally all around us.

What’s the payoff?

Kind people are happier. People who focus on others are always much happier than people who focus on themselves.

The bottom line is that kindness is a necessary stop on the road to joy.

Seriously?

Yeah, kinda…

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