Today was International Womens’ Day and I started thinking about what it means to be a mother to a boy growing up in our changing world. How do we raise our boy to be kind, appreciative, understanding, loving and respectful towards women? But then it dawned on me, shouldn’t we be teaching him to apply these qualities to everyone, regardless of their gender? And, shouldn’t all parents be teaching their children these qualities?
If he was older I’d like to tell him that the world is full of variety and difference; Some people may believe in certain views that won’t match our own but this is OK, that’s humanity. We are all individual BUT it is how we react to our feelings and instincts that matter. We must learn how to speak kindly, even if you don’t agree with them, and remain respectful despite having an opposed view. These are essential life skills needed for adulthood baby. Everyone is on their own journey and you need to know that people are forever changing, growing and learning from experiences in life. It’s an adventure, one that should be handled with care and understanding regardless of who you are. You just have to be kind.
It was perfect timing then when one of my best friends sent me a link today about raising kind children. As a teacher, and now a parent, it resonated with me. According to the article, it seems more parents are more focused on their child’s achievements and their own child’s happiness at school rather than how they behave towards and care for others. I thought back to past parent meetings and I remembered hearing comments such as:
“Can they count to 100 yet?”
“What’s their handwriting like?”
“Do they know all their times tables?”
“Do they listen?”
“Will they pass the Eleven Plus?”
“Are they top of the class?”
But no parent has ever asked me…
“Is my child kind?”
“Can they work well in a group, team or in pairs?”
“How do they speak to their friends?”
Yes, of course, we want our children to do well at school but maybe we could teach our children kindness too. Like most things, children are not born knowing, we have to teach them.
My 3 Kindness Kickers
Be a mentor, teacher, role model – tell your children that being kind is more important. Show them,by addressing others respectfully, even when you are feeling tired or distracted.
Talk about acts of kindness – If you see something on TV, in a magazine or witness something out and about, share it with your little one and discuss it. What did they think? How could they do something similar?
Help your child manage their negative feelings – we all feel anger, shame, sadness and other negative thoughts/feelings. Children are not born knowing how to deal with these emotions. Why not use mindfulness and breathing techniques to help calm your child and then when they are more relaxed, talk through how they were feeling and why. Over time your child should begin to take these steps on their own.
Kindness is the fuel of the future so let’s hope our little ones head there with their bags full of it!