A question I asked myself when my kids were 2 and 4 and continue to ask myself today. Are they sharing their toys? Are they giving heartfelt hugs to their grandparents? The list goes on; and I am sure most of you parents can relate.
At some point, I decided to check in with myself on why it mattered so much - why am I expecting so much kindness? Is it a social aspiration of wanting them to be seen as kind children? Or am I trying to fulfil a desire that I was carrying from my own childhood? Then it came to my realisation after hours of not-so-laidback reflecting sessions, I found that I just honestly and genuinely admire ‘kindness’ and all it encompasses!. I love the acts, emotions and meaning behind kindness, especially when it’s done mindfully and without expectations.
Everyone has a different outlook on what kindness is;
So what is kindness, really?
According to Psychology Today, Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Another one of my personal favorites, said by a teacher from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, Canada, is, I have your back whether I know you or not.
My love for kindness inspired me to write my first book: “Blossoming Kindness". With a wholehearted belief that every human being has the capacity to use their hearts, thoughts and hands to make the world a kinder place. So here are some kind suggestions to cultivate this interpersonal skill of kindness:
1. Always Start with YOU - `Kindness to Oneself’
Kindness starts from within and radiates outward into the world. Start by checking in with yourself first. Ask questions like: Am I speaking kindly to myself? Am I feeding my body nutritious food? Did I forgive myself for forgetting to pack my child’s swim bag? Be honest and intimate with your own questions and take your time to find the authentic answer without judging yourself. This way, you will get an idea of where and how you can start being kind to yourself before passing the torch of kindness onwards.
The journey to kindness towards oneself can begin with: going for a walk on the beach; taking up meditation; learning a new skill; and eating raw fruits and vegetables.
2. Consciously be your child’s role model
You – yes you – are the greatest role model in your child’s life. They have their teachers, mentors and favourite fictional characters but they mirror your behaviour on a sub-conscious level. Children are more observant and likely to imitate what they see at home and school, so let’s give them something worth imitating: kindness!
3. Mindfully get them involved in acts of kindness
I lovingly advice you to let them make their own choices when it comes to kindness activities. Be present with them, to engage and help them reflect on those choices. Here are a few simple ideas to integrate kindness:
Put in a mindful effort to make the kindness activities enjoyable for yourself and for them. And remember that, “What we learn with pleasure, we never forget” – Alfred Mercier.
Have a kind day!