I don’t know about your kids, but mine sometimes struggle with kindness. I’d like to think it’s just a phase, but that doesn’t mean we just let it go on! Teaching kindness will always be more important than any worksheet I ever post on here.
So when my kids start fighting more, sharing less, and just generally having a really unkind streak…I buckle down. I try to have a zero tolerance policy on unkindness. Problem is, I don’t think I ever realized when I was a kid how HARD it can be as a parent to recognize who started it, who had which toy first, etc. I don’t want to be unfair either! So that can be rough. But as we’ve struggled through, I’ve realized that there are five patterns that have helped us, despite the inevitable struggles.
So here are the five ways we promote kindness, followed by a FREE printable!
- SHOWING GRATITUDE
I think at the root of kindness and selflessness is gratitude, so our Kindness Journal focuses on being grateful EVERY day. The more grateful we are for what we have, the easier it is to share! I’ve also noticed that, in our home, if we aren’t expressing gratitude we tend to think inward instead of outward. The kids become more selfish and fight more often when they don’t start the day with some gratitude.
We start our days with a family prayer to thank Heavenly Father for the things he gives us, but we also try to express gratitude throughout the day: “Thank you for helping me with that!”, “I’m grateful for the toys we have.”, or “Isn’t it such a beautiful day? I’m glad it is so we can play outside!”
- SHOWING EXAMPLES
I believe our greatest example of kindness is Jesus Christ, but kindness can be found across religions and cultures as well. We read scripture and other stories about kindness, as well as try to show our own best examples (which, like all of us, is better some days than others). If we don’t set the example though, there isn’t any reason to expect kindness from our kids. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, SHOW always works better than TELL!
- CONSISTENTLY EXPECTING KINDNESS
Like I said earlier, we have a zero tolerance policy on unkindness. Sure, sometimes the kids disagree and need to work it out amongst themselves. We don’t like to helicopter parent. But hitting and name-calling are on the unacceptable list.
I’ve also started asking my oldest when he comes home from school, “What did you do that was kind?” or “What was the nicest thing you saw someone do?” instead of “What did you learn?” Does he always have an answer? No. But it sets the expectation and priority of kindness over achievement.
- SERVING OTHERS
Our kids are expected to work when I’m working, for the most part. If I’m making dinner, they’re setting the table. If I’m folding laundry, they are too. This helps them understand that they are expected to help and contribute.
Recently though I’m starting to look for service opportunities outside of our family. Seeing how happy service makes other people helps kids feel good about it, and want to do it more often. Again, it’s about setting kindness as the expectation and priority.
This week, our service goal is to spend some time at my grandma’s (their great-grandma’s) weeding and helping with her yard. It’s kid-friendly and helps someone they know well (we’ve been going there once a week since they were very little) so I’m hoping it will really help them see how their service helps.
- PRAISING WHAT WE SEE
My kids focus best on being kind to each other when I point out when it happens. There’s nothing like positive reinforcement to promote good behavior! When my youngest son gives his sister kisses and I tell him how nice that was, he tends to do it again and smile like a goofball. When my middle son tells someone they’re the best, and I give him a hug for being awesome, he goes around finding something nice to say about everyone.
Kids, just like the rest of us, like to be told when they’re doing a good job! They like to be recognized for their efforts! And the more we can “catch them being good” (I’ve seen some fun charts on this vein), the more they WANT to be caught being good.
Worksheets are sort of our thing (I know, shocking) because my two oldest are like me and learn really well from reading/writing/drawing. So to help make the kindness concept stick, I’ve made this kindness journal!
So far it’s four pages with a cover (lots of ink and less ink versions!) but I will probably add to it later on. For right now though, the four pages can be printed out multiple times so that every four days, they’re focusing on another aspect of kindness! And, of course, every day we focus on gratitude, because we’re kinder when we’re grateful!
I would bind ours, but a friend is borrowing our binding machine. Darn. I’ll show you the bound result on Instagram soon though!
Feel free to share your kindness for kids tips in the comments. I’d love to hear how your family promotes kindness and gratitude!
I hope you have a great week and it’s FULL of kindness!