5 ways in 5 weeks to teach your child how to be kind in a world that’s built for bullies.
Across the country, our school systems are trying their very best to fight the flood of bullying; yet it only takes a glimpse at the media outlets and the news to see the growing tide of adults who are supposed to be setting the example, behave badly.
At our martial arts schools, we have created a ‘character course’ to promote a lifetime of good behavior and confidence. Becoming a bully can begin at any age. Let’s start addressing it beyond the playground.
Here are 5 ways in 5 weeks that you can teach your child to practice kindness:
Week 1: Words
“One kind word can change someone’s entire day”
Have your child pick one person a day they want to compliment or say something nice to. Older children can use a notebook and write them down. At the end of the day, ask what the recipient’s response was. It is important to have them realize the affect their kind words had on that person to reinforce the positive behavior. They can even note the response next to the name.
Week 2: Actions
“You will never have a bad day if you show kindness at least once” Greg Henry Quinn
The second week is much like the first. Based on your child’s age, challenge them to do something nice for someone. Whether it be helping a friend carry books, hold open a door or simply pat someone on the back who needs it, let them experience how even small gestures can make a big difference. Ask them not only the response but how it made them feel. Did their day get a bit brighter?
“Let’s teach kids how to be kind and generous without reward” Click to Tweet
Week 3: Selflessness
“Do things for people. Not because who they are or for what they may do in return, but because of who you are”
In a tit for tat world, this is hard even for adults. Sometimes, you will help a friend and just when you need some in return, they are unavailable. Look back at the last two weeks with your child. Of those they showed kindness in words and actions to, was it always reciprocated? Chances are they will have some ‘no’s’ but was there a ‘return’? Emphasize how the action or word changed their own day or mood and the benefits they receive by being nice without expectations.
Week 4: Unconditional Kindness
“Kindness is caring for others, even if they may not care for you”
This is where it can get tough, even for adults. Time to bring out the notebook and have your child write down the name of a person they may not always see ‘eye to eye’ with. Is it a ‘mean kid’ at school? A friend who did something they did not like and aren’t talking to? A teacher that is not their favorite? It is easy to be kind to people we get along with but that is not the world we live in. Sometimes ‘difficult’ people are the ones that need to experience kindness the most. Challenge your child to say or do something kind; it does not have to be big (we want them to feel comfortable). By the end of this exercise, your child may find that those they did not ‘like’, suddenly became their friends…a bridge of kindness simply needed to be built.
Kindness should be shown without prejudice Click to tweet
Week 5: “Kindness, Confidence and Communication”
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love” Lao-Tzu
This week provides the opportunity to review the last four. I often have a surprise party or take my students out for ice cream for this discussion. Not only do we review how each of them has changed in confidence and communication, but my action of treating them ‘just because’ exemplifies how kindness is contagious. As you give to the world, the world will give back to you.
Breaking thru with you! Stefanie Alberts ‘The Karate Kulture’ firstname.lastname@example.org