We’ve all heard the admonishment that we should lead by example. The intent of that statement focuses on providing good examples for not only our own children and grandchildren, but also our neighbors’ children, school students, and all other young people with whom we come in contact. The final increment of this Focus on Caring series suggests that adopting an attitude of caring is best started at an earlier age.
If we live in such a way that our words and actions positively influence the younger set among us, we are to be rewarded. But if our actions negatively influence children, we’ve done them – and the world – a grave disservice.
The article attached above from the Kindness Blog – a website that ONLY provides stories that focus on kindness – lists seven suggestions for effectuating kindness in children.
My article focuses on two of the article’s very apt suggestions:
Be aware of your actions
As I stated at the beginning of this article, good or bad, your actions are making an impact on children. The Kindness Blog article points out that the bad habits our children pick up are oftentimes not noticeable by the adult because he sees them every day. And let’s face it, if the behavior the child exhibits is something the adult also exhibits, he’s not going to see anything wrong with it anyway.
When a three-year old child says the “F word” and/or gives someone the middle finger, they don’t know what they’re saying, they probably don’t even use that expression out of anger; they simply heard an adult say and do the deed often enough, that they followed the role model with whom he had most contact.
Reward their kindness
Oftentimes adults are very quick to point out when a child does or says something wrong, so much so that children may get the feeling they can’t do anything right.
I think adults need to strike a healthy balance between admonishment and reward.
I’m not a child psychologist, nor am I a behavioral psychologist, but this I do know: children like to please adults and will behave in such a way to do so. Think of these seemingly mundane activities for which an adult has an opportunity to reward or compliment a child:
- a child stops on the sidewalk, picks up a piece of trash (not his own) and tosses it into a garbage receptacle;
- walking with another adult who passes by a begger on the corner, a child stops, turns around and says, “Hi. I hope you have a good day today.”
- or maybe that same child reaches into her pocket, pulls out some change and drops it into the begger’s cup;
- exiting a grocery store with her mother, a child sees an elderly person struggling with her canvas bag of groceries; the child introduces herself and offers to carry the woman’s grocery bag to her car.
If those types of behavior by a child aren’t rewarded, he or she may get out of the habit of doing similar acts in the future.
Now, wouldn’t that be a shame?
Additionally: Good citizenship starts young