Order Soon for Christmas Delivery!🎄 ➔

 
 
Being kind to others seems to be going the way of the dodo bird. I am appalled by the nasty comments I see floating around Twitter and Facebook. The shaming and the bullying. The judging and the hate. Social media has given an outlet for people to voice their deepest, darkest, meanest, most critical thoughts and people seem to be leaping aboard the nasty train in droves.
 
But I also see stories that give me hope that the world is not lost. Stories of love, acceptance and random acts of kindness. It is these stories that I want to share with my kids. To teach them that being kind has a huge impact on their own lives as well as the world around them.
 
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that kids need to be taught empathy. Spend one minute in a room with two toddlers and only one Thomas the Tank engine, or spend one recess outside at an elementary school and you will quickly discover that this is true. 
 
So why are we not spending the time teaching our kids how to be kind?
 
We can sit back and blame it on being too busy. Trying to keep up with family, work, school, homework, extra curricular activities and social obligations in a day where 24 hours just isn’t long enough. Or we can blame it on the ever-growing pressure to focus on giving our kids the competitive edge. Or we can blame it on social media, technology and world events.
 
Rather than blaming, however, we can look inward and see what we can do to initiate change. And it starts with how we parent.
 
To address teaching empathy, The Graduate School of Education at Harvard University and psychologist, Richard Weissbourd, initiated a project called, Making Caring Common. In 2013, they conducted a survey of 10,000 middle and high school students. What they discovered is that almost 80% of kids rated personal success and happiness as their main priority, while only 20% rated caring for others as a top priority. Those results are sobering. And a wake-up call that changes need to be made or we will end up with a society of narcissistic, self-serving buffoons.

They came up with the following 5 strategies to teach kids how to be kind.

  1. “Make caring for others a priority” – As a mother of three kids, I hear myself ask on pretty much a daily basis “How would you feel if…?” But it is not enough to ask the question. I want my kids to understand and internalize how their actions affect others. How their words and deeds can be used to either heal or hurt.
  2. “Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude” – Caring about others beyond ourselves not only makes the world a better place, but research shows that it also makes us happier, healthier and more successful. Practicing gratefulness and counting our blessings reduces anxiety, strengthens relationships, and fosters hope. So why not teach it to our kids? 
  3. “Expand your child’s circle of concern” – There is life outside of our homes, our communities, our cities, our countries. There are people outside of our families and friends. Help our kids to see others, recognize their value and include them within their world. Playing with the new kid at school, asking the grocery clerk how her day is going, saying thank you to the waiter at dinner.
  4. “Be a strong moral role model and mentor” – Actions speak louder than words. But words matter too. How we talk with our kids and interact with them has a direct impact on how they will treat others. As parents, we need to pay attention to the messages we are sending our kids. When we get cutoff in traffic, when we’re running late, when the barista gets our coffee order wrong. And when we screw-up, which let’s face it, we all do, we need to acknowledge our mistakes and apologize.
  5. “Guide children in managing destructive feelings” – We’ve all been there. The flailing, the screaming, the sudden melting away of bones resulting in a puddle of enraged toddler on the floor. However, temper tantrums and angry outbursts serve a purpose. Not only do they provide an emotional outlet for our children, they also provide us with the opportunity to teach proper coping skills, such as deep breathing and finger counting. These strategies will help them understand and manage their feelings which in turn will increase their ability to be empathetic. 

Yes, it takes a lot of time and effort to raise kind, caring, socially responsible kids. But in the end, isn’t it worth it? 

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Heidi Hamm

Heidi Hamm is a writer, wife and mom of twin boys who are nothing alike, and their older sister, who won’t admit that she really does like 80s music. She loves bookstores, Starbucks and peanut butter. You can find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/heidihammwriter/

Don’t Fear the Gap

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Baby lying on mother's chest, black-and-white photo

I was afraid of the gap. You know, the one where you have some kids and then wait several years to have another? That gap. When we moved here, we kept all the baby things because we weren’t ready to say we were done but weren’t ready to start over. Moving to the farm brought wayyy more chores than our neighborhood home and adding a tiny human to that mix felt a bit crazy. RELATED: I’ll Always Want Another Baby There were months of back and forth . . . talk of barefoot baby feet stomping all over this place...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, If Something Feels Off, It Probably Is—Trust Your Intuition

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter black and white photo

A few weeks ago, my 7-year-old daughter was playing at a friend’s house when she messaged me on her game tablet to come pick her up. I didn’t ask why I just went to get her. I asked her once she was home how it was, and she told me she had a weird feeling and she was just “trusting her guts,” which I loved hearing her say. Apparently, her friend had a bunch of extended family show up at the house that we were unaware of. She is extremely outgoing, friendly, and confident so she thought nothing of listening...

Keep Reading

10 Lessons I Hope You Learn Playing Youth Sports

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boy dribbling down basketball court, black-and-white photo

Last night was my sixth grader’s last basketball game of the season. He played with many of the same gang of boyhood friends he has known since kindergarten. This year, however, they were introduced to a traveling team, older players, and much stiffer competition than they had encountered in the past. They stood the test and played their little boy hearts out. I am proud of my son, his team, his coaches, and all the familiar faces we came to know in the Greenwood Laboratory School cheering section each week, sometimes two to three times in one week!  Here’s to...

Keep Reading

I Love You At Every Stage

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three children at park, color photo

Confession: I love the 1-year-old phase. Our youngest is one and such a joy to be around. He’s still so cuddly, finds such joy in the smallest things, is learning new things every day, and smiles at every little thing his big brother and sister do. I love the 3-year-old phase. Our only girl is three. She has a flair for the dramatic, but she is very forthright with her feelings. “I’m having a hard time.” “I just miss my daddy when he’s at the Fire House.” “I’m a princess.” “God made me beautiful.” She is quick to be a...

Keep Reading

Simple Moments Shape Childhood

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy in shallow water of beach

Sometimes it’s the little things that can turn out to be the biggest things. Motherhood has made me appreciate the everyday moments, the simple moments, differently.  Being outdoors with my boys can be simple in theory, but I absolutely love the adventures we take. Whether we are hiking, biking, swimming, exploring, or checking out a new park, this momma knows it is time well spent.  RELATED: I’m Watching You Grow Up in the Little Moments Because whether they realize it or not, these memories being made are the special ones. The ones my boys will carry with them in their...

Keep Reading

I Promise to Show Up for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in garden

My child, I hope you know you can count on this: I will show up for you. I will show up when you wake in the middle of the night, when you get up too early or stay up too late. I will be there to make your meals, read you a story, and tuck you into bed. I will show up when you are sick—taking time off work, bringing you to the doctor, cleaning up your throw-up, and sitting up with you. I will show up at every game, sitting in the stands or a camp chair, freezing or...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Growth Is Tangible, and When It Is You Hold On Tight

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom putting bike helmet on child

I never expected my sign to come in the form of a plastic bag. As a parent, you’re told over and over how fast it all goes, to cherish these times because they’re gone in a blink. You see the gradual changes in your kids as they move through milestones. One day, they can hold their own spoon. They begin stringing words into sentences. Their ages are counted in years and no longer months. You watch these things happen every day, but I didn’t realize some transitions would come in tangible ways, like a grocery bag filled with wet swim...

Keep Reading

Some Nights They Need You a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sleeping, color photo

Some nights they need you a little more, mama. Because of the bad dreams or the bogeyman they are adamant is under the bed. Because firefighter daddy’s schedule leaves him missing goodnight tuck-ins and bedtime stories several times a week, sometimes leaving them a little needier and more emotional. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. RELATED: I’ll Lay With You As Long As You Need, My Child Because they are sick. Because they feel safe in your presence. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (okay, hardly ever)...

Keep Reading

Sweet Babies, I’ll Be There

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two children lying in bed, color photo

When your world is calm and peaceful, I’ll be there. When your world is chaotic like an ice cream shop on the hottest day of summer, I’ll be there. When you need a Band-Aid applied and a boo-boo kissed, I’ll be there. When you want to perform in your Frozen microphone like you’re performing for a crowd of 20,000 people, I’ll be there. When you feel lost and alone, I’ll be there. When you feel you have nowhere to go, I’ll be there. RELATED: I Will Always Be There When You Need Me, My Son When you need a pep...

Keep Reading

I’m in the Big Little Years

In: Kids, Motherhood
black and white photo of little boy and little girl standing in a window together

I’m in the big little years. It’s when you’re no longer in the tender season of babies and toddlers—those sweet, smothering, exhausting years of being constantly touched and needed . . . . . . but you’re not yet in the big kid years—navigating boyfriends and driver’s licenses and bracing your heart for the impending ache of an empty nest. I’m somewhere in between. I’m in the years of having littles that aren’t so little anymore, but still need you for so much. They have big feelings. Big ideas. Big dreams. But they have mostly little problems (even though they...

Keep Reading