Kindness Never Goes Out of Style
I recall being taught to always follow the "golden rule" as a child. Treating others how I wanted to be treated has carried me a long way. I am a strong believer in helping others and being kind. There have certainly been times where I felt that my core morals have been tested. But I must always remain true to who I am. It seems like going back to the basics is needed so much in the current climate in the United States.
I often wonder what happened to that golden rule? Is it not a "thing" anymore? Do people even care? I especially think about this as I observe interactions with my students on a daily basis. Being a middle school teacher is tough! I deal with moods, hormonal changes, emotional changes, and a lack of impulse control; these things can wear you down! Teenagers have access to so much more than I did at their age- social media, cell phones, t.v. The constant over-saturation of flowy trends makes it so easy to forget about the basics. Morals, manners, empathy, and kindness.
Adults bear some of the responsibility for the lack of social skills, specifically kindness, exhibited in children. Today's children are saturated with opportunities to bully others via social media, for example. And they hear so much of what has happened in the most recent years as it relates to police brutality or differing political opinions. But as parents, it is our responsibility to have crucial conversations with our children about what is happening in their life. And most importantly, instill meaningful values in them that will be beneficial in their lives. Teach them to silence the noise of the outside world and remember what they are being taught at home.
Children were quickly ushered back into schools after being home for almost two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It's as if leaders expected them to pick right back up where they left off, not addressing the lack of socialization and consistency that school provides for so many children. Now here we are where behaviors at school are out of control in all school levels. Mostly because children lack social skills, conflict resolution, and do not have enough consequences. Social skills are only one piece of this puzzle, but I feel a lack of social skills contributes to the other aforementioned issues presenting their ugly heads.
Encouraging kindness in children is an important aspect of their growth and development. Children learn by example. When parents model kindness, empathy, and compassion in their daily interactions, children are more likely to follow suit. I often feel like a buffer, neutralizing so many situations that can quickly escalate if the wrong thing is said or if someone's feelings are hurt. Modeling expectations is key when dealing with children. So, as adults, we must set the example of how to be kind. Whether you are a teacher, parent, or both, reinforcing practices that promote basic decency will help in molding the children of tomorrow.
Praise kindness. When your child shows acts of kindness towards others, make sure to acknowledge and praise them. This will reinforce positive behavior and encourage them to continue to be kind. Also, talk about kindness to your children. Engage your child in conversations about what it means to be kind, why it is important, and how it can make a difference in other people's lives. Encourage them to think about ways they can show kindness to others.
Provide opportunities for kindness. Look for opportunities for your child to be kind, such as volunteering, helping a neighbor, or simply saying kind words to someone who needs it. Encourage them to join organizations that add value to their current and future life. Sports, clubs at school, or mentoring opportunities are great for cultivating character.
Furthermore, discuss the effects of unkindness. Talk with your child about how unkind behavior can make others feel and the impact it can have on their lives. This can help them understand the importance of treating others with kindness. This is so important, especially when teaching children how to navigate various social settings such as school or work.
Lastly, and most importantly, encourage empathy. Help your child develop empathy by encouraging them to think about how others may feel in different situations. This can help them understand the importance of treating others with kindness and respect. I try to remember the old saying, "people will never forget how you made them feel." And it's so true. Whether the memories are of negative or positive situations, certain feelings can leave a lasting imprint on individuals.
Kindness never goes out of style. We all experience situations with friends, family, or co-workers where we know that person needs a little grace. Teaching our children to be kind to others will greatly benefit them as they become adults.
Let me know your thoughts about this piece in the comments. Follow me on Instagram @kreativescience! Thanks for reading!