Kindness is my mothering goal, in growing these little hearts, but in the day to day, sometimes I need more than the mile-long parenting articles and perfectly scripted charts. In this season of parenting, I am always looking for that balance between harsh and permissive, where my children’s hearts can grow strong but gentle, confident but kind.
After wading through for a while, and then treading water for a while, I ended up with a concrete, practical list of small ways to grow their hearts with kindness. You don’t need a 500-page parenting book for this, you won’t find yourself spending 20 minutes giving your 3 year old “choices” about whether or not he wants to take a bath, you won’t be suffocated with all the extra words of someone who doesn’t know your children or your life.
First of all, let’s get something straight: I’m using the word “easy” loosely here. 😉 Nothing is actually easy while parenting little ones, and no matter how relaxed I seem as a mother, there are many days that challenge me.
But maybe you’ll find yourself yelling a little less, smiling a little more, and most importantly, being able to enjoy more of these motherhood moments with the tiny humans you love.
Every day, for each child, I do something extra. And by extra, I don’t mean throw a party. Grab them the water they forgot, pack their favorite snack, make a bag of pre-mixed cookies. Do something that is not the norm, that means a lot to your kids. You probably are already doing this because, let’s face it, that’s part of mothering. 😉
The trick for me was doing it cheerfully, and letting my child know I was “happy to help them.” There’s your script, if you need one. haha
“I’m happy to do it for you. I’m happy to help you.” Some days, my instinct is to let them know JUST HOW AWESOME I AM for doing all the things and YOU BETTER APPRECIATE IT, DARN IT!! 😛 Which obviously defeats the whole purpose of modelling kindness.
The point is to show that kindness brings joy.
My parenting sometimes gets dragged down by the negative. “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” It doesn’t take too many days before I see negative results of negative speech. Instead, speak the good that they do, every time.
I saw you being kind.
That was kind of you to help her.
It was kind of you to share your snack.
What would be the kind choice here?
Whenever I make the effort to commit to this habit, I see results in their own speech and treatment of others. It seems obvious, to acknowledge the good that we want to see repeated. Yet it is a habit I still often struggle to be consistent about.
When I acknowledge their kindness, it goes from abstract to concrete. They now have an example in their mind of what is kind, and more importantly, how to repeat that kindness in future.
In our family, manners and kindness go hand in hand. Please, thank you, holding the door, making eye contact, smiling with a greeting, using the person’s name when speaking – these are all habits I try to keep in myself and develop in my children.
Meals/food are one very concrete way to reinforce manners and kindness, and with little ones, it’s such a natural time for it. “Please pass the milk.” “Thank you for dinner, Mom.” “Mikey set the table for us tonight, that was kind of him!” Etc.
Age doesn’t matter to manners – manners are a form of respect, and respect is just one more way we show kindness to another person.
None of these are mind-blowing, and I have no free printable to go along with them, but these work. They are easy to do in the middle of a busy day, even with toddlers yelling and responsibilities calling. <3
Little things, great love each day. Because acts of kindness in these early years will be forever imprinted on their hearts. Because they learn kindness first at home, and from home, will carry it out into the world.
What’s something you do to encourage kindness in your home?