Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ways To Nurture Kindness At Home

Teaching kindness at home doesn't always work the same way it does at preschool. At home there's no professional trained in childhood development whose sole job it is to guide and teach. There's only you, whose heart is in the right place but who also needs to do laundry, run errands, vacuum, make dinner.

Still, raising kind kids ranks high as a goal for all of us. We asked eminent pediatrician, author, and grandfather of six T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., for a few simple ways we can nurture kindness at home.

1. Let your child help you. "When you let your child do things for you — set the table, sort the laundry, cover you with a blanket when you're chilly — you give him the feeling of "Hey, you're important, we wouldn't make it without you,' " says Dr. Brazelton.

2. Let your child choose to be kind. "My daughter used to ask her son, "Would you like to see if you can help your baby sister feel better, and I'll be there in a minute?' If he said he didn't want to, she'd drop it. Later, not always but usually, he'd be off trying to help his baby sister because now it was his idea. You can't force a child to be kind — if you do, you're teaching dominance, not kindness."

3. Let him own his acts of kindness. "At a playground in France, I watched a 1-year-old trying to get up the nerve to go down a slide. His 2-year-old friend came along, grabbed him, and took him down the slide in his lap. They smiled at each other and walked away. The 2-year-old's mother told him that was lovely, then went back to her reading. She didn't make a big deal of it. She just gently reinforced to her child that he'd done a kind thing, but not so much that it took away from the naturalness of the moment."

4. Say you're sorry. "Teaching kindness is not just about the times when everything is sweetness and light. It's also about times that aren't. When you've done something wrong — snapped or gotten impatient or yelled — you have the chance to turn it around and apologize. Think what it means to your child when you say, "I'm sorry. I didn't do that right. How do you feel?' It shows respect and humility, and that kindness really does help."


1 Comment:

Meredith said...

Your blog popped up on my google alerts as you used the words "sweetness and light" in your last paragraph of this lovely post on kindness, thank you for you thoughts. I'd love for you to visit me too at
Have a great day yourself and you definately are a hip mama ;-)