Teaching Kindness

Children go to school and learn how to write. They memorize math facts and study about America’s history. As the student becomes older, the studies continue to evolve into more difficult subjects. Hopefully, by the time a young person graduates from high school, they are a well-rounded human being who knows all sorts of information on many different subjects. But what else does a child learn when she goes to school? What else should be taught besides math and history and grammar?

I read an article in Instructor magazine the other day about teaching kindness and empathy in the classroom. The author explains that children must be taught empathy because it isn’t something that is inherently understood.

Now I don’t know if I’m the only mother out there that does this (surely not, right?), but I often think way into the future and consider different situations that may occur. I think about Little Miss running on the play ground with her friends. I think about sleepovers with giggling girls. I think about her going to the movies by herself and wearing make-up for the first time.

But I also think about things that may happen to Little Miss to make her sad or hurt her feelings. Why do I waste my time considering such things, you ask. Well, like I mentioned, I hope that I’m not the only one that does it! I hope that it’s normal for a mother to wonder about these types of issues. And I will say that I don’t sit around all day long wondering when Little is going to get her feelings hurt for the first time. Luckily, I’m not that pathetic! 🙂

When I was in first grade a group of girls were down right mean to me on the play ground. I remember it quite vividly to this day. The thing that I didn’t understand then (and still don’t understand today) is why these girls were so hateful to me.

I was reminded of this situation last weekend when my sister and I brought Little to the park. It was a beautiful day and we wanted to take full advantage of the warm weather knowing that it was just a fluke. It was the end of January, after all! Anyway, as Little played, I witnessed a group of boys snub another young boy. The mamma in me wanted to run to the child’s rescue and give the group a piece of my mind.

Why do kids have to be so mean? Why can’t kindness and compassion be natural for everyone? Because according to the article I read, it has to be taught! And guess what? Parents–not teachers–are responsible for setting the foundation for a compassionate person. I’m excited to hear that empathy is being explored in the classroom though. The article listed many great ideas on how to get a child thinking about others and how they may feel in a situation.

The most important thing for me is that Little Miss grows up to have a kind and tender heart. We will always remind her to treat others the way that she wants to be treated. I never want her to be the girl on the playground that is taunting another child. I think that would actually hurt me more than to see Little with her feelings hurt.

What are your opinions on teaching kindness? How have you taught your own child to be kind and empathetic? I’d love to hear from you!

P.S. Mothers (and fathers) out there: Do you think about all of this stuff, or am I just crazy?

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