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Illuminate kindness for your children

Author Philippa Murphy

Illuminate kindness for your children
Empathy, love, understanding, being inclusive, empowerment, sharing, compassion, accepting and generosity. Just some of the emotions and actions we can relate to kindness, one of the most transforming riches that everyone has at their fingertips. One small drop can ripple out with life changing effects that we may never hear or see. It can touch someone to the core in an instant, uplift all that are involved, while holding so much magic and beauty. It’s all of this, plus the immense kindness I have been afforded in life, that propels me to teach this wealth of wisdom to our children for their social and emotional development, and home is a great place to start.

Four facets that promote kindness

  • Role modelling – our children learn so much from watching adult values, attitudes and behaviours so be kind wherever you can and highlight that act by talking about the kindness
  • Create rituals that illuminate kindness – these can be as basic or in-depth as you like. For example, it may be that you teach your children manners and again highlight the act as being kind. Alternatively it may be that you light a candle at dinner and spend a few moments talking about the kindness you received in your day.
  • Work with your child’s strengths – be led by what enthuses your child, whether it be showing kindness to their coach, teacher, or grandparent. Perhaps it’s a random act of community kindness.
  • Praise, praise, praise - by praising the acts of kindness your child does you will steadily build that as one of their attributes.

A kindness activity for your home

Testing of the boundaries is a part of our children’s development, and sometimes this will bring out-of-control developmental tantrums which can spiral into a stressful and exhausting environment for all. I know, because that’s what made me try this transforming activity with my son when he was three. It worked wonders! 

Materials required
Large Jars – one for every family member
Fuzzy Balls
Reward – optional

Write out your family’s names and the words, ‘Is it Kind?’ on separate pieces of paper and place these onto the jars. These will be the words that you use when your child does something that isn’t kind e.g. hurts someone or something, doesn’t listen, screams, etc.

When they do something that is kind, or they change their behaviour after you have asked them ‘Is It Kind?’ they get to put a ‘warm fuzzy’ into the jar. When you do something kind, especially for them, you get to put a warm fuzzy in your jar. This can be for basic things like putting on your child’s shoes, making their breakfast, taking them to preschool. Doing this helps your child to see the kindness in his everyday life that you as parents give, which begins to create a foundation of appreciation.

When your child keeps doing something that is unkind use the words, ‘I will take a warm fuzzy out of your jar because your behaviour is not kind.’ My son’s reaction to this was immediate with ‘no don’t’ and he changed his behaviour. In the situations when the behaviour takes a while to change, don’t give a fuzzy ball. Instead when you see your child do the opposite behaviour that took a while the first time to change, be very quick to reward them exuberantly with a warm fuzzy, while recounting the change from earlier behaviour. 
Draw a line on the jar and let your child know this is where they are aiming to get to – make the first one really easy to reach, making them bigger as your child understands the game. On reaching the line, you might like to offer your child a physical reward, or alternatively enthusiastically praise, praise, praise them, while sharing their achievement with everyone they know.
Being consistent and taking every opportunity to accentuate the kind acts that your child, children and you do is important. This consistency of reward and positive reaction from you will boost your child’s pleasure in simple acts while teaching them their boundaries and your expectations in a positive way.
One of the best things about the Warm Fuzzy Jar is your children get to see where you, as parents are kind to them. This illumination of kindness can be a breath of fresh air for all. You can use it to help your child eat their dinner, pitching it as being kind to their body, or perhaps teaching them to get themselves dressed, letting them know that self-care is kind. However you use it, I hope it shows fantastic results and builds harmony within your home.
Last Updated: 13 November 2018