We often see stories in our newsfeed of families who open their hearts (and often wallets) to help others during the holiday season. We like and share their posts to help remind ourselves about the meaning of Christmas and thankfulness. Kindness, therefore, is sometimes grand, always recorded, and found outside of our daily lives.
But simply done, kindness is an everyday activity that kids notice and copy.
The best way to teach kindness to our children is to model it for them. This holiday season, we can be tempted to act on our anger, be impatient, or just plain feel we are entitled to having our way. But being mindful about our own levels of kindness as adults can have a lasting effect on our kids.
In the parking lot
Whether you have been driving in the parking lot for 10 seconds or five minutes, there is a certain pressure to claim parking spots and jump on top of those who snagged the spot that was yours. When demand for spaces is high, we honk, slam our hands, and yell (sometimes extremely unkind words) at perfect strangers. Our children see our frustration. Can we really ask them to take turns with toys when they watch us angrily fight over where we put our car?
Why not park away from the entrance or wave over another car to the open space?
In sample lines
Isn’t the best part of holidays the samples at stores like Costco and Fry’s? You get to learn about new products, give your kids something to munch on while you compare prices, and give yourself a few cheat calories. But then someone darts in front of you in line and snags the last one. Suddenly the attendant is telling you to wait another five minutes for a miniature cup of macaroni and cheese… and there goes our patience. Why do we have to wait? Aren’t people soooo rude?
But brushing off the little things and understanding that first, nothing in life is fair, and secondly, maybe the person in front of you needs it more than you do can create a lot more peace in your life. Your children notice your reactions. Why waste energy on life’s little annoyances when being kind has a bigger impact?
At the checkout
We have become a society that praises efficiency and speed. When asked to wait in a line of two people or ten, our collective blood pressures rises. Someone must be blamed, right? Is it the person in front of you with a dozen coupons or the cashier who can’t figure out her own register?
Treating people as people first is a great practice. Help out where you can (did the person in front of you drop a bunch of items on the floor?). Ask the cashier about her day (it’s likely few have). Let your children see that you are someone who sees humanity in everyone.
In the end, it’s the little random acts of kindness that matter. Our kids are watching.