Had it up to HERE with being asked to do more stuff with your kids when your plate is already full?
But, still, you want to be better at getting kindness going at home.
Then, this is the spot for you.
Let’s take the night-time routine of reading with our kids and use it to infuse more kindness at home.
(But, “Wait!” you say. “Sheila, what if I am NOT reading at night because I am too tired?” It takes 10-15 minutes and if adding night-time reading will put you over the edge, then let’s find another way to help you. NO judgement from us. We get that families are busy!)
Let’s Start a Kindness Hunt
- When you are reading, look for how characters are kind or unkind to one another.
- Use the quieter moments of a bedtime story to provide an opportunity to talk about how a character is affected when someone is kind or unkind.
- At the same time, connect that character’s experience with one of your own. “I remember when I was in 3rd grade and I forgot my snack. My teacher gave me a special snack. That made my heart feel so good!”
A Kindness Hunt: Think of it as a “seek and find” game to finding kind and unkind behavior.
As your children get older and start reading more independently, continue the Kindness Hunt by encouraging them to mark as they read examples of how characters are kind or unkind (post-its are great for this). Take a few minutes at bedtime and talk about those examples that they found on their own.
“Really? Why would reading be important for teaching kindness?”
Using literature to talk about kind and unkind actions provides a great place to teach kids how one person’s behavior affects another. This is a key skill to have in a child’s compassion development. Reading with your children (1) creates a quiet space to respond to things that happen in the book and (2) reminds us of what may have happened to us in real life and gives us a chance to talk about it.
For example, this happened to us while reading with Little Brother during bedtime reading:
Little Brother: Oh, Mom, a kid made a nasty face at me at gymnastics just like here in Harry Potter!
Mom: How did you feel when you saw that?
Little Brother: I was sad and confused. I didn’t do anything to him! I promise!
Mom: So, what did you do?
Little Brother: I decided to ignore it. But, I can see how it would hurt someone’s feelings.
Mom: What do you do when someone says something mean?
Little Brother: That’s harder. ‘Cause he is like right in my face! (pause)
I try to ignore it, but it just hurts. And, it isn’t fair!
Mom: Do you think people say mean things to Harry in the book?
Little Brother: Yeah. Hey, let’s see how he handles it.
These conversations take place in a quiet, calm moment when kids are better equipped to reflect on how they are feeling. And, what they learn in these conversations will carry over into real life when they are in the head of the moment!
“But, what books should I read?”
It really seems like all books have great examples of characters being kind and unkind!
- For younger readers: We have experienced great success with the “Elephant and Piggie” series by Mo Willems.
- For books that focus heavy on kindness, check out the Children’s Book Gallery.
- A great book to start kindness momentum: Have You Filled a Bucket Today by Carol McCloud
Try reading to your kids and talking about how the character’s actions affect one another. Are you ready?
Still need a book idea? Then, I suggest one of my favorites: Being Frank
Want more insight on how literature can help teach kindness? Check out: Using Children’s Books to Teach Kindness