In many religions, kind-heartedness is encouraged as a pathway to peace. Great spiritual teaches, such as the Dalai Lama, encourage practicing kindness as a way to lasting joy. He even goes as far as to say, ‘kindness is my religion.’
Being kind is scientifically proven to decrease stress and increase the body’s feel-good hormones. Being kind to others makes one feel good, and as a result, one is more likely to respond to the world in a positive, peaceful, and loving manner. There is no wonder that kindness is encouraged throughout religions. Random acts of kindness are even prescribed to cancer patients to heal from their disease, a powerful antidote for illness. Everyone, including children, benefits from kindness’s healing and uplifting powers.
Maria Montessori understood that ‘the child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.’ The future of our planet relies on our children to step forward with love, compassion, and kindness for all beings. If we want to see a change in our world, kindness education must be at the forefront of our minds. It is time to realign our educational focus to a values-based approach. Without values such as kindness, how do we expect our future generation to care not only about themselves and each other but about the precious earth that sustains us?
How to teach children to be kind-hearted?
Children learn predominantly through role modeling. Therefore, it is our duty and responsibility to first and foremost focus on our behavior and expression of kindness in the world. Remember that our capacity for kindness starts with the way we treat ourselves. We can only extend as much kindness as we can be kind to ourselves. So to role model kindness for our children, we need first to start being kind to ourselves.
5 ways to be kind to yourself
1. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. The past is in the past, and we cannot change it. We can only learn from it and make better choices going forward.
2. Take care of your body. Make time to do the exercise you love and feed yourself with wholesome, nutritious meals. Drink plenty of water.
3. Make self-care a priority. Take care of your needs first to give from a full cup. Find ways to relax and restore yourself.
4. Follow your passion. Align with what brings you joy and makes you feel alive. Honor your calling and make time to pursue the things you love.
5. Be mindful of your thoughts and self-talk. Have compassion for yourself and talk to yourself as you would to someone you love dearly.
Once one has a consistent practice of being kind to oneself, one can focus outwardly and look for ways to be kind to others. This overflowing of kind-heartedness will happen naturally once being kind to oneself has become a deeply ingrained way of being.
5 ways to show kindness to others
1. Give up your seat for an older man or woman. Look out for the best interest of those around you and use your strengths to help where others may not be so strong.
2. Look out for your neighbor. Offer a helping hand wherever possible. Perhaps offer to babysit or feed their cats whilst they are away.
3. Make a meal for someone in need. Drop a meal off with a friend the next time they are not well or make a meal for someone who has just given birth.
4. Volunteer at a charity. Perhaps help out at the local children’s home or animal shelter. Many incredible organizations are doing beautiful work in the world.
5. Write a note of appreciation. Thank others for their value in your life and remind them of their beautiful qualities.
5 ways to bring kindness into your home
1. Be kind to your child. The way we treat our children will become the way they treat others. “Children are human beings to which respect is due, superior to us, by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future…Let us treat them [children], therefore, with all the kindness which we would wish to help to develop in them.” – Maria Montessori
2. Create a random act of kindness bag. Place ideas into a bag, and once a week, draw a card. Commit to spreading an act of kindness each week as a family.
3. Notice when your child is being kind. Make sure to show appreciation for the ways your child is being kind to others. Reinforce these acts by pointing them out and thank your child for spreading beautiful energy into the world.
4. Share stories of kindness. Perhaps you read a story about someone doing something kind in your community. Share this with your child. Focus your awareness and speech on the kindness you see around you.
5. Pass on compliments. Go around the dinner table and complement each other on something lovely that you noticed about your loved one that day. Extend this into your greater community.
Like anything, it is easy to show children how to interact in the world in a kind and uplifting manner. Maria Montessori found a way to teach children to behave appropriately through grace and courtesy lessons. She introduced children to behaviors that would stand them in good stead and help them spread positive energy in the world.
A child is shown these essential yet straightforward life skills and values in a Montessori school. However, it is easy enough to show your child how to be kind by role modeling through your behavior.
Make kindness a way of being, and let’s change the world together, one random act at a time, and pass on the kindness torch to our next generation!
‘How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.’ – Morgan Freeman