Why Parenting Kind Kids?
Because Kindness Matters to Our Kids
Why am I creating a website on parenting kind kids? The short answer is, I needed it, and it didn’t exist. I still need it.
And my kids need me.
Where are all the websites for parents on teaching kindness?
After listening to a brilliant NPR Parenting Life Kit on kindness, I wanted to learn more about teaching kindness to children. How do we parent to raise kind kids? I did what every good millennial parent does: I checked with Dr. Google.
I found many great articles on how to raise a kind child, but there wasn’t an ongoing conversation. In fact, there were no dedicated websites to the topic. There were websites for classroom teachers, but not for parents. Let’s be clear: I am so glad the world has decided to support teachers bringing kindness into the classroom.
But what about parents? Don’t the most valuable lessons in kindness come from home? I think so. But a Harvard study shows we may not be doing such a great job of passing these lessons on to the new generation.
Kids don’t value kindness, and they think we don’t either.
In the Harvard study, 80% of middle schoolers ranked personal success as more important than kindness. Moreover, 80% also believed their parents ranked their personal success as more important than caring for others.
However, that doesn’t match what parents identify as most important. Parents want caring children, but our kids don’t know it!
So why the gap? Why are kids not getting the message that kindness matters? Have teenagers just always held these warped views, because… well, teenagers are kind of developmentally self-centered?
These questions plague me. As I look at my three small boys, I want to know if they will confidently be part of the 20% that says, “Kindness matters most!”
I want to raise kind children. And I’m raising the flag here and now: in our family, kindness comes before personal success.
But what if you’re not convinced? What if you’re still wondering whether kindness should come over other values, such as personal happiness?
Why kindness matters to your kids
I could make a pretty feel-good and rather squishy case about “making the world a better place.” I believe it, and you will find it whispered into the words of everything I write on this site. I do believe kindness makes a better, more loving world.
I could also enlist faith. As a Christian, I want my kids to imitate the kindness of God. I don’t believe there has ever been anyone kinder than Jesus. I long for my kids to view him as the ultimate role model of showing kindness to the most alienated populations. Still, the argument might only be convincing to those who share the same faith as me.
However, science makes a pretty good argument for kindness.
The selfish argument for kindness
- Kindness makes you happier. We all want our kids to be happy. When we teach kindness, we are setting our children up for a happy life. A Harvard study showed the happiest people are the most altruistic and act on their altruism. Of course, the more we know about the brain, the more it makes sense. Our brains are designed to be social. Being kind triggers reward centers in your brain, just like opioids or other drugs. Our brains are designed to be social. Ironically, prioritizing happiness doesn’t make you happy. But being kind does.
- Kindness is good for your health. Studies as early as 1956 show that living a generous, helpful life decreases disease.
- Kindness is essential to a healthy, long-lasting marriage. Your child might get married some day. They also might get divorced. If there’s something you can do to spare your kids from that pain, you want to do it. Dr. John Gottman became famous for his ability to predict a marriage’s success based on a couple’s physiological response during a conversation. The couple could appear calm, but if electrodes demonstrated a high level of around (flight-or-fight mode), their marriage had a low chance of survival. He has studied thousands of marriages. What makes a marriage last? What pulls us out of this flight-or-fight mode? Kindness, he says. That means, when you teach your child to be kind, you’re training them for lifelong relationships. If they get married, you just increased the likelihood they’ll succeed at marriage.
- Kindness isn’t just about you or the person you help. Every person who witnesses a kind act experiences real benefits from it. And they’re more likely to be kind to another. It’s catching.
But, remember, as I said at the top, kids aren’t getting the kindness message. They don’t know how important kindness is. That is why I’m starting Parenting Kind Kids. Because our kids need it.
How can you help?
I’m so glad you asked. I’m looking to interview lots of people. Reach out to me.