Kindness Matters


It has actually been quite a while since my last post.  My New Year began with a bang!  A urinary tract infection, that was resistant to 3 antibiotics, that eventually turned into a kidney infection,  laid me flat on my back.  Not quite how I expected to greet the New Year!  Sometimes life throws us a few curve balls and we have to just roll with the punches.  Nevertheless, in the midst of my health hoop-la, I was unable to write posts on my blog.  Therefore, it is wonderful to finally be feeling better, to be on the mend, and to get back to writing.

Now, onto a topic that is dear to my heart- KINDNESS.  What is kindness?  Webster’s Dictionary defines kindness as having a loving, helpful and considerate nature. In my mind, kindness goes hand in hand with the word RESPECT.  The definition for respect is: showing esteem, admiration, courtesy, and proper acceptance.

I grieve that as a 64 year old grandmother I see kindness and respect evaporating from the society and culture that we currently live in.  I was familiar with the time-honored tradition of looking people in the eye when passing in the market place, smiling and saying hello and receiving the same response, many times even engaging in small talk while waiting in lines at stores.  In today’s world, most people won’t dare make eye contact.  Everyone is in such a rush.  Eyes are most often diverted to cell phones as people rush to get on elevators where heads are lowered and a word is not spoken, unless it is to mention what floor is their destination.  Respect previously was shown to teachers, pastors, police, and to people in positions of authority.  No more.  Actually there seems to be no comprehension of what the word “respect” means.  No understanding of what manners are.  Now, I acknowledge that we have had many reasons to have had our concept of “respect” shattered with all of the scandals with public figures who we have trusted, having their ivory castles dissolve into sand.

Yet, we as a society, nonetheless, have to stand up for what is right and stand on Biblical principles that we need to teach our children as the next generation that will be leading our land.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32

Jesus states that the greatest commandment is in Matthew 22:37-39                                            “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Therefore if we are to base our values on these verses; loving God and loving our neighbor as ourself- being kind and compassionate to others and forgiving them because Christ forgave me, we have to purposefully take steps to live out our lives as adults modeling these concepts.  

It is of utmost importance that our children know that they need to lead with kindness and respect for all people.  So how does that play out?

We as parents and grandparents have to be the ones who teach our children kindness and respect.  In the article “The Art of Teaching Children Kindness and Respect” from the blog, Dirt&Boogers, Amanda states that when she and her husband began dating that they set values for their relationship.  The two main ones were being respectful and showing kindness.  They chose to respect each other in private and in public.  They would not speak bad about each other.  They would respect each other’s feelings, time, and space.  They would love each other, so they would respect each other.  They would also be understanding of each other and show kindness to each other.  They would do kind things for one another and respond to each other with kind words.  When their children were born, they attached these words to their family in a deep way.  “Our family is kind and respectful.”  That became their mantra, it became how they described their family and everyone in it.  Those 2 words became the foundation of their family.

Every interaction that the family has with each other is run through the filter of “Is this kind and respectful”?  If one of their children does something that is not kind, he is reminded that “Our family is kind and that what he did was not kind.”  Then they problem solve together and figure out what he can do next time, or what he should do now to repair the situation.

The parents are held to the same standards.  If mom and dad make mistakes and are not kind and respectful, they apologize that they yelled and admit that it was not the kind and respectful thing to do.  This shows that everyone lives up to the same standards set for them.

On another blog, “Sleeping Should Be Easy, Everything I’m Learning About Being a Mom” is an article about “The Healing Power of Kindness”.  The article by Lloyd Dean and James Doty, MD speaks about a growing body of scientific evidence at Stanford University that indicates that kindness holds the power to heal.  The Dignity Health/CCare Scientific Literature Review shows that when patients are treated with kindness--when there is an effort made to get to know them, empathize with them, communicate with them, listen to them and respond to their needs–it can lead to the following outcomes:  faster healing of wounds, reduced pain, reduced anxiety, reduced blood pressure, and shorter hospital stays.  The research also shows that when doctors and nurses act compassionately, patients are more likely to be forthcoming in divulging medical information,which in turn leads to more accurate diagnoses.

Kindness does matter.  It does make a difference in people’s lives.

Proverbs 16:24 states “Kind words are like honey- sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Biblical principals back up what the scientific research is showing us today.  Likewise, shouldn’t we open our eyes and see the truth?

Nina Garcia writes in her blog Sleeping Should Be Easy, an article entitled “How to Raise a Kind Child”.    In her article she lists 8 Ways to Raise a Kind Child.

  1.  Show gentleness– Our kids need to know how to be gentle, whether it is hugging a new baby sister or petting the cat, or playing with a stuffed animal.
  2. Don’t tolerate rudeness towards you or anyone These are manners you shouldn’t tolerate in your kids.  Nip it in the bud.  Raise kids who don’t talk back.  Enforce rules consistently, regardless of circumstances, don’t let them excuse him from being mean.
  3. Encourage helpfulness- and don’t reward it–   Genuine helpfulness should come from within.  Kids should be kind because they derive internal joy from being so and because it is the right thing to do, not because they get attention and money.
  4.  Praise their character, not behavior  You want your child to associate kindness as part of their makeup.  Saying “You’re so kind”, would have more impact than “You did a kind thing.” In praising a child’s kind character instead of his kind behavior, you are helping cement the idea they he is indeed a kind person.
  5. Don’t focus so much on achievement  Winning isn’t everything.  When everything is about competition your kids lose sight of other more noble pursuits: teamwork, effort, challenging oneself.  They might grow up narcissistic instead of empathetic.  Aiming so high at all costs leads your kids to focus only on themselves and see others as mere props or competitors.
  6. Point out kindness– Whether theirs or others- point out acts of kindness you see.  When reading books or watching movies, discuss good deeds the characters are doing.  Talk about how their kindness made others feel.  Also point out when characters aren’t being kind.
  7. Model kindnessParenting starts with us.  We need to model the values we want our kids to emulate.  Be genuinely kind in actions and words.  Your actions will teach your child more than any lecture or lesson could.
  8. Express empathyIt is even more important for your kids to be able to show empathy for what others must be feeling.  Empathy allows us to see beyond ourselves and therefore opens us to kindness.  The Golden Rule- “Treat others like you want to be treated.”

When I was teaching I had a poster in my class that we would refer to when needed.  This was what the poster stated:

                                                   Before You Speak  

                                                            THINK !

                                                       T – Is it True?

                                                       H – Is it Helpful?

                                                       I – Is it Inspiring?

                                                       N – Is it Necessary?

                                                       K – Is it Kind?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

It was very helpful in teaching children that they don’t have to say everything that comes into their mind.  For instance, if a child comes in with a shirt or hat that another child views as ugly, that child should keep his comments to himself.  If the shirt has a character on it that another child does not like, he should not poke fun at the child for wearing the shirt, but stay silent, because that could hurt the child’s feelings.  The same goes with eating food at lunch.  We have a multi-cultural group of children these days, who eat a variety of foods.  Some children eat sushi or seaweed for lunch.  Other kids should not make comments about another child’s food.  That is inappropriate and unkind.  The bottom line is the Golden Rule.  Would you like someone doing that to you?  Everyone is different.  You don’t have to like what they like.  It is o.k. if they eat or wear something different than you.  Some kids have allergies and can not eat what other kids eat at lunch. We need to have respect for each person’s differences and show kindness to all people.

I still believe in the magic words.  You may be wondering what the magic words are.   Please and thank you.  I so rarely hear them anymore.  The dinner table is the perfect place to begin to work on manners.  If Ben would like some more potatoes, then he may ask:  “May I please have some more potatoes?”  Then after he has been served his potatoes, he is to say:  “Thank you.”  Kids should say “Thank you.” to Mom for preparing the meal.  When a child is finished eating she may ask:  “May I be excused?”   In some families the kids take their plates and clean them off and put them in the dish washer, or put them on the counter, as part of their chores for the day.  The child also pushes in her chair.

When using the bathroom, to show courtesy and respect, the child should make sure that the seat is down.  If the child left any sprinkles on the seat, he should make sure to wipe them off.  He should also make sure to flush the toilet and make sure all of the toilet paper is in the toilet.  Then, he is to wash his hands and turn off the light before leaving the bathroom.

Teach your sons to be gentlemen and hold the door open for the ladies.  Help your kids to see that it is kind to help an elderly person with her heavy bags or with taking a cart back at the store.  Model that behavior, as a behavior that you want your kids to emulate.

By sharing kindness and respect with all who we encounter in the world today, we can make this world a better place.  We can spread the light within us and let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

                                                             This Little Light Of Mine

                                     This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.                                                                                                                                              

                                     This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  

                                     This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.    

                                           Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.    

                                           by Avis B. Christiansen and Harry D. Loes

Here are some resources that you may enjoy.

20 Ways to Teach Kids About Respect

Teaching Respect to Children

How to Respond When Your Child is Disrespectful?

May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand.

Debra Smith     

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