Both my children have been the Shire (area) Young Citizen of the Year through their volunteering by serving others. Has serving others been a straightforward process for our family to adopt? No, but I have tried to make it a natural part of our family life. Plus, where possible, I have made it fun and attempted to involve their friends.
Would you love your children to impact the world?
How do you start this process of teaching and training your kids?
Mother Teresa once said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family”.
What was Mother Teresa implying? Sometimes it is easier to ‘put on a mask’ and treat other people nicely and yet be horrible at home. You can be kind to everyone else, but if you do not treat your own family kindly, then you have achieved nothing. Who you are around your own family is who you truly are.
When my children were younger, I planned on our family doing random acts of kindness to change other people’s worlds. When I stopped to look at our family, I realized my kids were fighting a lot, and we were all unkind to each other. I was leading the charge by disrespecting my husband, and the kids picked up on this.
We decided that we first needed to be kind to everyone in our immediate family unit and show each other respect. We spent a week focusing on being kind to each other. This is where I begin when I consult with other families interested in raising kids who are world changers.
Some ways to look at how we can be kind to each other:
- We looked at what being kind and not being kind looked like. We brainstormed ways we were unkind e.g. not sharing, getting angry, etc
- We played a kindness game each day for a week. Every evening, we would write every family member’s name on a slip of paper and put it in a bowl. Each family member would then pull a name out of the bowl. If you got your name, we would swap it. The following 24 hours, you had to perform secret acts of kindness for that family member, e.g. secretly do their chore, write a loving note to put on their pillow, etc. The next evening at dinner, we would try to guess who our secret kindness performer was. (This had the added benefit of helping everyone be kind to everyone else as it became a good competition of everyone being kind to everyone so that it was harder to guess who was your secret kindness performer.) We then put everyone’s name back in the hat/bowl and pulled out another family member’s name for the next 24 hours.
- Have a specific object that everyone recognises as a kindness tool. When you do someone’s chore, place that kindness tool at the place of the chore to say it has already been done for you out of kindness. Then it is your turn to be kind to someone else.
- Have a jar on the bench/table labelled “acts of kindness”. Whenever any family member sees a family member being kind to someone, they write it on a slip of paper and put the paper in the jar. At the end of the week, read out the slips of paper and celebrate all the kind acts.
- Find ways you can be grateful. Celebrate the behaviour of your children that you are thankful for. When we point out and celebrate the great stuff, we shift the focus off the negative. Each evening at dinner, ask everyone to identify any outstanding kindness from another family member. Affirm each kind person.
I urge you to have a go at trying some of these methods in your family. Please comment below with any other ways you have found successful at helping your family be kind to each other.
Next blog, I will look at being kind to your neighbours.