This week I have been reminded again how I am raising world changers. I am raising my children to change the world. But as Mother Theresa once said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family”.
What was Mother Theresa implying? Sometimes it is easier to ‘put on a mask’ and treat other people nicely and yet be horrible at home. Can any of you relate to shouting at your children in the car one minute and then arriving somewhere and being really nice to everyone? You can be amazing to everyone else, but if you do not treat your own family kindly and in an amazing manner, then you have achieved nothing. Who you are around your own family is who you really are.
Three years ago, I was looking at our family doing a heap of random acts of kindness to change other people’s world. When I stopped to look at our own family though, I realised that my kids were fighting a lot and we were all being unkind to each other. It was decided that the first thing we needed to do was to look at being kind to everyone in our immediate family unit. We spent a week focussed on being kind to each other. This is now where I begin when I consult with other families who are interested in raising kids who are world changers.
Below are some practical suggestions on helping your family to be kind to each other:
- We look at what being kind and not being kind looks like. We brainstorm ways we are being unkind eg not sharing, getting angry, etc. We look at how that makes us feel when someone is unkind to us. We then brainstorm ways that we can be kind to each other.
- We play a kindness game each day for a week. Every evening we write every family member’s name on a slip of paper and put in a bowl. Each family member then pulls a name out of the bowl. If you get your own name, you swap it. The next 24 hours, you have to try to secretly perform acts of kindness for that family member eg do their chore, write a loving note to put on their pillow etc. The next evening at dinner, we try and guess who our own secret kindness performer has been. (This had the added benefit of helping everyone to be kind to each other as it becomes a good competition of everyone being kind to everyone so that it is harder to guess who was meant to be your secret kindness performer.) We then put everyone’s name back in the bowl and pull out another family member’s name for the next 24 hours.
- Have a certain object that everyone recognises as a kindness tool. When you do someone’s chore, place that kindness tool at the place of the chore as a means of saying it has been already 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 someone in the family being kind to someone, they write it on a slip of paper with the kind person’s name on it and put the slip of paper in the jar. At the end of the week, read out the slips of paper and celebrate all the kindness acts.
- Find ways you can be grateful. Celebrate the behaviour of your children that you are thankful and grateful for. I find that 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. Spend time affirming each person who was kind.
I urge you to have a go at trying some of these methods in your family. Please comment below with any other methods you have found successful at helping your family to be kind to each other. Next week in part 2, I will look at being kind to your neighbours.