One way to help kids who are struggling is to try flipping the script – talk less about self-care and more about care for others around us.
Research shows that kindness towards others is more beneficial for mental and physical health than self-care. Active kindness: helping others, volunteering, being generous and consciously kind, results in us feeling physically better, less depressed, and more energized. It just makes us happier.
Being actively kind has profound positive impacts for kids. An article in Psychology Today reports that kids who have life experience helping others are three times happier than those who don’t. Generosity reduces teenage risk for suicide, pregnancy, school failure and substance abuse. They also report that teens who practice kindness are more socially competent and have higher self-esteem.
Are you raising your kids to be kind? The primary way children learn a lifestyle of kindness and generosity is by watching you. How can you live a life more centered on active kindness? Here are ideas to help:
Check in Daily: Around the dinner table or while tucking your child in at night, ask them how they showed their kindness that day. Shift from, “How was your day?” to “How did you make someone’s day brighter today?” or “What did you do to help others today?” Need ideas to get the wheels turning? Spend some time brainstorming with your children – their ideas are the best places to start. Here are another 20 Simple Kindness Activities For Kids.
Choose Media Wisely: Our popular culture is steeped in violence and darkness, even in children’s media. What our children digest, both as food and food for the brain, affects their development. Consciously choose to provide them a diet of media rich in the qualities you hope your children will grow, such as the willingness and ability to be kind and generous. Here are fifty movie ideas that foster kindness.
Prioritize kindness over achievement and four additional proven ways to raise kind children from Harvard University.
Become a RAKivist: There are international movements supporting and encouraging members in their pursuit of prioritizing kindness. As a family, you may want to join one like www.randomactsofkindness.org.
Read Books About Kindness: Books supply a springboard for important conversations. Here are two options for children and teens: