I have to admit, it’s been a rough few months seeing such negative banter in my news feeds. It’s been a potent mix of left vs right and I am a huge believer in the freedom of speech, but I also believe if you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say it. It’s hard to sit back and watch such a divide in our country, and it’s left me with plenty to contemplate, and work through as an individual, a mother, a woman, and even a wife.
The last thing I want is for my children to act this way amongst their peers. I have one chance to get it right with my four little ones and even though I may seem quite polished in the parenting know-alls, the truth is every day is quite the unchartered journey. It’s up to me to create a culture of kindness that my children can learn from as they grow.
Kindness increases our energy levels and confidence. Studies show that being kind makes you more energetic and increases our sense of self-worth.
Be the Best Example For Your Kids
For my children, I want them to only practice being kind and it starts with us parents. I don’t need any external influences or an audience for that matter to instill kindness. Hatred, is sadly right in front of me, filling my news feed everywhere I turn. Haven’t we learned as a society from those that have left an unforgettable footprint?
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear,” said Martin Luther King Jr. John Lennon once said, “It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love, or how you love, it matters only that you love.” These words have resonated with me and have hit my mothering core. I want my kids to rise above any obstacle, but with kindness at their forefront while achieving their goals.
Researchers found that people who performed more acts of kindness throughout the day were less likely to report negative emotions. They were also able to maintain their positive emotions.
Taking On the Great Kindness Challenge
In the past, my kids’ schools have done a lot to cultivate a culture of kindness, including participation in The Great Kindness Challenge, a program that was started by parents just like you and me. What started organically as a neighborhood group of kids wanting to make our world a better place, has grown into an interconnected network of young peacebuilders worldwide thanks to mom, Jill McManigal from Carlsbad, California.
“In 2011, the elementary school that Jill’s children attended asked Kids for Peace to help create a more positive, unified, and respectful school environment. As a result, The Great Kindness Challenge was designed and piloted with three Carlsbad, California schools. Because of our innovative approach and wildly successful results, word spread, and a kindness movement was born!”
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Research has shown that doing random acts of kindness triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood stability and oxytocin, a hormone that makes you feel connected to other people. Combined, this has the effect of making you feel loved and emotionally stable when you are frequently kind to others.
Create Your Own Culture of Kindness at Home
I was so happy to learn that the heart of this challenge started right in my own town. The heart of it all is a simple belief that kindness is strength. We all know that once an action is repeated, a habit is formed, right? It works that way with math, or even brushing your teeth, so why not with kindness? “With the Great Kindness Challenge checklist in hand, students have the opportunity to repeat a kind act, after kind act. As kindness becomes a habit, peace becomes possible.”
I was so touched when I first learned our school participates in such an empowering movement. After we greeted all the kids, teachers, and parents at school, I found myself in a pool of tears. I thought to myself, “What kind of world would we live in if we all applied this Great Kindness Challenge to our lives? What if we went beyond its designated week and practiced this every single day? How harmonious would our country look like? How peaceful would we be?”
Acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone, oxytocin, in the brain and throughout the body.
We Need Kindness Now More Than Ever
It starts with me! I am going to take this challenge and apply it to my everyday parenting and make sure I am molding my children into being more compassionate, tolerant, kinder little humans. If we all work together, I do believe we could prove that our world could be rich in compassion and filled with kindness.
This year, the challenge runs from January 25 – 29, and although it’s virtual this year, that doesn’t mean we can’t do wonderfully kind things for others! Some things you and your family can do include:
- reading a book to a younger child
- entertaining someone with a happy dance (Brody is great at this!)
- smiling at 25 people
- pushing a friend on a swing
- giving (5) $5.00 Starbucks cards to strangers
- saying good morning to everyone who passes by
- cutting out ten hearts and leaving them on ten cars
I do believe life is unpredictable just like the weather, but one thing that I know is for certain, is that we can control our actions. Because I’m not just molding my children for me, but for when I have to relinquish my role as the primary conductor of their lives. I too hope to leave a footprint on their souls, but I will make sure that it’s filled with heartfelt optimism and overflowing with kindness.
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“The time is always right to do what’s right.” —Martin Luther King Jr.