That’s a pretty big order, isn’t it?!
Last week during a presentation to a class of 8th-graders,
I unintentionally scared some students.
They let me know it, in no uncertain terms, during the Q & A at the end of the presentation.
Quite a few admitted that they panicked a bit when I told them I believed that it was their generation that would fix our fractured country and even had the potential to repair the world. One wise 8th grader told me “that was a big order for a generation dealing with social media overdosing and a ton of mental health issues.”
Fortunately, they also let me know how relieved they were when I told them how they could easily achieve this humongous task and then even gave them simple suggestions to try…
I believe the younger generation, especially after watching the current behavior of the older generations, will choose kindness. By being kind to someone, they can change the world.
You do not have to like everyone or agree with everything (or anything) they say … but you can choose to be kind.
Here are 3 Easy Ways to teach your child to be kind and change the world:
1. Model Kindness
I often joke that little kids have big eyes and big ears when it comes to paying attention to adult things – especially when we don’t want them to!
However, if you demonstrate kindness as you go through life, your children will pick up on this. If they see you respond to someone who is sad with a hug or say thank you to someone who has just served you a cup of coffee, they will learn how to treat others with kindness.
2. Encourage Their Imagination
Encourage your children to imagine what someone else is feeling … and then what that person/animal might need.
“Imagine if your sister was really tired and grumpy. What do you think she might need?” (Her blanket, a nap, a hug, a snack?)
“Imagine your dog knocked over his water bowl. What do you think he is feeling right now? (sad, thirsty, helpless?) What do you think he might need?”
3. Perform Random Acts of Kindness Together!
While the National Day for Random Acts of Kindness is officially February 17th – I believe ANY day is a great day for Random Acts of Kindness. Help your child get into the spirit by doing random acts of kindness together. Here are a few fun ones to try:
- Bake cookies for a neighbor.
- Write letters to a family member who might need cheering up – or just be missing you.
- Shovel someone else’s driveway. (Please note- you will most likely be doing most of the work, but that falls under the idea above: Model Kindness!)
- Read a book to someone. This can be in-person or virtually – we used to read books over the phone to grandparents long before Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, or Zoom were invented…
- Compliment someone, even a complete stranger – it could make their day!
- Donate toys or clothing that your child has outgrown.
- Paint cheerful rocks to leave around the neighborhood.
Besides my belief that kindness will change the world…
there are many scientific reasons to
It increases your serotonin and dopamine, the neurotransmitters that help boost your mood and cause your pleasure centers to light up in your brain. Being kind not only helps the receiver but helps the giver feel pretty good, too.
Being kind can also help increase endorphin production – these are your body’s natural pain killers.
While there are multiple ways to reduce anxiety, kindness may be one of the easiest (and least expensive)! It’s hard to be anxious when your positive affect (joy, alertness, and interest) is on the rise caused by your kind behaviors towards someone else -yes, even a simple behavior such as a smile!
And science even backs up my belief that kindness will save the world! Research shows that kindness can also help build and strengthen relationships.
So, are you up for it?
Will you help your child change the world?
Check out the Kindness Calendar I created during my Gratitude Challenge in 2019 and please use it to sprinkle Random Acts of Kindness throughout your world. Click the button below!
Cheryl A Major says
Great article Dr. Renee. It’s a tall order to fix what’s wrong, and we need them to be up to the task. It’s been wonderful being in this challenge with you. I wonder if we can collaborate on something about healthy eating down the road. I mostly work with women over 40, but having an audience of kids would be fun!
Dr Renee Cohn Jones says
Thank you for your kind words Cheryl! It has been fun tackling this challenge along side you -I’m glad we were both in it.
I would love to collaborate with you. I work with many moms (and dads) who care about their health and could use your simple, straightforward tips to take care of themselves! Let’s set up a time to talk 😊
Connie Ragen Green says
While “Changing the World” is indeed a tall order, it’s one that must be presented in order for everyone seeing/hearing/reading this will know is directed at them. I believe we must encourage people of all ages to play BIG, not small and to set goals that are much bigger than what they currently think they can accomplish.
Keep scaring people, Dr. Renee!
Dr Renee Cohn Jones says
Haha! Maybe I’ll just work more to motivate them and less to scare them – but I agree. We DO need to reach and stretch and help others and make a difference.