As parents, it is important to teach our children how to practice kindness in this world. Kindness is more than the act of doing something nice for someone else. Kindness goes far beyond giving a gift to your friends and washing the dishes for mom.
When our children are bullied by another, they have their feelings hurt and often feel angry. This is the time for us to teach about anger and how it relates to kindness. Even if we don’t act on our feelings, others feel our feelings because all of us are sensitive to the feelings of others.
So, I often teach children that feeling angry is like throwing an imaginary hardball. Ever have someone throw a hardball to you? It smarts in your hands when you catch the ball. We don’t want to throw stuff like this to others, and that is why we “feel sorry” because others feel the pain when we are angry. We can teach our children to tell us and give it to God in prayer:
- “I am feeling” (angry or sad or whatever).
- And “I am sorry for feeling this way”
- We then need to be consistent in our responses of: “I forgive you” and “I love you” and, “You are going to be okay.” In this way, our children will feel relieved by giving those feelings to us (and to God) and not carry the feelings anymore. When I pray, I often say, Holy Ghost, please put this into the rivers that flow away from us.
Our consistency in teaching this lesson throughout our children’s lives is important in teaching and reinforcing kindness. Our children will be constantly challenged by other ways of reacting, just as adults have the same challenges.
In light of current issues in the news, we as parents also need to tell our children how to teach kindness. When their friends are upset or angry, our children can learn helping skills, leadership skills, coaching skills, mentoring skills saying to their friends:
- “I told my parents that I was sorry for feeling upset, and I felt peaceful when mom said, “I forgive you and I love you.”
Kindness is developed by letting go of the anger and hurt feelings—and teaching others to do the same.