Great tips! #3 is really thought provoking.
By Nikki Pennington | staff writer for The Snap Mom
Raising three boys, my main focus has always been matters of the heart. Of course, I want them to grow up to be smart, healthy, and sociable. More importantly, I want them to grow up to have kind hearts because kindness will get you far in life. If I teach them to be sociable, but they are rude to others, they will not excel. I want them to understand that there is a world out there beyond our family… that there are people right up the road from us or next door that are hurting. My biggest fear is that my sons will grow up and miss opportunities to change lives. You can’t earn a degree in that.
Here are a few things I do to make sure I raise my boys to become kind-hearted young men.
1. Model it for Them
Every day, anywhere you go, there is a chance to help someone or make someone smile. A few weeks ago right before Christmas, I went into the post office with my oldest son. While there, I encountered a lady that had 150 Christmas cards and was going to stand there and stamp them all by herself. I offered to help her and she gladly accepted. Before I knew it, two other strangers asked if I would help them. I didn’t complain or say “no,” and in the end I said, “thank you for letting me help you.” All the while, my five-year-old was there watching, taking it all in. I wanted him to see how you can recognize an opportunity to help someone even when they don’t ask.
2. Expose Them
Maybe you think it’s best to shelter them from certain things: those with cancer or those who have suffered a loss. I expose my children to those things. I want them to know that not everyone is as blessed as us to be healthy and here with our family. People have hurts and if we can, we need to be there to show them we care, even if we don’t know them. Do you know of someone local that is struggling? Sick? Grieving? Your kids can collect toys, help make cookies, or simply take balloons and flowers to the person. There was a sweet little boy with cancer that impacted our lives a few months ago. I wanted my sons to be involved. I told them his story. We let balloons go in memory of him on special holidays or even just because and send them to the family. I want my kids to know that there is a family out there missing someone. When we remember too, the family knows they are loved.
3. Don’t Give Rewards
I never give rewards when my sons help me do something kind for someone else. You won’t always get something in return for doing a good deed. Sometimes the smile on someone’s face or a “thank you” is more than enough of a reward. They need to be happy with that. Sometimes, you never get a reward, and that is ok too. We don’t do kind things for rewards, we do kind things because it is the right thing to do. I want them to know the joy they feel in their hearts is all they need. Once, we collected chopsticks for chemotherapy patients. My oldest asked if he could go and meet the sick children they would be going to. I told him that was not possible. He said, “Well, how will they know the chopsticks came from us?” My response was simple,“they don’t need to know.”
4. Show Them the Signs
I want to make them aware of their surroundings, I want them to be able to recognize someone that is hurting or needs help without the person telling them. I want them to be able to meet a need before it even exists. If someone drops something, let’s pick it up for them before they even realized they dropped it. It’s the little and daily things that matter most.
5. We can Help Strangers
Obviously these are things that are only to be done with an adult. However, in order to instill this kind-hearted awareness, they have to be aware that we can help strangers. I want my sons to know that you don’t have to know someone in order to help them. Just this week we drove twenty-five minutes away to take flowers to a family that lost two loved ones in a tornado. We didn’t know them, we had never met them before. When we saw the story on the news, my oldest said, “They must be really sad.” I explained to them there were things we could do for them just to show them we cared. I bought flowers, and I took them out to where the people lost their lives. I didn’t take him with me to this only because of safety issues in the area, but I told him what I was doing. He helped me pick out the flowers over the phone. He recognized the hurt for a stranger, and I showed him we could do something about it without knowing them.
These are just a few examples of how to help instill a kind heart in your child. I want my sons to be a light in this world. I want them to know that we are here to enjoy this life, but there are others right beside of us that are in need. If we can do something, we should.
About the author:
Nikki is a stay at home mom to three high spirited boys. Three years ago she became a motherless daughter after losing her own mom to terminal brain cancer. When she is not playing the role of referee for the boys, she spends her days trying to encourage and inspire others that are on the grief journey.