Helping foster kindness in our children and ourselves

How to get along with your fellow human beings is one of the hardest things to teach. Kindness, which sounds so simple, is often in short supply; on the internet, in the parking lot, and on family road-trips in the car.

I’ve learned as a parent that it’s really hard to teach kids how to handle somebody “pushing your buttons”. To be fair to kids, it’s really hard for some adults to handle “button pushing” too.

Sometimes I wish everyone could read a copy of Dale Carnegie’s classic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” because the whole book is about treating people kindly, even when it’s really hard. Carnegie suggests beginning a conversation in a friendly way, trying to see things from another person’s point of view, showing genuine appreciation, and readily admitting when you are wrong.

These are all people skills that I want my children to master. I could always use some improvement too! So this week, my family is focusing on fostering “Kindness”.

We have two mason jars on our kitchen table, and popcorn at the ready. When I notice my kids being kind, I add some popcorn kernels to their jars. When the jars are filled up, we will pop the corn and watch a movie together.

This popcorn trick is an old-standby a lot of teachers use in the classroom to encourage good behavior. But I’m hoping it will work here at home too. I’ve bought a whole bunch of popcorn, just in case!

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