Our kids are drowning and if you are reading this article I have to assume you have read the previous two articles I wrote on this as well. In what is numbered as part III of this series we are going to explore the simple acts of kindness. This doesn't mean buying things, making a big fuss all the time, etc. It means being more than you have been and a lot of times that starts with a smile. I know its cliché and again these ideas, thoughts and opinions are not the end all. They are just an opportunity for us to grow and improve and begin to consistently apply. I think we get overwhelmed with what we think we should be doing, it's simpler than all of that. Below are a few ways to show kindness no matter the age of the person remember we must be purposeful and consciously making an effort.
Smile and ask how are you
With this suggestion it's more than just asking the question it's smiling allowing your body language to indicate you are open and willing. It also involves asking the question how you are? Once this question is asked allow your body language and words to match. What does this mean? It simply means act like you mean what you say. This helps in how the child answers. Because they can easily gage if it’s genuine or not and they are quick to turn a deaf ear when they feel you are just leading them on. This is where the cliché saying let your “actions speak louder than your words” comes into play. Eye contact, small gestures, and smiling are some of the simplest ways to convey your interest. But let’s take it a step further like putting your phone down, putting down any electronic device, turning the T.V. on low or mute or off. Or what about turning and facing them so they know that you are ready, willing and available. How many times have you wished you had more time? How many of you have realized there is actually enough time we just may not use it as wisely. Well here is your chance.
Get Involved and Interested
This suggestion sounds redundant and in some ways it is. Getting involved means so many different things so here is another way to think of it get involved in their interests. This means not suggesting things to do with them unless they are things that they like or are now into. For example, if you find out a child likes soccer but you prefer baseball don’t ask the child to attend the baseball game ask them about attending the soccer game first. Go with them, have fun and make an effort to find out why they like what they like what they like about it and discover together what you may have in common. I know oftentimes it’s easier to get down and play a video game or be in the room while they are playing. But what if you take it a step further and take an active role, are a part of the video game, tell stories about your experiences with games, or get down and color or play or write. Just that small bit of involvement goes a long way.
Share your story
I love this one. Over the years between teaching children and now adults, working with adults and raising my own children I have seen the impact of sharing your story. Sometimes sharing your story is inappropriate and can back fire but that’s a chance that is a part of everything we do. In this case it means as you create this relationship and begin to become closer and involved share your story. Use your story to illustrate your commitment to them as well as yourself. This doesn’t mean using the age old line “when I was young” or “back in my day”, remember this isn’t about you per say but about what can be discovered through your story. Children no matter the age love discovery and mystery and it helps them to put the pieces together when you share your story appropriately and affectionately. They appreciate the sentiment and allow them a safe place to begin to share theirs as well.
Now you may find yourself saying I already do these things I would challenge you to take some time and think about how, when and how often you do these things? Are you consistent? Is it genuine? Is it purposeful? Remember the goal behind this isn’t to be perfect; perfection is neither attainable nor required. The goal is to begin to make a difference and to do so we have to make the change in ourselves so we can make it in our kid’s lives.