In a survey done by Pew Research in the Fall of 2014, it came out that the quality that most parents want to teach their children is responsibility. In groups that identify as consistently liberal, coming in second was empathy for others and third was helping others. In simpler terms, we could call that kindness. The Harvard psychologist, Richard Weissbourd, outlines 5 key ways to raise kind, moral kids. According to Making Caring Common (run by Weissbourd), these are the 5 key ways:
- Make caring for others a priority
- Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude
- Expand your child’s circle of concern
- Be a strong moral role model and mentor
- Guide children in managing destructive feelings
Weissbourd tells us not to overfocus on our kids’ feelings
In this other article, the author refers to Weissbourd’s research that suggests that perhaps we are over-focusing on our kids’ feelings which will “cause children to dramatize their feelings, and to make their own feelings too precious.” “As an unintended result”, Weissbourd argues, “children think about their own feelings constantly, and don’t wonder if the new kid in their class is lonely, ask why their mom looks so frazzled or notice when they hurt their little sister’s feelings.”
Can we be too kind?
I want to just call out the risks in over-focusing on kindness —> people-pleasing, need for validation, becoming a martyr, and the unwillingness to speak the truth are just a few. I guess what I am saying is that as with anything, we need to stay balanced. If we don’t take care of ourselves and love ourselves and hyper focus on doing for others and being kind to others, we might end up doing it at the expense of ourselves. Likewise, if we over-focus on loving ourselves and taking care of ourselves, we can end up doing that at the expense of our community and the world. As with everything, we need to find the balance that is right for us.
We say kindness matters, but is achievement trumping caring for others?
ABCNews reports on a recent study in this Are Parents Sending the Wrong Message? video. This study reveals 80 percent of kids said their parents value happiness and personal success more than being caring. They believe their parents want them to prioritize good grades over being a good person. Say what? Are they mutually exclusive? When it comes down to it, we have to make sure we are walking the walk.
Here is a video about what parents want for their kids that will leave you with a question you can ask your children. Their answer might be enlightening for you 🙂
Time to take intentional action that demonstrates that kindness matters
So, I ask, are you actually doing what it takes to raise kind and moral kids? When I did the Tiny Action I recommend below, for myself, I realized that I have not been paying enough attention to chores and responsibilities for my kids around the house, encouraging my kids to pay attention to and say hello to MY friends, and appreciating the “invisible” people who are in the community helping (the mailman for example). After you do the quiz I linked to in the Tiny Action below, post in the comments to tell us what you will focus on this week! Thanks 🙂
I’m advocating for a balanced approach – can our kids get good grades AND be good people? Absolutely!
TINY ACTION: Take this quiz to self-identify areas where you can pay attention in order to show that kindness is a priority for you to your kids. Pick one area and take action this week!