A long, drawn-out, thoughtful introduction and explanation of this post is really unnecessary. It is common knowledge that “good” people in this world, hold, at minimum, these two values: KINDNESS AND PATIENCE.
Kindness of heart, exemplified through benevolent behavior, compassionate words, and patience — patience in our relationships, our self-growth, and in our judgments about this world and the people in it.
I hold the opinion that, regardless of what other values you and your family hold close, you should always include kindness and patience, if you don’t already.
Modeling kindness and patience is not rocket science — it’s super simple and we should be doing it every day in all moments. Teaching children what constitutes kindness and patience, as well as when, where, and under what circumstances to express them is not challenging. But, for tired and worn parents, we may struggle to seek out or find opportunities for our children to learn them. Well, I have a solution. Let’s teach our children about both kindness and patience at the same time.
Here is a list of common, everyday ways to simply teach both kindness and patience to your child(ren):
- Let others go in front of you in line at the grocery store. This teaches your children how to put others first and be selfless. It also teaches them about showing respect to and for others, and models for them a way to exemplify to others that they are valuable. A lot of times, this type of behavior can be the catalyst for a “kindness chain” which continues on from one person to the next, as the day progresses. Additionally, letting others go first builds your child’s strength — yes, patience is a strength — and enables them to slow down and wait for what they desire. By letting others go first, your child is given the opportunity to relish more in the current moment, including taking their time to observe and learn from the people and experiences happening right in front of them. Listen, I know from experience, the last thing any of you (and I) want to do after a long grocery shopping exertion with kiddos in tow is to delay your return home to sanity any longer, but this is important. I am telling you — there is no possible way that you won’t feel better for doing something kind for someone else and your children will learn patience through your kindness — this is a win-win.
- Take your child fishing. There is a quote I once heard that read: “All you need to be a fisherman is patience and a worm.” When you take your child fishing you are teaching them that great things, like great catches, take time to receive — they have to be waited for, earned, and appreciated once received. How will your child learn kindness while fishing? Well, by respecting the rules of the water while they are fishing, and by returning any fish that should be returned to the water. Through fishing and your explanation of how good fisherman properly fish, your child will develop an understanding, respect, and kindness towards nature. And, if you are a person who is uncomfortable keeping any fish at all, then you catch-and-release, which is another way to exemplify for your child just how important it is for us to be kind to our world and everything in it.
- Wait in line for a ride. I know that nobody likes to do this. Heck, I don’t like to do this. But, that is because I need to work on my patience. That is why having to wait in a line is good for me and good for our children — it teaches us all to basically “chill the fudge out” and to stop rushing our life and the moments that make them up. So, how does having to wait in line for a ride, or for anything for that matter, teach kindness and patience? I will tell you. When we are required to stop and stand idly with others, we are ultimately forced to be in the presence of those that surround us in line. Being in such proximity to strangers for an extended period of time almost always has the effect of providing opportunities for us to observe and interact with one another. Unbeknownst to us, we may be standing next to someone in line who has different values from us, a different ethnic background and/or a different political opinion. You and your children will be given the opportunity to exude kindness in your words, thoughts, and judgments so that you do not offend those around you. Additionally, you will have to be patient with yourself and with others, as being in close proximity to numerous other people can cause anxiety. This is ultimately a really good exercise for learning to pretty much just be a decent human being towards other human beings
- Have your older child help a younger child. This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you have more than one child, provide opportunities for your oldest to help their younger sibling(s) with homework, activities, projects, games, self-care, etc. Your older child will be exhibiting kindness towards your little one, but at the same time he or she will have to exude patience, as their sibling may find some of the tasks challenging. Your younger child will be provided with opportunities to initiate kind behavior by mimicking the kindness that is being modeled to them by their older sibling. Both children will have to be patient as the older sibling tries, in different ways, to get through to the younger one. If your child is an only child, your child can help a younger cousin or friend.
- Take your child to a petting zoo. This, like fishing, will teach your child about kindness towards all creatures in this world. They will learn patience by the fact that some animals do not like to be spontaneously touched. Some need warming up to, and some need to feel comfortable and safe with your child first. This takes time and that is what your child will be required to give to the animal if they want to have a successful petting zoo experience.
- Take your child to visit their grandparents or great-grandparents. This is a fabulous opportunity to fill the buckets of some elders in your life, at the same time that you are educating your children. Your children will learn the importance of expressing kindness to others by spending time with them. At the same time, your child will likely have to exhibit some patient behavior with a family member who is likely just not living life at the same typical speedy pace as them.
- Help them plant something. Planting something, taking care of it so that it grows, and then maintaining it so that it stays alive can be a feat for anyone. By taking care of a plant and encouraging its growth your child will learn both kindness and patience. If they are too rough with the plant, too overzealous with the water, or don’t provide it with the space and sunlight that it needs, their plant will not grow — and neither will their level of kindness or patience.
This is just the beginning. This is just a start. This is just a preview of the daily opportunities that are available to us for teaching moments. Don’t let these teachable occasions pass you and your child by without taking full advantage of the learning opportunities they provide.
My sentiment is that a lot of us (not just children) could use a refresher course in how to be patient and kind; and maybe, just maybe, by working to raise our children’s level of kindness and patience, we will raise our own.