We all want our kids to grow into thriving and contributing adults. We want them to be happy and healthy. Successful. As parents, family, teachers, and guardians, we are given the enormous task of instilling values, and helping them start their life journeys on a sure footing.
It has become more important than ever to help kids see beyond their own self-interests—to know kindness. One of the most accessible things we can teach our children is compassion and empathy for all those they encounter, especially those who have different life experiences, opinions and positions.
How kids treat others matters to their everyday mental and, yes, physical health. How we and our children mold our world and future matters. Expressing kindness actually elevates the levels of dopamine (the happiness hormone) and oxytocin (the love hormone) in the brain. Dr. David Hamilton in his book, “The Five Side-Effects of Kindness” talks about the positive effects of expressing kindness on one’s body and level of self esteem.
Studies show that when kids were asked to perform three acts of kindness per week over a month, they saw immediate improvement on how the students felt about their own well being. Additionally, studies show that when kids are subjected to bullying from their peers, they suffer from mental and physical distress. Gardiner resident and cognitive psychologist LeeAnn Renniger, PhD, founder and CEO of Lifelabs Learning, and author of “Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected,” says, ”Teaching kids to ask more questions and wonder what someone else is thinking activates the empathy center of the brain, which gets built like a muscle over time. Kindness creates more kindness.”
So, kindness goes both ways. It’s good for others but also good for us; a most important lesson for kids to learn while they are young. If you need a little help in creating learning experiences for the kid(s) in your life, consider picking up best-selling, “I Walk wth Vanessa,” by Keroscoet or “Making A Difference” by Cheri Meiners, to name two. Lastly, consider joining a global community at www.randomactsofkindness.org/become-a-raktivist.
The world desperately needs the next generation to have strength, bravery, and most importantly, compassion. We can help them get there.