My friend and mentor, Stephanie over at Quirkyblogger, is running a kindness challenge in one of her Facebook groups. Each day, Steph posts something (hopefully) easy and tangible and meaningful that can help build a little kindness for us and around us. I am 100% for it – especially within these 10 Days of Awe – and am looking forward to the upcoming days in her kindness challenge.
As an extension of that, I started to think about kindness in my own home. Now that school has started back up, our days just feel frenetic. A little off. Our mornings are rushed and frequently tense. Our afternoons just feel like a series of to-do lists: after-school activities, dinner, homework, bath, pajamas, bed, fall asleep, wash, rinse, and repeat. I could argue that this shortened time together is just a tense bubble, and that bubble doesn’t really leave a lot of time for kindness and compassion and joy.
However, when I step back for a moment, I realize that this bubble is the exact time for kindness and compassion and joy.
Look, our days are over-crowded with stuff and things and tasks and busyness, and it can feel really daunting to squeeze one more thing to do… but I’d like to believe that when we make a conscious effort to include kindness and compassion in our days, it seeps in and permeates the other things that we do.
One kind thing in this moment can lead to another kind thing the following moment. And the next. And the next.
So, as part of this challenge, I’m taking another step further and thinking about kind things I can do each day with my kids to help teach them kindness and compassion. I try really hard to not dole out empty praise with my children, and I try to catch them doing things like being kind or compassionate or mindful.
And, goodness gracious, it can be really easy to find these things.
But other times, my own mishegoss keeps me from finding the kindness and compassion out there in my family and in the world.
My personal challenge, then, is to find the best time to focus on kindness within my family and with my kids. And almost instantaneously, the time that first popped into mind was during our bedtime routine.
One of my favorite things to do with my kids is read with and to them. Even on the days that I want to just plow through this part of our routine, there’s a part of me that still loves, craves, and cherishes the connectedness it brings us at the end of the day.
Unsurprisingly, books have also provided some great jumping off points for conversations, and my children are keen to talk about some of the more salient points either as they drift off to sleep or on our drive to school the following morning.
Which, to be fair, deep conversations with children are best when you’re armed with coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
Caffeinated or not, I’ve looked through our personal library and through some other resources, and I’ve compiled the following 5 books for kids to help teach kindness and compassion.
5 Books for Kids that Help Teach Kindness & Compassion
1. Words are Not for Hurting. One of my goals as a parent is to equip my children with the life and coping skills to help them navigate the real world. Part of that comes with the trying task of helping to teach why we do or don’t do things (admittedly, it can be so much easier to reply “Don’t do it because I said so!”). Words are Not for Hurting helps to teach kids that they are responsible for what they say and do… and that sometimes their words and choices can negatively affect others. I’ve often turned to this book when we’ve said something that might be unkind or rude and used this as a tool to help us come back around to choosing words that are helpful and kind towards others.
2. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. I first heard this book during my daughter’s library time, and I instantly loved it. The book talks about an “invisible bucket” that we all have, and when we have good thoughts and feelings or do kind and compassionate things, we can fill our own and others’ buckets. I also love that the book works to take away the stigma of badness when we make choices that might take a little out of another person’s bucket. Kids internalize negative comments about themselves, and they tend to manifest those negative thoughts as they’re “not good enough.” I really like that it talks about it being a choice that you can “comeback” from rather than an end-all-be-all sentence.
3. Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler. One day, Mrs. Ruler decides that her class will have a new rule: Kindness is cool! Each child in her class will perform five acts of kindness, and they tally them up on the bulletin board. Spoiler alert: there are soon so many, the board is overflowing with kindness! I love that this book helps to bring home the message and idea that, if we’re all kind together, amazing things can happen. Plus, there’s a list of 100 acts of kindness at the back of this book that can help inspire kids and grown-ups to put kindness into action.
4. Horton Hears a Who. This is easily one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books for kids. Quite literally, Horton saves an entire world through his kindness and compassion! He believes in the Whos, hears their voices, stands up for them, and is a wonderful advocate and ally for the Whos. Add on top of that, he does all of this while others are telling him he’s nuts! Horton is a wonderful example of being kind and compassionate and doing what’s right even in the face of angry adversity.
5. The Giving Tree. In another familiar story, this Shel Silverstein classic tells the story of a boy and a tree who love each other deeply, but the boy takes and takes and takes from the tree until the tree is just a stump. And even then, the tree gives of itself as a resting place for the boy (who has now grown into an old man), and the two rest and sit together. I love this because, while it does speak to the on-going kindness of the tree, it also teaches that we must remember to be kind to ourselves. It is possible to give too much, and we need to value and honor ourselves in our kindness and compassion.
There are so many other great books out there, and I’m certain I missed a couple! Which books would you add to the list? Tell me below!