Happy Monday, Lovelies! I hope that you all had amazing weekends & that your day is going well. Today we’re bringing Tara Wagner into our tribe, and let me tell you about her — she’s really awesome. Her & her family are traveling around the country in Benny the RV & unschooling. Tara’s introduced me to so many new ideas, I’m really thankful to have her as a teacher. Oh, and she also just created a photography shop, which you should totally check out! She is an incredibly talented photographer, yes. Ok, so onto her post! A pretty day to each of you. – Jenn
Kindness Cultivates Kindness
Kindness, generosity, compassion…the words evoke such emotion. They signify a way of being, reacting and seeing the world and those within it. They have the power to transform, encourage, and inspire.
Kindness feeds us, helps us grow and infects us with the same. It creates a cycle of endless gratitude and unconditional love. It’s a flame that melts our hearts and lights our darkness.
Is it any surprise that kindness is the key ingredient to caring for the smallest of souls?
Sadly I’ve seen kindness to children too often go unshared. Not because we don’t believe it matters; we all know it matters. But simply because we forget.
We forget what it’s like to have smaller legs and more curious minds. We forget what it’s like to learn by touching or tasting, or how intimidating big folk feel towering over us or losing their patience. But most of all, we forget that children are real people, with their own minds, desires, experiences and needs.
Whether your own child or the little boy next door, it’s our job to protect, build up and share kindness with all children. Our interactions as parents, caregivers, grocery store clerks or friends will impact a young person’s view of the world for a very long time to come.
Kindness is not a value which can be taught or lectured into a young person. It must be experienced firsthand. Here are the most important ways to share that experience with our children:
- Slowing down: In our fast-paced world it’s easy to forget that children have their own pace and it’s often not the same as ours. It’s so important to slow things down and follow a child’s lead, without rushing them through their days. Help them inspect the spiderweb that caught their eye, listen and answer their inquisitions about how the grocery register works, plan extra time into getting out the door or transitioning from one moment to the next and above all, allow for large chunks of unscheduled time to play together at his or her favorite thing. For children, play equals life and an invitation to share in that play is a most precious gift of kindness from them to us.
- Listen and validate: All children have a voice and just like ours, that voice needs to be heard. Their experiences and opinions are important to their happiness and empowerment now and in the future. Whether they’re expressing their dislike of broccoli or their desire to play at the park well into the evening, their autonomy in making choices needs the validation of the adults in their life. Support his choice to wear a tutu and a Superman cape to the bank, follow her suggestions for what to make for dinner and validate their emotions when the world overwhelms them. Find ways to work with children’s choices, instead of insisting they always work with ours.
- Assume good intent: All people do the best they can with the tools they have. And kids especially have a deep desire to contribute to the world in a positive way. But whether due to fatigue, loneliness, hurt, lack of understanding or something else, we all sometimes lack the ability to express our true intentions. When we assume our kids really meant well, but simply didn’t have the ability to express that intention, our perspective changes from “How dare they…” to “How can I help them…” That tiny little change in perspective helps us to view our children through a softer lens, looking deeper than their actions to find their true needs and meet those needs with kindness and compassion.
- Create a world that includes them: It’s difficult for a two year old to understand a world he can’t touch or taste. It’s impossible for an eight year old to contain her excitement or energy for long. And it’s frustrating for an adolescent to feel judged, limited or mistrusted by the world around them. Sometimes necessary and many times not, there are places where kids and teens are discouraged from play or self-expression. And in all cases it’s simply not fair for anyone to spend so much time not being themselves. It’s our job to seek out positive experiences, relationships and environments in which they can feel included and thrive, a world they can enjoy without a constant barrage of Should Not’s, Cannot’s and Must Not’s. It’s equally important to avoid unnecessary exposure to the alternative. There are so many inevitable No’s in life that we’ve found it important to create a world in which we can say Yes as often as possible.
Kindness cultivates kindness. A person – child or adult – abundantly filled with loving generosity will naturally overflow those same gifts into the world around them.
The more seeds of kindness we can lace into the experiences of the children in our lives, the more opportunities we create to grow and increase such kindness in our world.
|Tara Wagner is a mom, wife, photographer and writer, as well as a mindful parenting and unschooling coach. She and her family live full-time on the road, traveling organically and learning passionately while applying the principles of Love, Trust, Kindness and Passion to their whole life. You can find her blogging authentically about parenting, traveling, unjobbing and more at http://theorganicsister.com.