Teaching Our Kids to Be Kind, and Mean It

by | Apr 23, 2020 | Parenting, Spiritual Growth

We work through various themes in our family. They seem to change about as often as the seasons and so, as we pack away our winter jackets and pull out flip flops, we also reevaluate what’s going on in our hearts and lives.

This season it’s all about kindness. Mainly because, there isn’t a lot of kindness going on.

I’m not a fan of simple behaviour modification with my boys. I know that it seems great in the moment. It’s nice to see my child say sorry to someone they’ve just hurt. My mama heart can swell with pride when I see a boy give up something they want for the sake of another. But all too often, it isn’t from the right heart.

On the outside they may look like little saints, but the truth is that my kids tend to be situation manipulators. They know that certain actions will get them exactly what they want. They know that being selfless in just the right moment can make their brother look really bad. They know that being generous can serve to boost their prideful hearts and bring the kind of human praise they desire.

They’re rotten little schemers, aren’t they?! (Don’t know where they learned that from!)

I desire to teach my boys that behaviour modification is never the sole answer. Yes, it may be required in a situation. 

Sometimes it’s right to give up something for someone else, even if our heart isn’t in it. However, I’d so much rather they learn to have a heart that IS in it!

That’s the tricky part. That’s where the endless work comes in. The constant conversations. The teaching every hour of every day because very rarely are children just kind and patient and generous all on their own. Think I’m wrong? Picture the last three or 13-year-old you spent time with and tell me how patient and selfless they were.

When it comes to matters of the heart, in our family, we focus on what scripture calls the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). These fruits are evidences of knowing that we are governed by Someone greater than ourselves. They are the tangible outworking of having a heart that loves Jesus and so desires to live in a way that is representative of the things He is (Galatians 5:22-23).

Don’t get me wrong, I want my kids to show love. Even more, I want them to recognize that the reason we show love is because of Jesus’ great love for us! That’s the game changer.

The word kindness, in the Bible, is actually χρηστότης. Yeah, I don’t know how to say that either, but I do know that it means;

  • Goodness and integrity
  • Fit for use
  • Virtuous
  • Manageable
  • Pleasant (as opposed to harsh and bitter)

Now, these are words and concepts I can explain to my boys! These are attributes we can desire, work towards, and pray about.

We can pray that our hearts would be pleasant towards people, that we wouldn’t use words that are harsh or angry. That we don’t hold onto wrongdoings or have an urge to lash back.

This led us to Proverbs 12:18 where it says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

When we speak to people unkindly it’s like thrusting a sword into them. It leaves wounds, hurt, sadness, and scars. I can ask my boys, “Is this who we want to be?”  

On the flip side, kind words and actions bring healing. They take the wounds that others left and bring healing to them. Our kids can be taught to see the hurts, the pain, and the sadness, and they can apply “medicine and bandage” them up. It’s like a stroke to one’s head telling them it’s going to be OK.

That’s what kindness is. It’s helping our kids understand what it looks like to be used by God to be healers to people’s wounds, through their words and their actions.

So, we’re working on that around here.

We’re talking about how the seemingly cool kids can sit around and make fun of people and huddle in little cliques and how that isn’t cool at all. Rather: 

  • Kindness is cool. 
  • Being healers instead of wounders is cool. 
  • Being ready for God’s use is cool.  
  • Being manageable is cool. 
  • Smiling at someone we don’t know is kind and cool.  
  • Chatting to that person who has no friends is healing to their wounds. 
  • Not joining in on harsh and judgemental talk is applying salve to a soul and that is beyond cool.

I pray that God continually changes our hearts to live out His way of kindness.

Because it really is that cool.