Back in January, I told you about an unexpected item on 9-year-old daughter’s Christmas list: “Donations to give to the animal shelter“. If you haven’t read the story, please pop over and do so because we’re 3/4 of the way to the next Christmas and I’m still beaming proud of her from last year. Go ahead and read it… I’ll wait.

Teaching kids compassion and kindness when they are young is virtue they'll carry with them as they get older. - SahmReviews.com

We had known for years that our daughter had extreme amounts of compassion. When she was playing soccer when she was only 5 or so, I remember how she would stop on the field to make sure someone who fell down was okay. She put people in front of winning. Then she started volunteering at the library before she turned 6. She told us that she wanted to be able to read to the little kids that didn’t know how to read yet.

Find volunteer opportunities for your children to be leaders while learning about kindness. Don't let their age limit you. - SahmReviews.com #StreamTeam

As she has grown, we’ve noticed these characteristics continue by her as well as her sister. We’re very proud of our kids and the decisions they make.

So how do we teach this to our kids?

First, we lead by example. When new neighbors move in, we make and deliver cookies. We introduce ourselves, leave our contact information and tell them which homes have children the same age as theirs. In short, we welcome them. Our kids have always been responsible for carrying the actual cookies. Involving them is key. Second, we show them examples. We point out things others do that is kind. Sometimes it is as simple as someone holding the door open for us. Other times it is acknowledging a helpful act like shoveling someone else’s sidewalk in the winter. Third, we provide opportunities for them to experience it themselves. Like the cookie delivery or helping a new student find their classroom. Of course, opportunities to donate or volunteer are a big help in driving home the point. Finally, we introduce them to shows that can teach the lesson in a fun (and subtle way). I loved watching Super Why with my girls when they were little.

Introduce kids to shows about kindness and acceptance. - SahmReviews.com #StreamTeam

Learning about kindness and acceptance isn’t just for the young. There are a lot of shows that drive the point home. Scott and I just started watching a new Netflix original called Derek. It’s referred to as a mockumentary-style comedy-drama. The setting is an elderly care facility and the main character is Ricky Gervais. I fully expected it to be a gut-busting show because everything that man creates is hilarious. Not this one… it’s thought provoking and I’ve cried at least once during each episode I have watched. Will I keep watching it? Absolutely. There are little phrases in each episode that resonate with me. In the first episode, Derek says something regarding character traits of kindness, being clever and being good looking. He explains that being a kind person is much more important than being clever or handsome. In another episode, an administrator asked Derek if he had ever been tested for Autism. Derek responded with “If I am ’tistic, would I die?” Derek asked if he would have to go to the hospital then the part that caught me off guard. “Would it change me in any way? Would I be the same person?” When the administrator responded, thinking Derek was just looking for reassurance about having the test, Derek responded with “Don’t worry about it then” and walked away. It was such a simple thought, such a simple question “Have you been tested for Autism?” yet the answers held so much weight. Derek has so much potential to teach lessons about kindness and acceptance; I hope the cast is able to move people with these stories.

The Netflix original, Derek, isn't like any other Ricky Gervais show! - SahmReviews.com #StreamTeam

Movies like Rudy, A Mile in His Shoes, Radio, Mulan to name a few along with shows like Good Luck Charlie and Glee. These have a variety of backstories that can appeal to a variety of people but the underlying message is always about kindness, compassion and acceptance.

Stories that entertain AND teach valuable lessons. - SahmReviews.com #StreamTeam

I’m proud to say that my kids are on the right track and I am certain these life skills will take them a long way. When you have developed the ability to think beyond yourself, see the good in others despite differences and help where you can, you’re bound to go far.

What ways do you encourage (or teach) compassion, kindness and acceptance from your kids, family or friends?

20 thoughts on “Can Kindness Be Taught? Yes.

  1. I think some people are just born kind. Then there are others who have to learn it. It sounds to me like you have a wonderful Daughter who cares about others and their feelings. You can’t raise a kid any better than that. Kudos to you and Scott!!!

    1. Awww. Thank you for your kind words, Terry. We do our best to provide opportunities and set a good example but she’s a great kid (yes, slightly biased response). There are even things that she teaches (and reminds) me!

    1. Thanks, Jeanne. We’re definitely proud. She just celebrated her birthday and once again requested items for the animal shelter. I’m anxious to hear what she decide to do for Christmas!

    1. You’re absolutely correct. Parents are the starting point. While other influential people (like teachers, clergy, coaches) can aid in the journey, it is up to a parent to emphasize these lessons at home.

  2. I have a daughter with Autism and her kindness has not always been front and center. My older daughter, however, is very much like your daughter. Mine is now 16 and is one of the most kind hearted persons I know.

    The first time I saw Derek, I cried too. And the line you quote blew me away! However, while it was a perfect answer for the character, knowing about a disorder or mental illness can mean life saving help to a young child or her parents. So, while I LOVED his answer, it just doen’t work for everyone like that.

    1. Thank you for the reply, Jenn. I’m glad to hear that your 16 year old is kind-hearted and am sure your younger daughter is as well.

      Glad to know I’m not the only one who cries watching the show! I agree that knowing about issues can be a matter of life/death but in his case, I took it as though “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Or in other words, just because someone asks if someone has Autism doesn’t mean they have a right to know the details. At least that’s how I took it. 🙂

  3. Very sweet! I’m teaching my son about kindness by taking him to welcome home our Troops at our local airport. It’s great to see the smiles on their faces when they come back to a country full of appreciative Americans.

    1. What a great idea, Ashley! Kudos to you for teaching your son about how important our troops are! We have honor flights here and I’ve wanted to take my girls to welcome them home. Unfortunately, the flights don’t land until late in the evening – well past their bedtimes. We do teach them to approach military in uniform and tell them “Thank you for serving our country.”

  4. It is so true that demonstrating kindness and involving your kids in the process is the perfect way to lead by example. You’re doing an amazing job! This show is on my Netflix queue.

  5. The best way to teach compassion and giving is through modeling that behavior. Kids pay more attention to what you do then you think.
    Thanks for sharing about the Derek with Ricky Gervais. I have never heard of it but now I want to watch it.

  6. We all can be taught compassion and practice it. Around here there is donation can for some one. I know a lady who made dish rags and gave a bottle dish soap to the neeedy at holdidays.

    Coffee is on

  7. Thank you for being such a good parent! Compassion and kindness are the most important qualities to me and I love that your daughter has such a sweet spirit towards animals.

  8. I think some people seem to find it comes more natural to them to be kind, but a lot must have to do with the way you’re brought up. If your parents are kind, and teach you to be the same, that it’s an important and desirable attribute then you’re much more likely to be kind yourself. I don’t consciously teach anyone to be anything, but I do aim to be kind and compassionate myself, and hope that perhaps others will follow my example…treat others as you wish to be treated…your children sound fabulous by the way!

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