We all want the same thing as moms, for our kids to be kind. We want to raise the kids that include everyone, that sit by the kid that’s sitting alone, to think about others. But why is it SO hard to teach kindness in a way they understand and can show without prompting? Nicole Black, with Coffee and Carpool, is here to teach us strategies in teaching kindness so it becomes a habit and daily action in our kids’ lives.
Meet the Queen of Kindness, Nicole!
Mom of three, former elementary school teacher, and blogger, Nicole Black of Coffee and Carpool is a kindness expert and I knew I had to have her on the show! She’s one of those moms you look at and think…okay, that is how I want to be with my kids! One of her family’s core values is kindness and she works super hard in ensuring everyone is acting kind to themselves and others. After her daughter experienced intense bullying at school, Nicole made it her mission to start teaching kindness to ensure that we raise kind kids in the hopes it will change the trend of bullying running rampant through our society right now. She’s even been on Good Morning America talking about being inclusive, respectful and kind!
Funnily enough, the week I recorded with Nicole was one of my hardest parenting weeks. You know the times throughout your parenting life that you question why you decided to have kids and if it’s your fault they’re total monsters? Yeah, that kind of week! The kids were just being super ungrateful about everything, fighting and bickering constantly, not listening, you name it, they were doing it. So basically I was desperate for Nicole to teach me her ways!
Being Nice vs. Being Kind
One of the first steps in teaching kindness is defining what it even is. Many confuse kindness with being nice so teaching the distinction is important.
Being kind means giving to people (time, energy, money, help) and not expecting anything in return. Kindness is a verb, not a value we have. It’s how we talk, act, do. Kind people see a need a fill it because they want to add value and lift people up. Kindness feels good.
Nice can often come across as fake or insincere. It is not always selfless- a lot of time you are nice with an alternative motive.
Ask your kids- what does kindness feel like? Sound like? Look like?
When you see them acting kind (remember, it’s a verb!), point it out! Praise it, praise it, praise it and then connect an emotion to it. Because kids are naturally self centered, we can help them pinpoint the feeling they got from that act of kindness. “How did that make you feel?” “That must have made you feel very proud!”
Common Mistakes Parents Make When Teaching Kindness
- Not knowing the difference between nice and kind.
- Forcing our kids to be kind- we can’t force them to be kind, just like we can’t force them to eat, go to the bathroom or sleep
- We expect perfection
- Not filling out kids up with love enough in the way they want it
The goal: to act and speak with kindness more often than being prompted by us
Connecting with Our Kids on a Deeper Level
You can pour from an empty cup, we all know that as parents. Kids are the same. They need their basic needs met, and then they need to feel love.
Nicole calls these Proof of Love Activities.
The first step in this is pinpointing your child’s love language. Gary Chapman has an insanely beneficial book that has completely changed my marriage called the 5 Love Languages (definitely read it!) and also the 5 Love Languages of Children. And inside he breaks down the 5 different ways you show and like to receive love- words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, and gifts.
In what ways does your child like to receive love? How do they show love? Are they always giving you little gifts they made? Wanting to snuggle? Writing you notes/compliments? Helping? Find what that is and pour into it for that deeper connection. Kids need to feel and know they are loved beyond saying I love you to them.
When kids feel they are loved, it makes them see they are belonged, and understood and it helps them be able to act with kindness and give that love right on back to your family, friends, and kids at school.
Raising Kind Siblings
Make sure you have very clear expectations in your house.
Nicole’s two house expectations: first time listening and be kind (LOVE those)
Remember, with kids, you can’t say things one time and expect they to understand. These expectations need to be insanely consistent. We are trying to change behaviors, and that takes work and time. When kids have these moments of sibling drama- little digs, fighting over a toy, etc.- we step in. You stay calm, label the action as unkind and remind them that we act with kindness in the house. You can also say “I know that you’re a kind kid, but it looks like you forgot what that looks like”
These little things add up to create little tears in the sibling relationship. These are moments that need to be talked about, walked through, giving them words they need to help them work through that.
Teaching kids how to use and how to listen to the word stop is also crucial. They need that language and those sentences structures to use and reminders to respect them as well.
I asked Nicole about the power of working some of these things out vs. us always stepping in and I really loved what she said. First, they don’t know how to do this. It’s not something they’ve learned yet, so we need to teach them and give them the words, tools and strategies. Once they have some practice and have shown they can help, try stepping back a little and see what happens.
Nicole has a free download, 22 Sibling Tricky Moments, inside her Facebook group! She outlines the tricky situations siblings may encounter throughout the day (going in each other’s rooms, taking toys, getting in the car, etc.) and gives them language to use around the incident. Obsessed.
Your Kindness Action Plan to Start Today!
- What is your kid’s love language and how can you pour into that today? Make sure the connection between you and them is strong so they aren’t fighting for attention (often times battling for attention with their siblings)
- Setting the expectations for your family. Time to change somethings at home and outlining the new family rules and acting and speaking with kindness.
Nicole also has kindness conversation starters that can be talked about in family meetings, dinner table, in the car, etc. to start immersing them in these kind situations.
Telling them to be kind and hoping they will is not going to work.
CONNECT WITH NICOLE AND SAY HI!
Facebook Group: The Raising Kind Kids Movement: where you can find the sibling kindness help!
The Only 2 Family Rules You’ll Need (explanation of how it works and printables)
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Want to go into the next holiday with kindness on the mind? Download my free Elf on the Shelf Kindness Challenge cards to keep this kindness expectation going all year long!