Kindness

If you have children or have worked with or been around them for extended periods, you know they do and say some pretty interesting things. There are massively popular threads that deal with wild things kids have said. “Kids Say The Darndest Things” ran as a segment on Art Linkletter’s radio show “House Party” and television show “Art Linkletter’s House Party” from 1945 to 1969, then again 1998 to 2000 on CBS as a stand-alone show hosted by Bill Cosby. There have been musicals about kids saying “the darndest” things, and other countries have countless television programs about the wild and out there things that children say and do. However, most people don’t really listen to what kids are saying; sure, there are laughs, surprised gasps, and “aww” moments, but at the end of the day the majority of these “darndest things” that children say are passed off as novelty and cuteness. That’s a shame, because there are sparkling pearls of wisdom we could all learn from scattered among the sands of a child’s mind.

The other day, a young student said “people should all be nice to each other.” Absolutely, I agree, we as human beings should all be nice to one another. It’s a simple, obvious statement–one that we as adults seem to have completely forgotten. Normally, that kind of statement would be passed off as adorable yet naïve; sure, it would be great if we were all nice to one another, but that’s just not how the world works, right? Why not? We always tell children – in school, at home, in sports and at camps – that being kind is the right thing to do, and treating people with respect is proper moral and ethical behavior. So why don’t we practice what we preach more often? If we were all kind to one another, even if we disagreed about something, the world would be a happier, healthier, safer place. Unfortunately, somewhere between five and thirty five we forget how to act with respect. We forget how to be kind. We get so wrapped in money, work, stress, life, ourselves, that we forget how easy and how important kindness is and how.

A couple weeks ago, our Juniors class weekly theme was “kindness to others.” The homework assignment, was for students to draw or write and example of how they like to be treated kindly. From someone helping to pick up something that was dropped, to playing basketball together, to having someone hold open a door, all the children proposed different ideas that had one thing in common: they were easy to do. It takes very little effort to say “thank you” to the barista at Starbucks after you purchase your extra shot. Holding the door open for someone behind you when you exit or enter a store takes an extra second of time. “Hi” is a one syllable word that surely can be spared here and there daily. Kindness can, as children often show us, be an easy thing to accomplish.

Now, I know there are horror stories about “difficult” or “bad” children. And yes, it is true that not everyone – even children – are always kind. Children can be selfish, cruel, and there are bad apples in the bunch. But here’s a fun fact: most negative behavior children exhibit is learned from adults, other children at school (who guess what, learn it from adults), or from abuse and trauma (which again comes from adults), or from television (created by adults). See a pattern here?

We always tell children to be kind, to be respectful, to be nice. It’s time that we practice what we preach. The best way to lead is by example, and with the world the way it is now, we need to set a better one. At TWE we believe not only in setting good examples for our Junior students, but in teaching them how they can be an example to others as well. Take some time out of each day to be kind, and show the next generation how they can change the world with kindness.