Guest Blogger: Melanie Nichols
This March, we are sharing a special series of blog posts from Melanie Nichols. This series was originally posted in February 2021. You can find Melanie and her blog here. If you would like to submit to our blog, please email us.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa
Kindness is one of the most powerful forces for good in our world. It is all the different ways we express care, concern, and consideration for ourselves and those around us. As loving parents and teachers, it is imperative that we treat our kids and ourselves with kindness. Being kind to our children and others is not the same as allowing all behavior in our homes and classrooms, nor does it mean not standing up for ourselves and our needs and beliefs. Yet even in times of disagreement or correction, every interaction we engage in can be approached with kindness. So what does this look like in our day-to-day lives?
Kindness can come in many forms. Encouraging words and positive non-verbal communication are two ways we can frequently show kindness to the children in our lives. Sharing our resources – time, money, goods, and knowledge – is another way of being kind to others that we can model and also encourage our kids to do. Acknowledging our children’s interests, feelings, thoughts, and wishes and allowing them to differ from ours, models an important way to be kind to others even when we disagree. When difficult situations arise and emotions are high, pausing our own reactions to understand the other perspective is also a great act of kindness and an important one to model for our students. Modeling these and other acts of kindness lays a valuable foundation for our children.
Being kind to others has benefits for us as well. According to an article on Cedars-Siani (link below), acts of kindness increase our brains’ oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin levels. Oxytocin is tied to feelings of trust and generosity, as well as lowered blood pressure. Dopamine gives us a sense of euphoria and serotonin helps regulate mood. These benefits are short-lived, though, so kindness should be frequent – a regular occurrence in our day. When we treat our kids, ourselves, and others with kindness, we are quite literally programming our brains to be happier and healthier.
“It’s one thing to be taught kindness. It’s another thing to be touched by it.” Kindnessiseverything.com (link below) sums up the importance of kindness to our children. Children who are treated with kindness by their parents and teachers will, in turn, learn to treat others with kindness. “There is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no end.” – Scott Adams. There may be no better way to change the world than to teach and raise kids who know firsthand the immense power of being kind.
Cedars-Sinai Science of Kindness