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Are you raising nice kids or mean kids?

Teach your children to be kind before someone else teaches them how to be mean. Being their example is your most powerful tool.
Gary and Joy Lundberg, FamilyShare Modified: August 6, 2014 at 6:05 am •  Published: August 11, 2014

Good parents want their children to grow up to be nice people. They don’t set out to raise a meanie. However, they may be inadvertently doing exactly that. What parents reinforce in their children is what they become. A news report of a study by the Making Caring Common project found that “About 80 percent of the youth in the study said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. The interviewees were also three times more likely to agree that ‘My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.’”

Parents need to pay attention to what they're putting their emphasis on with their kids. In this report Harvard Psychologist Richard Weissbourd said, “Instead of saying to your kids: ‘The most important thing is that you’re happy,’ say ‘The most important thing is that you’re kind.’”

Kids need to learn early that if they are kind to others they have a far greater chance of being happy. This short video shows a twelve-year-old being kind to another boy. Watch the happy expressions on both boys’ faces as a result of his actions. The boy who showed the kindness then gave a powerful message for parents. When asked by the reporter why he did it he said, “My mom and dad taught me that way, so it’s just kinda . . . like . . . natural.”

Making it natural

Here are 6 suggestions to help your children know how to treat others.

1. Treat your children kindly

If you have the habit of bossing your kids around all day like a drill sergeant you can expect that they may well do the same to others. Instead, when you want your children to do something, ask them politely. Such as, “Tommy, please hang up your coat on the coat rack.” When he does it, say, “Thank you. That helps keep our home neat and, also, it helps you to always know where to find your coat.” If he doesn’t do it, kindly help him do it right then so he knows you mean it, just don’t be mean about it. No yelling. And still thank him. Being kind teaches kindness.

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