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Kind Kids

I once heard a distinguished physician who ran a prestigious residency program in internal medicine tell a committee studying what undergraduate medical students should know when they graduate from medical school, “They should know how to take a history, do a physical examination, come up with a diagnostic and treatment plan, and do it all with kindness.”

Extrapolating to what we want our children to be able to do when they are on their own I think we want them to be able to take care of themselves, earn a living, enter into a committed relationship, and “do it all with kindness.”

How do we raise a kind kid?

• Treat the child kindly.
• Be sure the child sees us treat others kindly.
• Encourage the child to think kindly of himself or herself. Sometimes in our zeal to teach our children how to behave we find ourselves stressing the negatives. We must also accentuate the positive and make sure that a sensitive young child doesn’t conclude he or she is bad even though the behavior might be.
• Discourage those aspects of family life that increase self-absorption like TV, excess computer usage, consumerism. When we spend most of the time by ourselves, interacting with others at all (let alone doing it kindly) is less likely.
• Eliminate excess noise and slow down the pace of your family life so that you and the kids are not frazzled all the time. It’s harder to be nice when your jangled.
• Teach your children the value of thinking about others. If we only deal with ourselves and our needs it’s easy to lose sight of how blessed we are compared to many others in our community. Bring the kids when you drop food off at the Food Bank so they understand that people must help each other. Encourage your children to do community service they are able to do at school and at home. Make sure your child’s school has community service programs.
• Encourage sharing with those less fortunate. Take Halloween candy to a community center, have each child wrap a gift for a child who would not otherwise get a Christmas present. Have children set aside 10% of their allowance for charity.
• Talk kindly to each other in your home. Let your children see you react to rudeness with a kind word instead of a retaliatory retort.

Kindness is contagious. Infect a lot of people with it!

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