There is an old English proverb that says “Kindness begets kindness” and it is no truer than when applied to parenting. Children brought up with kindness will exhibit the same in their own lives, be more empathetic and compassionate but they will also have greater chance of success and happiness.
Why? Kindness breeds kindness. As with adults, if a child is treated kindly, they will mimic and copy the same. But what is kindness and how does it have the capacity to operate so forcefully so as to make such a big difference to a child’s outcomes.
The dictionary definition of kindness is “the practice of being or the tendency to be sympathetic and compassionate” or “an act that shows consideration and caring”. Being kind means a dedication to understanding, to respect and to acceptance. It is about positivity and lasting healthy impressions.
Take the smacking debate as an example. Children who are smacked are taught to be aggressive, they show a greater tendency to act out the violence shown to them, exhibit more challenging behaviours, have lower IQs and reduced wellbeing. Taking the inverse of each of these statements, children who are parented in a kind atmosphere of understanding and empathy with patience will be less aggressive, be kinder to others, behave better, have higher IQs than their smacked counterparts and healthier outcomes.
Children who experience kindness will trust and trust is key to a child’s development. If they trust they will take risks, absorb new experiences, excel and exceed and know that they are supported. That is not to say that children don’t need firm and clear boundaries and rules but the way in which they imparted is key to a positive outcome.
Children need consistent, fair, integral and stable values and standards. Such resources encourage them to be kind, considerate, selfless, generous, extraordinary, caring and supportive themselves. They do not need to carry the bag of hard-knocks and learn the tough lessons of life per se but instead be bought up with these maxims to be stable, secure and thus resilient to everything the world throws at them. To survive in this world the way forward is to parent with love, kindness and compassion, understanding and respect showing them the side of the coin that will always stay shiny and unblemished. Not that they won’t come across all the spite out there in this big bad world but so that they will always want to look for the good, to harness peace and to realize love and be driven by these credentials. If we seek we shall find.
A bit like a good meal – feed your children with kindness and vitality and they will go on to be energized by exactly that. Feed them – rot and well we all know what an unhealthy diet does to us in the longer term!