Friday, February 15, 2013

Kindness as Demonstrated By a Baby and a Toddler

I'm so excited to have Tabitha from Team Studer visiting, today.  She has incorporated kindness into her home the lives of her children.  It's hard enough to get through the day and do the simple things (like feed and bathe our children), but teaching them to love others is truly important.  I love Tabitha's story for us, today.

With two very young kids, it is sometimes hard to get them to stop eating the crayons – let alone make valentines for our elderly neighbor.  We occasionally struggle with the fact that our kids are still so young, at almost 3 years and 1 year, that developing any kind of understanding of kindness and being gracious to others seems like an idealistic stretch.  That doesn’t mean we’ve raised the white flag; we still act out kindness in front of them and spend a good portion of our day talking about being nice to each other and others .  However, our days still mostly consist of irrational (and seemingly endless) tantrums and lots of whining (oh goodness, the whining)!

But recently we had one of those moments – you know the kind that you catch and stop to think – ‘hmm, this seems like the perfect opportunity to step in’ (in the educational world, we call this a ‘teachable moment’).  Well, one of those popped up for us a few days ago on a morning that was dragging on forever with no clear sign of naptime in sight.

My son (3yrs) had decided that he was now done playing with the magnet book – which he had royally dumped all over the kitchen floor- and that his sister (1yr) also needed to be done playing with it as well.  I was loading the dishwasher nearby and told him to ‘clean up his magnets and then we’ll go play in the living room.’  I turn my back for one minute (said every mom, ever) and heard a smack followed by my daughter crying. 

Mom:  “What happened?”

Son:  “I hit her.”

Mom:  “Why did you do that?  She’s your baby sister, we take care of each other.”

Son:  “She’s touching them.  I can’t clean them up.”

Cue the lightbulb with the realization that our daughter loves handing objects to people and my son could use a little practice in patience. 

Mom:  “Gemmi likes helping.  Why don’t you hold out your hand and let her give you the magnets.  Then you can put them back in the book.”

Son:  “Okay.  Can you give me that, Gemmi?”

And then I stood there and watched while my very young kids worked together.   My one year old was helping someone else and my three year old was patiently waiting with his hand outstretched so that his baby sister could be involved.   It was a moment of pure, sweet, kindness towards each other. 

At the time, it would have been just as easy to tell them to separate from each other and we’ll clean it up later.  Or send him to timeout and scoop her up to go somewhere else.  But occasions for kindness are hidden everywhere – even for very young children.  And the more they practice – even the everyday kind of kindness – the more they will grow up to make it a piece of their values;  our family is kind to each other and to others.  This is how we will keep striving to grow in kindness as a family, even now as they are still so young.

Thanks, Tabitha! I love "teachable moments".

For more on how they've included acts of kindness into their home, check out Team Studer's 12 Months of Kindness.