“When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us.”
—Titus 3:4 (ESV)
At Christmas, we celebrate God’s great love for us, which is beautifully shown through the gift of a precious child who became our Savior. We are richly blessed—so how can we share that love with those around us? By giving the gift of kindness and teaching our children to do the same!
Kindness grows, so cultivate it. Scientific studies show that children as young as 1 year old can begin to show kindness to others—and the earlier these attitudes are learned, the kinder children become. Teach children to recognize and appreciate what others do for them. Encourage them to help with small tasks, such as cleaning up after themselves, and larger things, such as cooking a meal for an elderly neighbor. As children begin to understand what it means to give and receive kindness, their kindness will grow.
Kindness is contagious, so spread it. Learning happens in the most powerful ways when children are encouraged to discover something for themselves. So, rather than telling your children to be kind, model kindness. Smile often, give encouragement and compliments freely, offer assistance without expecting praise, and treat others as you want to be treated. Be intentional about expressing gratitude, and, whenever possible, respond to challenging situations with peace and love. When children see and receive kindness, they will begin to understand its value and practice it in their own lives.
Kindness is a blessing, so celebrate it. It may seem that rewarding or praising children for kindness would be the best way to encourage kind behavior. But scientific studies show that kindness is its own reward—it makes us happy! Kindness increases children’s attention spans, encourages their creativity, and decreases their stress. Kindness causes children to see themselves and others in more positive ways. Kindness also helps children to develop strength, courage, and resilience, and it makes them more hopeful. When children do something kind, encourage them to think about how kindness makes them feel. Soon you may find that your home or your classroom is a happier and healthier place to be for everyone!
So, this Christmas, celebrate the amazing love you have received by sharing the gift of kindness. And thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!