October 25, 2016

Kindness is Not Perfection

So thankful for Kendall's words about kindness this week. Her insights on being kind, not just to others, but to herself is such a great reminder for us parents! However, what struck me the most about our conversation is this notion of perfection. Oftentimes, kindness is misconstrued as this neat little gift we must give to others--tied up in a bow with the most elegant ribbon. Kendall shows us this isn't necessarily so; that kindness shouldn't be a way to perfection, but rather a path to grace and humility.

Tells us the kindest thing you’ve ever experienced as a parent.
Every time I receive a thoughtful card or message or the occasional just because gift from my mother-in-law or my own family showing that they care and they notice all that I do for my family.

Who/what inspires you to be kind? Explain why they/it inspires you to do so
The world inspires me to be kind.  There's so much negativity, hatred, abuse, and struggle in the world - whether my neighborhood or the broader society - and I believe kindness stems from humility while spreading love and joy.  All of these things I believe the world needs more of.  

It’s important to be kind to others, but it’s just as important to be kind to yourself. What do you do (or plan on doing) to be kind to yourself (either as a mother, as a professional, or as a woman)?
I continue working on ways to express myself as a mother, wife, and woman.  I do my best to take time for myself daily to pursue goals, be creative, and care for my body.  At times, I will even carve out time for myself just to be, leaving Hun to care for the children alone.

It’s often said that kindness is easier said than done. As a parent, what valuable advice can you give for showing kindness to others (especially to those who may not seem like they want or deserve it)?
I believe in extending kindness no matter what.  I believe that kindness is not only preceded by humility, but also grace.  By expressing kindness to myself and my family, I'm passing along this belief in kindness towards others.  I'm not perfect and striving for perfection doesn't aid me in being kind, so I leave that behind more often than not.  I also believe that my wanting to be kind towards others doesn't mean that someone's unwillingness or inability to receive that kindness is an affront to my efforts.  In other words, being kind to others is not a competition, nor is it about acceptance from others.  Kindness comes from the heart.

As a parent, what does kindness mean to you?
Kindness is sharing, giving, listening, supporting, and loving others where they are.  Sometimes that might be more difficult than others, yet that difficulty isn't a reason to not express kindness.  Again, kindness is also humility and grace.  It's knowing and being willing to admit mistakes, work to correct them, and move forward.  It's also recognizing that my position isn't better or worse than anyone else, and vice versa.  Kindness is love and honor, dignity, and respect.

What lesson do you want your kids to learn about kindness?
I want my children to learn all these things about kindness.  I also want them to see that kindness towards self is just as important as kindness towards others.  I want my children to believe for themselves that kindness is a way to get through life amicably with others.  Kindness can happen even as they strive for their definition of greatness.

October 20, 2016

Shine Blog Hop 119

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October 18, 2016

5 Children's Books that Teach Kindness (Part 1)

So happy to welcome Jenn for a guest post today. She's a fellow blogger who just so happens to be a teacher, like me. Today, she's helping spread the word on kindness by recommending some great reads to teach our children (students or otherwise) about the value of being kind to each other. So read on to find some good reads to add to your library. (PS: If you're looking for books for the upper level-grades,  Jenn has more recommendations coming in November)

Finding common ground among our children is crucial for our future, and it’s the key theme over at my blog, Meaningful Connections. We live in a world that is more connected than ever—yet record numbers of our children are suffering the pain of bullying and isolation. As the school year gets underway, it’s critical to reinforce the importance of being good to others. It’s also important to help kids avoid the role of victim should they cross paths with bullies. Here is a list of books to get students talking about kindness.

You Are Special, by Max Lucado, illustrated by Sergio Martinez.

Lucado teaches an important lesson to students in Kindergarten through fifth grade about caring for oneself regardless of what other people think. His Wemmicks, special wooden people, spend their days placing colored stickers on each other. Talented, pretty Wemmicks get stars, but the mediocre among them get gray stickers. Poor Punchinello is covered with gray circles. He feels terrible until he notices a young girl Wemmick with no stickers. She directs Punchinello to visit Eli, the woodcarver. Eli teaches him that dots and stars mean nothing when Wemmicks realize that they are special just as they are. The spiritual overtones of this picture book are subtle enough that some school counselors use this story in their classroom lessons on bullying

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud, illustrated by David Messing.

McCloud’s famous picture book has been shared in elementary schools Kindergarten through fifth grade around the country to teach kindness. Through the story, children can imagine that each person has an invisible “bucket” that can be filled with kindness or emptied by hurtful words. Kids often don’t realize the effect their words and actions have on others. This book helps provide a concrete example to help children think about the power in their deeds.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

This picture book does not have a happy ending, which makes it all the more powerful. A young girl named Chloe is unkind to Maya, a new student, and excludes her. By the time Chloe thinks about the consequences of her actions and wishes to make a change, Maya is gone. Chloe never has the chance to make things right with Maya. This book will give elementary students a lesson on kindness, consequences, and regret.

Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Rodney Rat has a speech impediment, and the other rodents in his class make fun of the way he says his R’s. When Camilla Capybara enters the class and declares herself bigger and meaner than all the others, Rodney surprises everyone by putting her in her place. This story reminds children eight and under that everyone is deserving of respect.

My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems

This Elephant and Piggie book by the acclaimed author of Knuffle Bunny and the Pigeon books explores friendship and kindness as Piggie does everything she can to try and cheer up her friend. This book is a great conversation starter with younger elementary students eight and under about what good friends do for each other.

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