Raising kids is hard. Raising kids to be kind is even harder. The advances in technology are wonderful for so many things, but they also bring additional challenges, especially for parents wanting to teach kids kindness and empathy.
Yes, I want my children to grow up to be capable and confident. I wouldn’t hate it if they were successful in their careers and family lives. But one of the things I want most for my children is for them to be kind.
I want them to show compassion for others and to be able to look outside themselves, for them to see a need and try to meet it or at the very least, to come alongside that person and show them that they are not alone.
Why teach kindness?
Nurturing our children’s character is one of our most important jobs as parents. There are benefits to our child as well.
Showing kindness to others boosts self-image. It enriches life. Social and emotional intelligence are just as important (if not more so) than academic intelligence.
As parents, there are a few obvious ways we can teach kindness to our children:
- model kindness
- teach gratitude
- talk about the feelings of others
- discuss the joy you get out of helping others
- be sure that your child knows that there are those less fortunate in the world
An effective way to teach kids kindness:
All the above ideas to teach kindness are necessary if you want your child to think outside of themselves, but there is one thing I have found that goes a step further and that is child sponsorship.
Child sponsorship is an activity the whole family can get involved in. In this world of cell phones and internet, although in some ways the world can feel like a small place, in others, it can be easy to feel disconnected. Sponsoring a child in a developing country can be a way to bridge that connection.
Some suggestions to make this activity even more meaningful:
- involve your child in the process of choosing the child you want to sponsor
- perhaps choose a child who is the same age as your child or the same gender or who has similar interests
- send letters back and forth to your sponsored child which will allow your child to make a connection and for them to learn more about them and about their country (not sure what to write. Read what to write to your sponsored child.)
- place the picture of your sponsored child in a prominent area in your home and talk about them or pray for them as a family
- allow your child to help in the money aspect – this can involve them selling some of their toys at a garage sale, donating some of their allowance or birthday money, or even them sacrificing going out for ice cream or fast food so that they money that would have been spent can instead go towards the sponsored child
- go as a family to meet your sponsor child – I know this option may not be possible for all people, but it really takes this experience to the next level as you are able to see firsthand the difference your support is making
Back in March, I was privileged to go to the Dominican Republic with an organization called One Child Matters. It is hard for me to put into words what my time there meant and how transformative it was for me. I fell in love with the community there and with the children that I spent time with.
But I also fell in love with One Child Matters and their heart for the people they serve. I will admit that I was somewhat skeptical going in. I didn’t know much about them or what they stand for. It didn’t take long for me to be blown away for the work they are doing there and around the world.
They don’t march into communities and assume that they have all the answers. They find well respected community members who are already working with children and partner with them. And then they ask what is needed for that particular community. It’s a smart model.
I wish I could have taken you with me so that you could have seen the need, looked into the faces of those who would benefit most from your sponsorship. The joy of the children contrasted so starkly with the tremendous poverty and conditions. But the work of One Child Matters there was already changing lives. We witnessed it.
Be the difference for one child today…
I’d like to bring you along on the journey and allow you to breathe in the smells and bear witness to the tears and the transformations. The best I can do is to invite you to take in some of the pictures and ask that you would consider if your family could help just one child.
Those of us who went on that trip have set a huge goal for ourselves to get 1,000 kids sponsored. When you hear such a big number, it sounds impossible, but not when you think about just one child. Would you help us by sponsoring just one child? Be the difference for one child today.
More stories from those who went on the trip:
What to Write to Your Sponsored Child – Teaching Mama
Why Meeting Your Sponsor Child is Worth the Time and Expense – Math Geek Mama
The Mother Teresa of Latin America – Preschool Inspirations