Rule #21: Be kinder than you have to be.

“Be kinder than you have to be.” It’s such a simple but impactful idea, to be kinder than you have to be. In reality, we don’t have to be kind at all. We can choose to be unkind. And we can choose to be kind. Our choices and acts of kindness (or unkindness) are more intentional than we realize.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are many times I have to be intentional about being kind. Just this past week, I was annoyed with a driver who demanded that I give them the right away. Then, as they were backing out of the parking spot, they proceeded to nearly run into my car. I did my best to wait patiently, be kind, and to keep my annoyance in check.

Even as you’re reading this, chances are that I’m needing to be intentional about showing kindness to my daughters. I often lose patience with them and become easily frustrated, especially if I’m having to remind them to do something for the millionth time. I so often remind myself that they are only 7, 5 and 3 years-old girls. They need to see me model kindness even when I am frustrated. Thanks, parenthood.

I do my best to be kind. My girls need to experience kindness. I want them to see kindness all around them. And I want them to be kind human beings.

I also want them to know that being kinder than you have to be will get you a lot further in life. Being kind is contagious. And being kind makes a positive impact on the people and world around us.

Teaching kindness to kids

So how do I teach my girls how to be kind? Here are 10 simple ways that our girls learn to “be kinder than you have to be” through simple acts around the house and in public:

1. Pick up trash on the ground and throw it away.

Our neighborhood isn’t that dirty. But there are plenty of times that a piece of trash blows into our yard or litter is on our streets. When we walk by trash, I encourage the girls to help me pick up the trash and throw it away. It’s such an easy way to teach them to be kind to our earth and community.

2. Say hello to people we walk by.

It’s easy to pass by a stranger without saying hi, am I right? By teaching my girls to say hello to everyone, they are learning that all persons matter and deserve to be acknowledged.

3. Hold the door open for the person behind you.

Recently, my girls and I were leaving a restaurant. An older woman with a cane was in front of us. I quickly opened the door for her and had BW hold the second door for her. Although I had to tell BW to hold the door, hopefully this will teach her and my other two girls this simple act of kindness.

4. Say please and thank you.

The day my girls master saying these simple phrases is the day I retire from motherhood! I remind my girls to say “please” and” thank you” at all times, even if I’m annoyed that I have to remind them yet again. The world and those in the service industry do not hear enough “please” and “thank you.”

5. Turn off the lights.

Sure, turning off the lights will save on electrical bills. But really, turning off the lights is an easy way to teach the girls about caring for the earth and the limited resources we have. Just call me a tree hugger.

6. Mail a card or picture to a family member.

My girls love surprising Grammy and Grampy and Auntie Kellyn with cards! Plus, my girls love drawing and writing stories. This is an easy act of kindness for my three littles.

7. Donate toys that we no longer need or play with.

This is not so easy for my girls! I can still remember the first time I tried to get rid of the lovey SW used as a baby. She hadn’t used it in months, but it was at the top of the donate pile. And of course, she saw it! Where is it now?It’s still in our house, being used as a blanket for baby dolls. But I try to have the girls give away toys they no longer play with or have outgrown. Let’s be real- I often just give them away myself!

8. Prepare a meal for a friend.

When the girls came home with us 2.5 years ago, the meals we were given were everything! I’ve recently started connecting with other new moms to provide them meals. The girls help prepare and deliver these meals with me when they can.

be kinder than you have to be cook with kids

9. Write a thank you note.

The Bible says that we should forgive 70 x 7 times. But I believe that we should also thank people just as often! When the girls receive gifts, I have them write thank you notes to friends and family. We may not always have time to do so, but I try my best to be intentional about writing thank you notes!

10. Do extra chores around the house.  

This is one the girls came up with all on their own! One day, before Chris arrived home, the girls decided to surprise him by cleaning up the house. They put away all their toys, folded blankets in the living room, cleaned up the kitchen, and made their beds. How do I get them to surprise Daddy every day?

Those are 10 simple ways I teach my kids about kindness. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth teaching my girls to be kind. If you have kids, how do you teach your kids to be kinder than they have to be? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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