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Epiphany

Teaching kindness in an unkind world

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I have come to learn that we basically live in an unkind world. And I am learning that I cannot shield my sensitive little guy from this forever, but boy wouldn't it be nice? He is six and he has basically been surrounded by people who love him and care about him, so he has experienced kindness in a lot of his life. He has learned harsh life lessons through injuries and illness, but his interactions with other human beings has generally been positive. We have been lucky. He has a great couple of neighborhood buddies who are generally good kids whose parents teach their children to be kind in word and action as well. However, as he gets older and more involved in things, I am noticing that most kids and for that matter most adults are not so thoughtful.

I don't expect his life to be light and unicorns. I want him to understand the nature of people. I want him to eventually get that there is violence, war, injustice and just plain ignorance around us. I guess it's time to start these lessons because he is seeing it already. If he stops in the middle of a game or sport to help a fallen friend or teammate, he has been teased or reprimanded. He has been laughed at for carrying my bag for me, mostly because it's a "girl" bag and he's a boy. I'm just not ready for his skin to be thickened and calloused so soon. I want him to further develop his own sense of self. We talk about this often, that everyone does things differently and that it's okay to be himself. But he's human, words hurt, hands hurt, and how do I teach him to be himself, hopefully not by lashing back with hurtful words or actions, but also to stand his ground without being walked all over.

I have been disappointed in some of the people around us who I expect more tolerance from, who I expect to correct their kids when they are unkind, but I am finding that I can only control what happens in my own house. And I know that I cannot shield him forever, or he'll end up being one of those weird, pale, unsocialized "homeschool kids". I know that the greatest thing I can do is to lead by example, to be kind yet strong in the face of the unpleasant, and to teach him justice issues at an early age. I think that justice training may be the answer. Be fair, be aware, and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. From a proactive standpoint, I can avoid those people who are the life-sucking negative types and whose kids follow their lead. I can have expectations for him and guide him through the pitfalls along the path of meeting those expectations.

One of our problems is that he gets all itchy when we start talking about feelings or anything deeper than who's got the best light saber in the Star Wars movies. I've still got to work on that.
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Comments

  1. Solong's Avatar
    You could look into resources in Nonviolent Communication. I've been researching this myself for dd9. There is a book/workbook combo called 'Giraffe Juice', but I can't find an independent review on it yet. If you know of anything in this area (or find something), I'd love to hear about it!
  2. Epiphany's Avatar
    I just put a call out to the wise and wonderful people on my facebook feed, and this book was suggested to me...How Children Succeed by Paul Tough. I just checked it out of the library, but is about character building as opposed to cognitive skill building for resiliency etc. Hoping to get some good info there. I do plan to keep exploring too. Am interested to know if you find anything as well.
  3. Solong's Avatar
    That was a good one! I try to read as many of these as I can. My dd is also a very sensitive and tender-hearted kiddo. I'll keep scanning for things, and let you know if something great pops up.
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