Time for the third in the tenets of the EDMO Method™, and one of everyone’s all-time favorites, kindness. Science shows that kindness is built into the human psyche. From a young age, human brains are flooded with feel-good emotions after sharing and helping out. Nurturing these natural tendencies can help strengthen a child’s ability to be kind – especially in situations where encouragement for these actions is not already part of the program, like at school or on the playground.
Modeling kindness at home helps stimulate kids’ own innate qualities, which can extend to circumstances beyond the home. “Children learn to be helpful from watching you,” says David Schonfeld, M.D., in Parents magazine’s 14 Tips to Encourage Kindness. Invite kids to come along when you bring food to a neighbor, take flowers to a friend, or compliment a stranger. Most important of all – when children want to help out, let them!
Sure, you might get the work done faster or have a better technique, but kids are more likely repeat their contributions if they feel successful afterward. A lecture on spotless pots and pans isn’t likely to inspire a repeat performance of altruistic dishwashing, should such a thing occur. So don’t look for perfection. Children are learning and their skills will improve with use.
If you’re feeling out of practice yourself and need some suggestions, check Red Tricycle’s list of 70 Simple Kindness Acts To Do Today. These easy deeds do double duty for parents. Not only are you helping someone else, but boosting your own happy brain chemicals will increase your patience for tolerating smudgy dishes, too:
- Traffic got you down? Pay the toll of the car behind you on the bridge.
- Need something sweet to smell at work? Take someone else flowers.
- Frustrated that the fridge is too full? Make an extra sandwich and give it to a homeless person on the way to school or work.
- Feeling blue? Hold the door open for someone – you might make a new friend.
Once you are done with all that, take a load off after a day of doing good and share a book or movie with your family. Commonsense Media has a list of Movies That Inspire Compassion, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation recommends 20 Books That Make Kids Kinder and Buzzfeed has another list of 13.
Then, if you really want to do those dishes after all, load up some apps that support kindness and compassion to keep the kids busy while you get your suds on!