Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

Being a parent is by far the most important job in the world.  If I were to write a job description for being a parent, it would go something like this:  "Responsible for feeding, clothing, teaching, shaping, providing, loving, and caring for an individual day in and day out for the next 18 years and beyond."  That, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg.  Being a parent is tough.  Each day brings new challenges, surprises, and joy.  It is a constant learning process with ups and downs.  Some days you feel successful and others you feel like you have done nothing right.  The fact of the matter is this:  at the end of the day there is still someone who thinks you are the most fantastic person in the world....your child!

As a parent, you are your child's first teacher.  It is our job to mold these impressionable little beings into good people.  There are times when it is easy to forget that someone is watching your every move (or so it seems) until you hear or see something you wish you hadn't.  Come on, you know you've all been there!  I do my best to correct the problem and move on.  After all, no one is perfect!

Kindness is a virtue that we feel strongly about.  We encourage our children to be kind and respectful to others.  This behavior starts at home.  As in all families, our kids fight.  They are close in age, so their interests overlap and this can cause some problems in our home.  It is my goal to teach my kids to resolve their problems in a calm and kind way instead of screaming at and hitting each other.  Now that summer is here and all three kids are home every day,  I knew we needed to make something to create some incentive to think about our actions and words.

It is a well-known fact that kids respond better to rewards than punishment.  Our kids are familiar with both, but I am trying to come up with more positive ways to shape their behavior versus just using time-out and/or grounding.  In order to cut down on the fighting, I decided to reward kind behavior.  Yes, this takes more effort on our part to pay attention and remember to reward them, but in the long run I think we'll all be better for it!

Today we implemented the "kindness jar."  I needed to use something that wasn't breakable, so we upcycled an empty parmesan cheese container to make our jar.  I broke out the old glue gun and glued some foam bugs on the container to dress it up a bit.  I also bought colored poms to fill it with.  The concept is simple:  if you are kind to someone in the house, you may put one pom in the jar.  If you are unkind, you have to take two poms out.  Once it is full, the whole family will receive something special.  Easy enough, right?

Since our kids are still pretty young, we had to have a discussion about what types of behaviors will be rewarded with a pom for the jar and what will get them taken away.  I added one more rule:  don't ask to receive a pom for something that you did.  I'd like this to be a genuine act of kindness and not an intentional act to receive a reward.  The kids think it's a great idea and I am hoping we have positive results!

Our Kindness Jar

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