In Gus’ Fortunate Misfortune, the young monk Jamyang responds to Gus, the small mouse, in a way most people would consider not typical. Most folks might go after a mouse with broom or trap, but Jamyang behaves kindly to Gus. Realizing that the mouse is terrified, he does his best to reduce Gus’ fear.
Kindness is a quality that is greatly appreciated and one parents would want to foster in their children. How to do this?
One way is to set a great example by demonstrating kindness to others yourself! However, this may not be immediately noticed since we don’t often remark on our own such behaviors. Still important though, since children are always watching and consistent behavior will show results.
Another way is to observe and remark on acts of kindness seen around us. When someone holds the door for you, you might say “Thank you! You’re so kind!” As a parent you can create situations where siblings/friends are prompted to do something helpful for one another and be sure to generously remark on the kindness of the behavior. They will come to see that there is value in kindness.
My favorite way, especially for older children, is to consider the kindness of others to us, even if they are not known by us. You can use anything but my favorite example is a cup of tea. Make it a game and think of all the people, in all the world, that were involved in your being able to enjoy a cup of tea. Make it as expansive as possible including sowers and growers, harvesters and packers, shippers and truck drivers and road builders, stockers and cashiers. In this way children, and their adults, will realize that every single thing we enjoy is brought to us through the kindness of others.
Make this routine in your family and soon your children will follow your example. Remember that in all of our choices, we can always choose to be kind.