My mother always said that little pictures had big ears. What she should have said is that little pictures have big ears and eyes. Children do hear everything we say, but they also watch what we do, good or bad.
Children notice when we drive too fast just as they notice us waiting patiently for an older person to walk across the street. Children watch us when we help an elderly person at the market get an item on a high shelf, bringing canned goods for a food drive at our place of worship or gathering canned goods for a food drive at school. They sees us cooking extra food for our neighbor’s family so the neighbor who just had surgery will have dinner for her family. They also notice that we don’t expect anything in return. They see us taking our father to the doctor after work even though we are very tired, but we say that family looks after family.
We can teach a 3-year old to do small acts of kindness like helping us get the neighbor’s mail when they are out of town. A 4-years old, the child can help us make cookies or brownies to sell at a bake sale to raise money for school. The seven-year old can help cook and serve food at a homeless shelter with the family. All children can go through their closet twice a year and give away the clothes that no longer fit and the toys they no longer play with to others who can use them.
When we provide our children opportunities to do acts of kindness with us and/or the rest of the family, we are teaching our children what it feels like to be empathetic, charitable and to have gratitude. These things can only be learned by doing, and by doing them with a loved one who truly gives from the heart, is empathetic and is grateful for what they have.
I fear that we are raising a new generations without empathy, charity, social skills and gratitude. We are to busy doing other things and buying things to take the time to perform acts of kindness with our children. Our children don’t need more things, they need time, quality time with us, their parents. Unless we go back to basics and teach empathy, charity and gratitude to our children, we will continue to have school, mall, movie theater, bank and other shootings, killing innocents.
The lessons we teach our children by spending time with them doing acts of kindness last a lifetime. Start teaching the lessons and making the memories today. It isn’t to late!