Thursday, 13 November 2014

Kindness


What does it mean to be kind anymore?
Have we forgotten how to be kind?
Do we really need to have World Kindness Day?
What sort of a world are we living in and creating daily, if we need a reminder on a scale of World Kindness Day 2014? Which incidently is today, 13th November.

Acts of kindness happen all the time and are not shouted about.  Some people perhaps view kindness to be as the same as good manners ie giving up a seat on the bus or letting someone with a couple of items go infront of you at the supermarket checkout - are lines blurred or is there a definitive destinction between the two? I think they are different. We see many memes, Buzzfeed links, pinterest pictures and links to articles about Kindness such as 16 Acts of Random Kindness (I do like this one and have it 'pinned'). I particularly like the act of 'paying it forward' - doing a 'good deed' for someone and expecting nothing in return other than for that person to do a 'good deed' for another, and so it rolls on.  Many independent coffee shops participate in the pay it forward concept with coffee - buy an extra coffee with your own, and a person in need can receive it in the future when they need a warm beverage.  Reading such articles makes us feel all warm, makes us smile and generally go "awww, how sweet/nice/cute" and then move on to the next thing in our lives, often without a second thought.
In real life, I see and hear (particularly in my place of employment) any act of 'kindness' treated with suspicion (what is (s)he after?) , or mocked or scorned  (how pathetic/soft touch/ gullible) and it is so sad. How did we become so jaded? So cynical? And I guess, ultimately, so self-involved as to not notice or acknowledge those around us?  Does kindness need some pop-culture over haul to make it "cool to be kind"?  I believe that kindness is in all of us, its just that some people need a little help learning how to release it.  Does that make me gullible or a soft touch? I don't care - to think of me as daft maybe says more of the person with that judgement.

Surely to be kind is a positive attribute, something one would wish to be thought of as?  I regularly hear (and use myself) parents telling their child(ren) to share/take turns/play nice, but how often are they told to be kind? I don't actually think anyone should be told to be kind, its not something we are told to do then obediently do it. That is not kindness. Let me re-phrase that:  How often are they shown what it is to be kind, and to receive kindness?  I have many friends who regularly demonstrate kindness to those around, including their children, with gentle reminders to said children, if their behaviour needs brought to the child's attention.  Simply changing from yelling "NO, don't do that (whatever 'that' may be)",  to which I know I am guilty of (but aware of and working on. It is a constant internal battle of mine, wishing I had handled situations better/ more gently/less like how I have been programmed to over the past 36years.  I am getting better though) to saying in a calm and evenly toned voice, "That wasn't very kind, was it?" or "That was really unkind" brings the action/behaviour to the child's attention and makes then question it themselves. At least, this is how I have seen it to work in my experience.  It is a more gentle approach to helping little ones understand what is and what is not kind, consider their actions and how it affects their friends/people around them.  Practicing what we preach is so important, as our children really do mimic and relate to the world around them by what they are living. I just need to listen to Kiddo arguing with Hubby, me or his Gran to hear my words and tones tumbling from his mouth!

Raising a child in today's world certainly has its challenges and we all want our children to grow up and be the best they can. I also would very much like for my son to grow up and be not a big strong man (with me standing barefoot at 5ft 7.5 and a wee bit inches tall and Hubby over 6ft, I think its a given that he will be big and tall), but grow up to be a kind man. In order to assist his journey there, he needs a little guidance in what it is to be kind.
Step forward the newest edition to our home - our Kindness Elf, and her pet mouse, Tinsel. (NB I originally named Tinsel, 'Mistletoe', then remembered that the white berries of mistletoe are poisonous and should not be touched by children....not ideal then! Name change required)


Whilst looking into Christmas traditions and seeing what other families do, the Elf on The Shelf kept coming up again and again.  I know of a few friends who have played with the Elf on The Shelf in previous Christmases, but its not quite right for our set up.  I don't agree with the 'plot' of this wee elf spying on the child and reporting back to Santa as to whether the child is good or bad.  Is it trying to tell kids that only 'good' children get presents? No thank you - I don't use reward charts (and they don't work with Kiddo anyway - he will not be bribed!), and I'm not going to tell him that Santa won't come if he's 'naughty'.  He has to want to be 'good' for himself, not just because he'll get presents. The other side to the Elf On The Shelf is his mischievious streak, which I actually find highly amusing and would love to get all creative and a bit crazy with the endless fun of situations the Elf could find itself in, but since Kiddo is a very literal thinker, I don't think I could handle any more mayhem, either by copying, or joint force of partners in hi-jinks!
However, I came across  The Kindness Elves.  Anna who writes The Imagination Tree blog came up with a twist to the Elf On The Shelf theme.  Her idea is for these little elves to help spread kindness and joy with little ones over the season.  I love this! Her Elves now even have their own Facebook page.
Kiddo doesn't know the story of the Kindness Elves, or in his case, Elf, so I'm going to let him figure it out with the help of of his own elf and Tinsel the mouse.
Elfie (my name for her for the purpose of the blog) took a wee while to be discovered, but once she was, the look of puzzlement as to who she was and why she was in his room, soon dissolved upon reading the attached note. Puzzlement lead to glee, enormous smiles and cuddles, then disappointment and a little huff - the latter being due to the fact the Elfie wasn't staying here for ever, only until Hogmanay (why stop at Christmas once Santa has been?  Lets go to New Year and she can help with resolutions).  That was quickly altered to "for as long as Kiddo needed her" in a Mary Poppins/Nanny McPhee way I suppose? Free-styling and winging it are very much part of the parenting ethos of this house. Calm restored, Elfie was given a name - I was trying to help with festive suggestions, all of which were veto'd. Kiddo chose her name, which is not festive in the least but certainly unique.  All 3 are now fast asleep tucked up in bed.  Wonder what message of kindness Elfie will bring tomorrow?

Our (my) first act of kindness today was deliberately choosing our elf from Ikea.  They are running a campaign in conjunction with Save the Children and Unicef, whereby £1 from every soft toy purchased is donated to supporting education in developing countries.

I will keep up to date with how Kiddo and Elfie are getting on (many of the kind suggestions are already planned in my lists as part of our festive preparations anyway). I am really excited to see how this goes.

Happy World Kindness Day
xxx


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