This post is sponsored by American Girl®. All opinions are my own, as always.
I have a secret obsession with psychology, and I’m gonna tell you why. You see, I write all the time about natural health and wellness. I share natural remedies, I talk about a real food diet, and I get geeky with you about natural health research and alternative medicine. I’m all about feeling vibrantly awesome, naturally.
Physical wellness is one thing, but there are other aspects to our overall health that cannot be ignored: namely emotional wellbeing.
Studies have proven over and over again that stress can actually have negative physical effects on our bodies, and that conversely, strong emotional health has positive effects.
You could be eating a flawless real food diet 100% of the time, but if you suffer a lack of relational and emotional wellness – it will eventually manifest itself in your physical health.
For as long as I can remember, kindness, empathy, and compassion have been on the forefront of my mind. I suppose as an INFP personality type, that’s not surprising, given that I’m a strong intuitive feeler.
(Side note: I realize that I’m making myself sound pretty great here, but that’s because we’re not talking detail-oriented tasks, efficiency, and schedules. Ha!)
I recently came across an article about a recent research study which revealed the number one trait that parents desire for their children to develop. Can you guess what it was? The number one trait was responsibility. Empathy was on the list too, but further down.
This probably won’t come as a shock, but I differ from the majority on this one. Responsibility is super important of course. But above all else, I want my children to be kind.
I firmly believe that a kind heart is part of a healthy body.
Kindness has been linked to an increase in helpful hormones like oxytocin, a reduction in anxiety, and faster healing from illnesses and pain.
So, with that being said, I want to share five practical things that I’m doing in this regard. Some are things I’m working on and aspiring toward, and others are things we’ve been doing for years.
5 Simple Ways to Raise a Kind Daughter
1. Talk about feelings
This one is crucial. Make feelings-talk a normal part of your daily vernacular as a family. Don’t shy away from big concepts, like frustration, disappointment, or fear. When kids are able to understand and manage their own feelings, they’re one step closer to understanding how other people feel, which is the precursor to empathy and kindness.
2. Make family rules
We use the phrase “we don’t do that in our family” a lot. There are certain rules of kindness and respect that everyone is expected to follow in our family.
Of course, this goes for the grownups too – modelling is absolutely crucial to successfully passing on character values. (Easier said than done, I know.)
3. Minimal stuff
My kids’ general state of discontent is directly proportionate to the amount of stuff that surrounds them. It’s a bold statement, but I’ve seen it play out time after time again. They are generally more agreeable, more imaginative, and more content when there’s less instead of more.
The two weeks after our house closing (before we moved in) when we were painting walls, etc. were some of the most peaceful, cooperative days I’ve ever spent with my kids. And all they had with them was a few books, some coloring supplies, and an empty house.
Having less reliance on tons of possessions helps kids to become less consumeristic and inward-focused. Instead of self-centredness, there’s ample opportunity to think of others.
4. Choose media and toys carefully
I cannot possibly state the importance of this one enough. I’ve been conscious of this since I first became a mom, and especially so once I had a daughter. Unfortunately, girls suffer from a barrage of poor role models and negative messaging in toys and media.
I’m pretty strict about what kind of toys and shows and books I bring into our home thanks to inappropriately sexualized dolls, movies and shows that promote disrespect and selfish attitudes, and unchecked consumerism.
Thankfully, there are actually some great options out there, if you know where to look. I recently discovered a new line of American Girl dolls called The WellieWishers™, which focus on empathy, kindness, and friendship. They are adorable, age-appropriate, and perfect for my six-year-old daughter. She has “Willa,” provided by American Girl to me for free for my review, and absolutely adores her.
They also have early-reader chapter books and an animated series, available on Amazon Prime, which focus on the same themes, which is awesome!
5. Get out into the world
I’m a huge proponent of not keeping your kids in a bubble. We traveled a fair bit before having kids (South America, Africa, Europe), and have hopes to travel extensively with the kids before they leave the nest once we can save up for it. Travel is one of the very best ways of broadening your horizons and developing empathy for differences in others.
In the meantime, we talk about local and world events (in age-appropriate terms) with our kids to help them realize that the world is so much bigger than just them.
It is my sincere hope that my daughter will grow up to be a loving, compassionate, responsible, hard-working woman. But above all, I hope that she is kind.
How are you teaching kindness in your family?
Thanks to American Girl for sponsoring this conversation, and for making such great products that align wonderfully with our family’s values. These words and thoughts are 100% mine.