Millions of Americans are shocked by the senseless violence we’ve seen in America. Many people fear that the country is falling apart and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it. But in the midst of all this chaos and anxiety, one father claims that parents can heal our country and create a brighter future by teaching kindness to children.
Mike Ferry (father of four, veteran middle school teacher, and author of Teaching Happiness And Innovation) says that kindness has many positive benefits for us as individuals and as a society. When we act with kindness, our brains produce more dopamine, the “happiness neurotransmitter,” making us more upbeat and optimistic. Kindness also leads to more cooperation and less division in our country. Also, kindness helps kids develop empathy, an important cognitive skill and a vital attribute for a peaceful future. And research shows that kind kids have better educational outcomes and job prospects, in addition to having fewer legal problems and cases of mental illness.
Ferry shares these five ways that parents can help America by teaching kindness to kids:
- Model kindness. Our kids are always learning from us, whether or not we realize it. When interacting with others, especially those with whom you disagree, try your best to use a kind tone.
- Leave a big tip. When dining out with the kids, leave behind a tip that is more than expected. Talk about the smile that will be on the server’s face when they find the gratuity.
- Write a note of appreciation. If you’re staying at a hotel while on family vacation, invite the kids to write notes for the housekeeper saying how clean and comfortable the room was.
- Serve others. Clean up trash at the park, gather athletic gear for needy kids, or serve food at a food kitchen. Community service is a great way for kids to see that they can have a positive impact on others, and it can counteract the hopelessness we feel when tragedies strike. For ideas on service projects in your local community, check out handsonnetwork.org.
- Make a micro-loan. Lend money to an entrepreneur in a developing country or here at home through Kiva.org. You can select the country and loan amount, and you can see the actual person who will receive your money. It’s heartwarming to know that your small investment is changing the lives of individuals and communities. Plus, your kid will develop a deeper understanding of geography and global economics.
Known as “The Happy Teacher,” Mike Ferry is a 13-year veteran middle school history teacher, father of four, and author of Teaching Happiness And Innovation. His passion is to help kids form habits for happiness, creativity, and success in life. Mike’s work has been featured in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, CBS 6 Richmond, and radio shows and podcasts around the world.