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Practicing kindness in a world where corruption, unfairness is rampant demands courage

By Harriet James
Wednesday, September 16th, 2020
Children learn more from what they see adults do. Photo/PD/COURTESY
In summary
    • Use the language of kindness in your family.  This will help to convey kindness as an important family value and expectation. 
    • As a family, brainstorm ways to practice kindness. Together, make a list of kind things people do for others.
    • Model kindness in word and deed.
    • Act in love. Show them compassion. Be gentle when others make mistakes. Practise forgiveness.
    • When praise is sincere, don’t hold back, sincere and genuine praise has been shown to increase children’s motivation.
    • Model grace and let them know that making mistakes is okay. That everyone does.

Harriet James @harriet86jim

In today’s world, the saying ‘kindness has become so rare that people mistake it for flirtation’ actually holds water. It has become everyone for himself and God for us all.

The truth is, in this fast-paced world, it is easy to be engrossed in one’s life and forget about others.

Selfishness and self-interest may take centre stage. And in the midst of all this, are children.

With monkey see, monkey do phenomena, how do we change this narrative?

For Mwongera Mutiga, an entrepreneur and parenting coach, living in a cold world as it is today has given him a different passion in life; to train his three children aged 12, eight and six how to be kind. 

“What inspires me to teach them kindness is the fact that there’s not enough of it in the world today.

The world teaches people to be cut throat in order to succeed, yet so many of us suffer from mental disorders because of how others mistreat us. Kindness is a forgotten and underrated virtue,” he says. 

To him kindness means treating other people in the same way he would desire to be treated.

To imagine himself in another person’s shoes and do what is best for them, considering the needs of others above his.

One of the practical ways that he is doing this is by ensuring that his children share their gifts and toys with each other. 

Making it practical

“Instead of getting each of them a separate bar of chocolate, we get one and have them share it.

We enforce this by getting them a few toys at a time so they are forced to share them.

We also require them to spend time together so that they appreciate each other and are more inclined to share,” he narrates 

Mwongera and his wife are deliberate in enforcing positive gender roles in a world that is harsh towards women.

“Our son does house chores just like his sisters, and is required to do them diligently.

However, we ensure he does roles that are gentlemanly, such as opening or closing the gate for his siblings,” says Mwongera. 

They are also training them to be assertive in their decisions and for his boy to respect women and to understand that a ‘no’ means just that. 

“If any of the children are uncomfortable with anything, whether a game or a joke or activity and they tell the other ‘no’, then it’s a no.

The wider implication is that we should be kind and considerate with everyone, regardless of gender, but specifically teach all to be protective of the weaker/younger ones.

Sometimes it’s not the gender issue when it comes to protection — with children, it’s mostly an age thing, the younger ones are the ones who need it,” he notes 

According to him, the society has attached negative notions when it comes to gender roles.

“We need to break the perception that only boys or only girls can/should do certain things.

We should teach them to be responsible and considerate, and with time they will gravitate to work that they like.

This thing of saying boys shouldn’t cook, or girls can’t repair things that are spoilt is a negative gender role dynamic,” he points out. 

In a webinar dubbed, Raising Kind Kids organised by Programme for Family Development  at Strathmore University, various experts came together to discuss the need for raising kind children.

According to Dr Ceasar Mwangi, one of the moderators, no child is born into the society being kind and it’s up to parents to train their children on how to exhibit the virtue. 

“A child is by virtue born selfish and need to be socialised by parents and the close kin on how to be kind.

In many instances, one is born alone, but should understand that there are other people around them and should be aware of their needs and feelings before undertaking any action,” he says 

Kindness also includes the use of magic words ‘sorry’, ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ whenever necessary.

It is also depicted in how we treat other people, how tolerant and forgiving we are and how empathetic we are to the needs of others. 

 “If you want kind kids, you have to be intentional about it and don’t give up in the process.

You have to have a vision of how you want your children to be and happy to leave the world a better place than you found it,” advices Winnie Nzabu, a family counsellor 

Mwongera says by teaching children on how to serve others, we are sensitising them on the needs of others, making them recognise that everybody is important and equal. 

 Mwongera also runs a platform known as ‘Papa Bear’, an online platform around fatherhood that equips men to be better and also raise great children.

According to him, the greatest way that parents can teach kindness to their children is by being role models themselves. 

“Kids learn from us, whether we are teaching them or not, values are caught not taught.

What they see us do is more lasting in their minds that what we tell them to do; they will do what we do, not what we say,” he says in conlcusion.

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