“Be useful, be kind” Barack Obama

November 13th, 2019 in Blog

What if we just taught our children these two things? What if we practised them ourselves so we could be role models for our children? What would be different for you? For your family? In your workplace or school? What would be different in the world?

What does it mean to be useful as a child?

Do we ask children to help us enough with chores, with problems, with their unique advice? We all need to feel valued and purposeful and yet we often don’t experience this until we are grown-ups. We might laugh at the old phrase – ‘children should be seen and not heard’ and yet often without realising it, we may create a similar environment – yes, I can hear you saying that you definitely ‘hear’ your children running around, moaning, playing their music etc – what I mean is hearing their wisdom, their thinking, their ideas without dismissing it too soon either externally or internally.

Ask yourself what habits have you got into around the conversations you have with your children as parents or teachers?

What if we used the wisdom of children in more of our decision making in schools? Often schools have student councils – are these notional or transformative?

What does it mean to be kind?

As parents or carers to children, we are the ultimate role models – our kindness towards children and each other is being watched and replicated without us realising. If we want our children to learn kindness we are their best chance.

But what do we mean by kindness? Is it always saying yes to others at the expense of ourselves? Is it about being kind to ourselves as well as each other – finding that elusive balance where we don’t run ourselves ragged just to serve others, but we look after ourselves so we can serve others even more? Every time I hear the words ‘be kind to yourself’ I think of my mum who used to write it at the end of every letter and card. When we are kind to ourselves, we are by default being kind to others.

What changes could you make that would help you role model the balance of kindness for your children? How else could we teach children to practice kindness?

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