Great Ways To Teach Civility and Kindness in 2021

treaching civility and kindness
Torrey Roberts and Dr. Bob Barnes, Sheridan House Family Ministries

Well parents, we officially made it to the end of 2020! It was quite the journey for us all. There were definitely ups and downs, but if we choose to see the positives, we all probably learned many things. Even better, we had the chance to instill in our kids some very powerful life lessons. Our kids learned how to cope with major change. They learned how to manage disappointment. They hopefully learned how to process through emotions like fear and anxiety. This time period forced many of us to streamline our schedules and get a lot more organized as the family juggled a new paradigm. With 2021 upon us, there is one big lesson we can still choose to teach… civility and kindness.


Modeling kindness at home

Basic civility seems to be something that our current culture has lost, canceled out if you will, especially when opinions differ! This is also a topic we have spent much time on here at Parenting on Purpose. And as kindness is a Fruit of the Spirit, it is one of the imperatives that we teach our children how to exercise. As with so many things the training ground for this starts at home. Sadly, because we tend to let our guard down at home, the family tends to get the worst side of us. This is especially true of children. Home is their environment to safely push boundaries and know unconditional love, which is why mom sometimes bears the brunt of misbehavior and attitudes.

Again as with most things we are training our children, this starts with us. We need to be modeling this behavior first and foremost at home. As stress has risen, to sometimes insurmountable heights this year, I am quite certain we have all become a bit snappy. I know that I have for sure! If you are like me, your frustration level has risen as you have tried to get work done at home with continued interruptions. Or have maybe allowed the cultural tensions to seep over into your emotions. Or as with so many, the tensions and stress have impacted your marriage and have eked into how you and your spouse speak to each other.

As with most New Year’s resolutions, this is a time we traditionally look at our lives and set goals for ourselves and families. So take a step back and evaluate, how do I speak to my spouse? How do I speak to my children? Does my voice tone change when I am frustrated or disagree? Do my spouse and I “fight fair” or do we get heated? Disagreements and frustrations are normal, especially in this unprecedented time, but we may need to make a change in how we are speaking to and treating each other.


Try that again

model kindnessAnother way to teach civility and kindness to our children is how we allow them to respond to us as parents and to their siblings. This is something that is both “caught,” by modeling, and taught. It is interesting to listen to toddlers as they are working out language and learning how to express themselves. We realize how rude they can be. This is a time to start harnessing that tongue and helping them reword things politely.

We all try to teach our children the “magic words” of please and thank you, but we should also focus on teaching kindness and respect with words as well. We do a lot of “try that again” at our house. When things come out, a lot of times unintentionally rude, demanding or disrespectful, I ask my sons to “try that again.”  It alerts them to change their wording. If I am feeling frustrated or my kids are feeling frustrated with each other, we take five. This means we take a five minute break to calm down and process. To my delight, my youngest has now started taking five on his own to pray through the situation when he is feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.


Consider what they see

Lastly, with all the screens we have been exposed to lately, it brings up a host of things to look at which is another whole topic in and of itself. Take the time to make sure your kids aren’t overstimulated or struggling with screen fatigue, which affects mood and impulse control. This is also a great time to evaluate what we are putting in those brains.

I am always shocked by the Christmas classic, Home Alone. We talk during and after the movie about how the family treats each other. Process through the books or movies that your kids are imputing, are they great examples of kindness? If not, talk it through with your kids. This lesson of “treating others better than yourself” is invaluable and is one of the key components to your child being marriageable and employable. It is completely worth your time and effort to teach (or reteach) and train your household.


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