Category: Kindness

October 4, 2021 by Bob McKinnon 0 Comments

What Story Will Our Children Tell About These Last 18 Months?

“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”  This is the famous mantra at the heart of the classic children’s book, The Little Engine that Could.

If ever we needed to encourage our children to believe in themselves and work hard to “make it over the mountain,” it has been these last eighteen months.  

Teachers, parents, and, most of all, students, have been asked to overcome a myriad of unprecedented challenges. We don’t need to list them here as, unfortunately, we all know them all too well. 

Yet while all have had to work hard to overcome these barriers to learning, we also know that some have had more to overcome than others. It will be years before we can fully understand how far some have fallen behind others. 

I wrote Three Little Engines, an update of the classic, well before the pandemic hit, but its core messages seem prescient and instructive today. While the original asked children to believe in themselves (“I think I can…”), Three Little Engines also asks us all to also believe in AND help each other (“I think we can…”).

The Story Goes Like This

It’s graduation day. In order to graduate, three little engines have to make their first solo trip over the mountain, where friends and family wait to celebrate. The Little Blue Engine goes first and makes her way up the mountain, repeating to herself “I think I can” as she chugs up the slope. With clear skies and a positive spirit, she makes her way relatively easily to the other side. But her two friends are nowhere to be seen. 

Unbeknownst to her, they have traveled on different tracks with different challenges. The Yellow Engine was caught in a terrible storm, and the Red Engine was stopped by a fallen tree on her tracks. Neither can make it over the mountain to join her for their graduation celebration.  

Initially, the Little Blue Engine is confused and frustrated. Did her friends quit?  Did they not work as hard as she did?  

It is only when prompted by some questions from her teacher, the Rusty Old Engine, does she reflect on how their journey may have been different from her own. They did indeed work very hard and didn’t quit. Rather they just had more obstacles and needed a little more help. With this realization, she is determined to go back up the mountain to help her friends get to the celebration. 

Three Little Engines' Lessons

In the spirit of the Big Heart World framework, the book underscores three opportunities for parents, educators, and children:

  • Learning About Me — How do we help children understand their own journey these last eighteen months?  
  • Learning About You — How do we encourage children to see how others’ journeys may have been different from theirs? 
  • Learning About Us — How do we create the space for children to seek help for themselves or offer help for others?   

This first asks us to have an honest conversation about “attribution” — what internal or external factors have contributed to where we are right now? The second encourages curiosity and empathy. The final requires bravery and kindness. 

It has been inspiring to read this book to young children and hear their reaction. They talk about what “trees that have fallen on their track” and who helped to remove them (thank you teachers and parents!). When asked which engine they’d most like to be, most say the Little Blue Engine.  Not because her trip over the mountain was easier but because they want to be the one who goes back up the mountain to help their friends. They “get” that the other engines didn’t quit but just needed a little help — and, importantly, that it’s okay to ask for help. 

As most kids are back in school, there may be a sense that things are getting back to normal (masks notwithstanding).  Understandably, the majority of energy will be to move forward, to make up for lost learning and missed time.  

Yet we know how important stories are for our children. It is a primary way in which they make sense of their world.  Which story they tell about this challenging time may depend on what stories we help them create today.

Los materiales para la vuelta al cole más importantes de este año: Las máscaras y las habilidades para resolver problemas

Jodie's son

Mi hijo de seis años empezó el primer grado este mes en una escuela nueva, sin ninguna cara conocida a la vista. El primer día, le preguntó a su compañera de pupitre si quería que fueran amigos. Ella respondió encogiendo los hombros y diciéndole que lo pensaría.

Al día siguiente, su respuesta fue no. 

Grrr.

Mi sangre de mamá-oso hirvió cuando me contó su decisión, pero su carita pecosa permaneció relativamente tranquila y natural. No parecía enfadado: más bien estaba inseguro de qué debía hacer ahora.

A medida que nuestros hijos comienzan un nuevo año escolar, muchos de ellos de vuelta a las aulas después de una larga pausa causada por el Covid, me uno a muchos padres que están ayudando a nuestros hijos a resolver problemas sociales. 

Las preocupaciones de padres con la vuelta al cole

Un nuevo estudio realizado por Bright by Text y Big Heart World con casi 450 padres de niños de entre 2 y 8 años de edad, reveló que:

  • El 75% de los padres afirman estar preocupados por el aprendizaje socio-emocional de sus hijos. 
  • Los padres están más preocupados por el desarrollo socio-emocional que por el aprendizaje académico.
  • Sólo el 31% de los padres declaró sentirse “muy seguro” de poder ayudar a sus hijos a desarrollar sus habilidades socioemocionales. 

Con tantas cosas que están fuera de nuestro control en este momento (el 95% de los padres encuestados siguen preocupados por la posibilidad de que sus hijos se contagien de COVID), todavía hay formas de ayudar a nuestros hijos a volver a salir a la calle con confianza. 

Tres estrategias para ayudar a nuestros hijos a resolver problemas

Aquí hay tres estrategias para ayudar a tu hijo a resolver problemas sociales: 

  1. Devuelvele las preguntas. Cuando mi hijo de primer grado me preguntó qué creía que debía hacer para hacer amigos, mis otros hijos se lanzaron a hacer sugerencias. “Pasar tiempo en las barras durante el recreo”, sugirió mi hijo de tercer grado. “Allí seguro que haces amigos”. Mi hijo de cuatro años preguntó si podía ir a primer grado y ser amigo de su hermano mayor. (Qué bien, pero pues, no es posible). Le devolví la pregunta original a quien la hizo: “¿Qué crees TÚ que deberías hacer?”. Y, con sólo unos minutos de reflexión, se le ocurrieron algunas ideas geniales para hacer nuevos amigos y también para llevarse bien con la compañera no tan interesada. Por supuesto, a veces nuestros hijos necesitarán que les ayudemos a resolver problemas, pero otras veces sólo necesitan saber que creemos que ellos tienen las respuestas.
  2. Aplica la regla de “prueba 3 antes de venir a mí”. Con tres niños de edades cercanas, en mi casa hay conflictos casi constantes. Qué película ver, quién puede usar qué juguete, a qué parque vamos. En pocas palabras: los conflictos son agotadores, para los padres, para los niños e incluso para el perro de nuestra familia, que se levanta y sale de la habitación cuando hay un desacuerdo. La regla ” Prueba 3 antes de acudir a mí” anima a los niños a idear tres formas de resolver un problema por su cuenta antes de pedírselo a un adulto. Si están jugando a un juego de mesa y no están de acuerdo, la regla de “probar 3” podría ser la siguiente: negociar una regla que pueda resolver el problema, volver a empezar la partida o elegir un nuevo juego. Si todo eso falla, pueden pedirme ayuda a mí (o a otro adulto). Esto anima a los niños a resolver un problema entre ellos antes de pedir ayuda externa.
  3. Haz que el respeto sea un ingrediente de los desacuerdos. Los niños (amigos, hermanos, compañeros de clase) no siempre están de acuerdo. Y eso está bien. Pero insultar, gritar o herir físicamente a otra persona no está bien. Cuando surge un desacuerdo entre mis propios hijos o entre mi hijo y un amigo, a menudo me ayuda recordarles que en realidad se quieren, y que no tienen que estar de acuerdo, pero sí tienen que dirigirse al otro con respeto. Estas palabras son más efectivas cuando todos han tenido la oportunidad de respirar profundamente y calmarse.

Al comenzar otro año escolar marcado por la pandemia, añadamos habilidades de resolución de problemas sociales a nuestra lista de material escolar. 

Para más consejos sobre cómo ayudar a tu hijo a tener un gran corazón este año escolar, envía HEART al 274 448.

September 21, 2021 by Jodie Fishman, MPH, MCHES 0 Comments

This Year’s Hottest Back-to-School Supplies: Masks and Problem-Solving Skills

Jodie's son
Jodie's 6-year-old, heading to first grade

My six-year-old started first grade this month at a brand-new school, not a familiar face in sight. On the first day, he asked his next desk neighbor if she wanted to be friends. She responded with a shrug and said she’d think about it.

The next day, her answer was no. 

Grrr.

My mama-bear blood boiled when he told me her verdict, but his little freckled face remained relatively calm and matter-of-fact. He didn’t seem angry. Mostly, he seemed unsure of what to do next.

As our kids begin a new school year, many back in the classroom after a long Covid-induced hiatus, I join many parents across the country (and around the world) who are pitching in to help our kids figure out social problem-solving. 

Parents' Back-to-School Worries

A new study of nearly 450 parents of kids ages 2-8, conducted via text message by Bright by Text and Big Heart World, found that:

  • 75% of parents reported concern about their child’s social-emotional learning. 
  • Parents are more concerned about social-emotional development than academic learning.
  • Only 31% of parents reported feeling “very confident” in helping their child build social-emotional skills. 

With so much out of our control right now (95% of parents surveyed remain concerned about their child catching COVID), there are still ways we can help our kids get back out there confidently. 

Three Strategies to Help Our Kids Solve Problems

Here are three strategies for helping your child solve social problems: 

  1. Bounce questions back. When my first grader asked what I thought he should do to make friends, my other kids jumped in with suggestions. “Hang out at the monkey bars during recess,” suggested my third grader. “You’ll definitely make friends there.” My four-year-old asked if he could move up to 1st grade and be his big brother’s friend. (Sweet, but not possible.) I bounced the original question back to its asker: “What do YOU think you should do?” And, with just a few minutes of thought, he came up with some great ideas for making new friends and also getting along with the not-so-interested classmate. Of course, sometimes our kids will need us to help problem-solve — but other times they just need to know that we believe they have the answers.
  2. Use the “try 3 before coming to me” rule. With three kids close in age, there are near-constant conflicts in my house. Which movie to watch, who gets to use which toy, what playground we go to. Simply put: conflicts are exhausting — for the parents, for the kids, and even for our family’s dog who gets up and leaves the room when a disagreement rumbles through! The “Try 3 before coming to me” rule encourages kids to come up with three ways to solve a problem on their own before asking a grown-up. If they’re playing a board game and disagree, the “try 3” rule might look like: negotiate on a rule that may solve the problem, start the game over, or pick a new game. If all of that fails, then they can ask me (or another grown-up) for help. This encourages kids to solve a problem amongst themselves first before asking for outside help.
  3. Make respect an ingredient in disagreements. Kids (friends, siblings, classmates) don’t always agree. And that’s okay. But calling people names, yelling, or physically hurting someone else are not okay. When a disagreement comes up between my own kids or my child and a friend, it often helps to remind them that they actually like each other — and that they don’t have to agree, but they do have to approach each other respectfully. These words sink in the most when everyone has had a chance to take some deep breaths and calm down.

As we begin yet another pandemic school year, let’s all add social problem-solving skills to our school supply list. 

For more tips on helping your child grow a big heart this school year, text HEART to 274 448.

September 6, 2021 by Julia Levy 0 Comments

Construya un Mundo Bueno con Su Hijo/a

¡La amabilidad importa! Una persona puede ayudar a otras personas y al planeta, y también le ayuda a si mismo. Las investigaciones muestran que cando haces cosas bondadosas por los demás, grandes o pequeños, se vuelve más feliz y saludable. 

Este mes, Big Heart World se une a nuestros amigos de Too Small To Fail de la Fundación Clinton para unirse a # BeKind21 de la Fundación Born This Way de Lady Gaga, un movimiento que nos pide a todos que hagamos algo amable durante los primeros 21 días de septiembre para flexione nuestros músculos de la bondad y construya una cultura de bondad y compasión.

Aquí hay un calendario con ideas que lo inspirarán a usted y a su familia a difundir la bondad este mes:

Esperamos que estas ideas se inspiren a usted y a su hijo/a, y estamos ansiosos por escuchar cómo hace del mundo un lugar más amable y valiente. ¡Comparte con el hashtag #BeKind21 con nosotros en Facebook o Instagram!

Puede registrar y hacer el compromiso # BeKind21 usted mismo: https://bornthisway.foundation/bekind21.

September 1, 2021 by Julia Levy 0 Comments

Build a Kind World With Your Child!

Kindness matters! Being kind can help other people and the planet, and it also helps YOU. Research shows when you do kind things for others — big or small — you get happier and healthier!

This month, Big Heart World is teaming up with our friends at the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small To Fail to join Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation’s #BeKind21 — a movement that asks all of us to do something kind for the first 21 days in September to flex our kindness muscles and build a culture of kindness and compassion. 

Here’s a calendar with ideas to inspire you and your family to spread kindness this month:

We hope these ideas inspire you and your little one, and we can’t wait to hear how you make the world a kinder, braver place! Share with the hashtag #BeKind21 with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Please sign up and take the the #BeKind21 pledge yourself: https://bornthisway.foundation/bekind21.

Born This Way Foundation launched #BeKind21 in 2018 to invite participants to practice an act of kindness for themselves and others each day from September 1st to September 21st to build kinder, connected communities that foster mental wellness. 

July 4, 2021 by Becki Last 0 Comments

Friendship Starts with Kindness: 5 Books For Your Home or Classroom Library

Friends

Do you remember how you met your childhood best friend? Not where or when you met them, but how you met them?

Did you bond over a favorite crayon or say “hi” at the swings? Maybe they invited you to their lunch table in the cafeteria? As with any relationship, friendships start with kindness.

Where do children learn these important life lessons?

Children mimic what they see IRL, but books are also a great resource to help model important qualities of friendship like kindness, compassion, generosity, and self-esteem.

First Book’s mission focuses on educator support to provide equal access to education; however, many of our resources also support families. Our guides and resources support a variety of topics, including friendship and emotional development. These books would be a great addition to a classroom or home library.

First Book's Friendship Book Picks

To celebrate July’s Big Heart World Friendship theme, our title selection team has hand-picked five picture books that are ideal for children in pre-kindergarten through second grade.

Eligible educators, supporting Title I schools and organizations, can shop this collection on our Marketplace for brand-new books at a reduced cost. Families can shop these titles and support First Book through Bookshop.org.

Friendship Starts With Kindness!

May 2, 2021 by Veronica L Tapia 0 Comments

Parenting with a Big Heart

This week, my four-year-old daughter, Abigail Rose, told me that her best friend had punched her at school. I asked if she had told her teacher what happened and she said yes, and that he had gotten in “big trouble” for what he did. 

Rather than being pleased her friend had been disciplined, my daughter was sad about it.  

“Mom, I asked Ms. Valerie if his time out could be over because he already said he was sorry, and I already forgave him and he’s my friend,” she told me. 

My big-hearted baby girl is growing up so quickly and I am so proud of so many of the choices she makes every day:

choices to be kind, gracious, loving, and compassionate. No one is even allowed to kill a bug in her presence because she says that God put her in this world to help care for all creatures, big and small. 

So, how did I ever get so lucky? Truly, I don’t think luck has anything to do with it.

Children, from the earliest age, begin to absorb everything around them. The things they see, feel, hear, and experience in their earliest years of life become a part of who they are and who they will one day become. Our children may not remember every moment of their early childhood, but what they will always remember is how we made them feel. How I treat them now is how they will grow up to treat others.

My Abby is incredibly sweet and a wonderful little human, but she is also sassy and spicy and she gives me a run for my money! 

I see so much of myself in her and whenever she is giving me a hard time, I try my best to react in love because I know that on my hardest days, I need a little extra love, too.

When she cries because it’s clean up time and the floor is literally covered in toys to the point where you can no longer see the carpet underneath, I validate her feelings and we clean up together because I know how it feels to be overwhelmed. When she is on edge right before her dance recital, I try to remember that she has a tummy full of butterflies and I let her know that it is okay to be nervous and that I’ll be there to support her, no matter what. I live by the golden rule with my children, always keeping in mind how I might feel in their shoes. 

My second child, August Rain, was born with a neural tube defect that completely turned our world upside-down. He had a major spinal surgery at four months old, multiple hospitalizations, and a variety of challenges that we faced together as a family in his first two years of life. 

There were times I held my daughter as I cried over her baby brother and I would explain that Mommy was feeling sad and scared and that everyone feels those things sometimes but what’s important is that we talk to someone that can help us to feel better, that we cry when we need to and that we don’t try to hide how we feel. I do not hide my heart from my children, I share it with them. 

I see now how those experiences have left life-long impressions on my daughter’s heart. Last week, I had a mini meltdown at my computer when August interrupted me for the 500th time while I was busy working and I just couldn’t hold back my tears any longer. 

Abby came up and said, “It’s okay, Mommy, I’m here to help you feel better.” Oh, my heart. 

Becoming a special needs mom has made me even more passionate about my mission to spread kindness by raising kind kids. 

I believe that the best way to raise kids with big hearts is to parent with a big heart. We lead by example and it can be incredibly challenging to be that role model of grace and kindness all the time but when we see our babies growing into these amazing, compassionate little people, it is absolutely worth it.

February 23, 2021 by admin 0 Comments

11 Ways to Raise Kind Kids

An expert in cultivating kindness shares practical tips with Noggin parents.

Dr. Thomas Lickona wrote the book on raising kind kids: How to Raise Kind Kids. Now he’s sharing some winning strategies that Noggin families can try to power up kindness in their own homes.

“You can coach kindness just like you would coach a sport,” he said. “You have to do it patiently. You have to demonstrate it, and then you give your child a chance to imitate what you’ve just demonstrated. Then you have to practice it, give positive, encouraging feedback, and then gradually back off and watch them do it with less help.”

Here are 11 specific ideas that Dr. Lickona (very kindly!) shared with Noggin:

1. Talk the Talk!

Research shows that when parents tell kids they are “kind” and “generous” people (rather than praising a behavior as kind), kids start to think of themselves as kind people. Dr. Lickona explains, “They take pride in being that sort of person, the kind of person who shares, the sort of person who is generous.” Try saying: “You are such a kind big brother to help your sister find her teddy bear” or “You are a generous person! That’s why you shared your cookie.”

2.  Give Kids Real Responsibilities 

Consider giving your kids one chore for each year of age to help them learn to take pride in being helpful. Dr. Lickona notes that being helpful is at the core of kindness: “It means being aware of others’ needs, noticing them, helping without being asked.” He said kids are capable of a lot more than parents might realize at home: they can help care for siblings, clear the table, make beds, sweep…

3.  Set a Good Example

Be kind to your family members, your friends, and other people you interact with. Ask others how they are, listen, and offer to help. Kids are watching and will learn from your example.

4.  Make Sure Your Kids Pay Attention to Your Good Example

Your kids are watching you…but make sure they understand what you’re doing and why. For example, if you donate to a local library, you could tell your child, “I love books because they help us learn and imagine, and I love our local library because it helps all kids find books they’ll love. When I can, I give money to the library to help more kids read great books!”

5.  Create a Peace Table at Home

Create a “talk it out space” or “peace table” where family members can go to go to solve problems. When two people arrive at the table, they should take two deep breaths. Each should talk about what he or she wants. Then each person should talk together about what’s fair, and compromise. This will help your kids learn that it’s OK to have conflicts … and then work them out with kindness and respect.

6.  Share Real-Life Examples of Kind Kids

Dr. Lickona said sharing stories of kind things other kids have done can inspire your kids to think creatively about how they can help. For example, he shared the story of a 4-year-old neuroblastoma patient, Alex Scott, who raised $2,000 with a lemonade stand in her front yard to help doctors find cures for kids battling cancer. That lemonade stand has turned into a non-profit cancer research organization that has funded nearly 1,000 research projects at 135 institutions.

7. Read/Watch Kindness Focused Stories

It’s important to model kindness for your kids — but it’s also important to expose them to stories and characters (from books, TV, or movies) that show kids the goodness in the world. “When you see all those different examples, you then start to have a conversation: ‘Well, what can we do? What can we do in our neighborhood? What can we do in our community?’”

8. Be a Family on a Mission

Dr. Lickona said creating a family mission statement highlighting kindness helps families create a higher sense of purpose. “It becomes your reference point as a family, something that guides you is everyday family life. You really develop a sense of who you are as a family, a shared sense of purpose, a shared identity: this is who we are as a family, we care about these things.”

9. Clean Up Your Neighborhood 

When Dr. Lickona takes his grandkids for walks, he tells them there are three kinds of citizens: the kind who litters, the kind who never litters, and the kind who picks up litter to make the community clean and beautiful for everybody. “That becomes part of their identity,” he said. “You can do this kind of thing at a very early age. And the wonderful thing is that kids will take pleasure in it.”

10. Volunteer Together

Find local causes — from helping at a soup kitchen to cleaning up a local park — that matter to your family and volunteer together. Kids will remember the experience, and it will help them learn how to empathize with others.

11. Support a Cause You Care About

Dr. Lickona recommends designating three family jars for coins: spending, saving, and giving. Your child can help to pick a charity where they can donate the “giving” coins once the jar is full.

Are there any other ways YOUR family likes to teach your kids kindness? Share your tricks on Noggin’s Facebook!