As the studies continues to show, cultivating empathy in our children is one of the most critical ways we can give back to our children. Why? As Michelle Borba (the author of an incredible book called Unselfie) writes:
“For starters, the ability to empathize affects our kids’ future health, wealth, authentic happiness, relationship satisfaction, and ability to bounce back from adversity. It promotes kindness, prosocial behaviors, and moral courage, and it is an effective antidote to bullying, aggression, prejudice and racism. Empathy is also a positive predictor of children’s reading and math test scores and critical thinking skills, prepares kids for the global world, and gives them a job market boost. It’s why Forbes urges companies to adopt empathy and perspective-taking principles, the Harvard Business Review named it as one of the “essential ingredients for leadership success and excellent performance,” and the Association of American Medical Colleges identified it as an “essential learning objective.” In today’s world, empathy equals success, and it’s what I call the Empathy Advantage that will give our children the edge they need to live meaningful, productive, and happy lives and thrive in a complex new world. Empathy is core to everything that makes a society civilized, but above all, it makes our children better people”
As Michelle notes in her book, the “empathy capacity” is something that we build, and with the right guidance from caring adults, we can train the “empathy muscle” in our children to be stronger. This is something my husband and I are both very committed to doing with our girls. As a family, we express gratitude to one another almost daily- either at dinner or before bedtime. We have volunteered through wonderful organizations like Give Together and Best Buddies. And now with close friends, we have started organizing mindful community service projects with our local neighborhoods.
But like many of our Mindful Littles activities, I want to teach my kids about kindness through fun family activities – something we enjoy doing together with regular consistency. So this week I started the #WeeklyKindnessProject. Each week my girls and I will do a simple kindness project together- such as baking cookies for our neighbor or learning about compassion through story time. Our projects will be simple, easy and enjoyable, so that it never feels like a burden to do them even during our busiest weeks. And I can already tell even just after our first weekly project, that this kindness initiative will help us parents, as much as it does our littles.
As we do our weekly projects, I’ll share our updates on this blog tagging them: #WeeklyKindnessProject. If you have ideas for a #WeeklyKindnessProject or want to join our kindness quest and start doing these at home, we would love to hear your ideas, so please share your ideas/practices and tag them: #WeeklyKindnessProject. And spread the word…the more #WeeklyKindnessProjects we can get going, the better for all of us!