Over the years I had tried numerous solutions to teach kindness. When I heard unkind words, I had the children say something kind about the person they hurt. When something mean was done, I would have them do an act of kindness for that person. If they were concerned about being first, I had them let the other person be first. I even tried having them write Ephesians 4:32 ten times after an offense. They all know how to spell every single word in that verse! I remember one of the boys at the age of nine being quite proud of the fact he could spell "compassionate." :0) However, here is the idea that came about out of sheer desperation on my part.
If you are unkind to each other you will:
- Hold hands for 10 minutes.
- Get to choose one activity to do with the other. Then you will spend 20 minutes each playing with the other person in their activity.
I remember as soon as we established these guidelines, one of the boys purposefully plopped down in the chair he knew his sister wanted for Bible class. My husband had him sit by Amber and hold her hand during Bible class. Then after Bible class, he had to play dolls with Amber for 20 minutes before they could eat breakfast. Amber enjoyed herself thoroughly. Not very often did she get one of her five brothers to play dolls with her. I do have to commend my son for his attitude throughout the ordeal. I think he decided he'd best be cheerful and get it over with.
We were consistent with this method for a couple months and saw some significant improvement. One positive aspect was that the children often ended up having fun together by the time it was over. It also gave them a way to put into practice what we were trying to teach.
What methods have you used to teach kindness?