Kindness in Education

Can kindness be taught? Do humans develop kindness naturally, or must we teach our children to be kind? If you believe that kindness is something we learn, does it have a place in academic curriculums?
We are raising and educating our children in the most competitive academic era that our global society has ever known. Applications to the right preschools now outnumber applications to universities. Middle school sports teams increasingly demand private athletic coaching to ensure a child’s placement on the team. And pressure to score high on college entrance exams has driven some students to unthinkable levels of cheating and mind stimulating drug use.
In the face of all these educational challenges, kindness actually helps our children succeed. Kindness raises students’ self-esteem and enhances the learning environment. Minds are open and available to greater memory retention in non-hostile settings. So, whether academically proficient or not, students are given a way to excel through kindness.
It’s not only struggling students who benefit from a climate of good will. During difficult or stressful times, students are empowered when they take positive action and extend kindness and support to their fellow students. Kindness encourages empathy and helps develop valuable interpersonal skills that will help children succeed in every setting throughout their entire lives.
Schools are a great place to build on the beneficial principles of kindness that our children have been nurtured with at home. And if a child has not been gifted a kind loving home, our schools are a great place to start learning about it.
On the wall of the fifth-grade classroom at Willow Creek Academy, there are pictures and writings about kindness: kindness to the earth and kindness to one another. The fifth grade students came up with the idea for the “Kindness Project” independently. The year-long project provides opportunities for students to think deeply about how to keep their classroom community friendly and safe for everyone. Meegan Devol, their teacher, has integrated kindness into reading and writing projects, and the class regularly discusses kindness in class meetings.Devol shares, “We are focusing on eliminating put-downs from our class entirely. I know some people say, ‘They’re just playing around’ or ‘That’s what kids do;’ however, if a child does not feel safe in the classroom environment, they will not take chances in the classroom and learning will suffer. Thankfully, we made it through today with only one put-down. Furthermore, many of the students gave each other compliments throughout the day. I am so proud of room 25!”
Is it possible to learn kindness at almost age or at any time during your life? The answer is yes! I was reminded of an important lesson in kindness from my son when he was only five years old. As we walked in Union Square in San Francisco on a chilly afternoon, my son generously offered his warm wooly scarf to a homeless man sitting on the edge of the sidewalk. At first, I wanted to snatch his scarf back from the man, but then I stopped to think why my son might have offered his scarf. And then I remembered the quote, “A little child shall lead them.”
Kindness is a great lesson, and not just for tomorrow’s leaders. This week we will be high-lighting standout programs and school across the country educating children on the importance of kindness. Do you know a teacher who deserves a sincere thank you?
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Kindness Is The Best Foreplay

Kindness Is the Best Foreplay

Nothing, and I mean nothing, does more to advance intimacy, in or out of the bedroom, than kindness. A little tenderness goes a long way.

A friend of mine thought of making a sign with a green side that reads “Getting Lucky Tonight” and a red side that reads “Not Getting Lucky Tonight” as an inspirational tool for encouraging behavioral shifts in relationships. It’s kind of like that hilarious book, Porn for Women, in which men do chores to turn women on. Works like a charm.

Intimacy, sexual intimacy specifically, requires the establishment of safety and comfort. When people are kind, caring, present and attentive during sex, everyone has a better time. Just think of the encounters you’ve had. Was it rude and dismissive comments that seduced you? Or was it sweet and heartfelt whispers that made you swoon? Research indicates that the top 5 qualities that make someone sexy are confidence, kindness, stability, abs (duh) and leadership. We even see popular culture showing more examples of attractive and sweet sex symbols. Just check out any Nicolas Sparks movie.

So the next time you want to spice up your love life, add a little sugar to the loving kindness and watch what happens. After all, even the bible says, “The desire of a man is his kindness.”

Perform 2 Acts of Kindness and Call Me in the Morning

The results are in: kindness promotes a longer and healthier life. It’s like the ultimate happy pill. But unlike drugs, addiction to kindness is good for you.

Scientific research shows that being kind is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Performing kind acts can significantly improve mental, emotional and physical health, and even helps diminish symptoms of physical diseases and psychological disorders. In his book, The Pleasure Prescription, Dr. Paul Pearsall writes: “In concrete terms, there seems to be a biological reward for doing the right thing. It is not necessary to carry out major acts of kindness to gain the health benefit. In fact it has been found that brief, small, regular acts of kindness yield the highest health benefits.”

According to Allan Luks and Peggy Payne in their book The Healing Power of Doing Good, kindness:

  • Promoted optimism
  • Heightens our sense of well-being, and can even bring on a euphoric state
  • Increases energy levels
  • Decreases feelings of loneliness, depression and helplessness
  • Increases sense of connectedness with others
  • Helps achieves a greater sense of calmness and relaxation
  • Enables better weight control
  • Reduces symptoms of insomnia
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Reduces pain
  • Improves circulation and reduces high blood pressure and coronary disease
  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves arthritis and asthma
  • Increases recovery  from surgery
  • Reduces cancer activity

A participant in Luks’ research relates his story: “Some months ago I was so stressed out that I could barely get four hours sleep at night, and I had all sorts of aches and pains. I had even tried antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs, but to no avail. I then found out first hand that it is love that truly heals. When I do nice things for others, I definitely feel a physical response. For me it is mostly a relaxation of muscles that I hadn’t even realized had been tensed. I can now sleep well at night, and most of my aches and pains have disappeared.”

So why does kindness make you feel so good? There are two reasons. The first is that performing acts of kindness takes our mind off our own problems. The second is that while performing an act of kindness, our bodies reward us by triggering the release of endorphins, an endogenous opioid peptide that gives us a sense of exhilaration and wellbeing, helps reduce the intensity of pain messages sent to the brain, and boosts our immune systems.

There is one important catch. In order to benefit from a kind act, we must do it without expectations. If we expect recognition and the act of kindness is not acknowledged or appreciated, we might end up feeling angry or disappointed. In this mindset, the chemical benefit is lost. The negative feelings cause cellular inflammation, which is actually damaging to our health.

Like other things that impact our health, kindness is contagious. It has a ripple effect. When people receive or observe kindness, they are inspired to be kind themselves. In effect, when we choose to do a kind deed, we are actively helping reduce world tension by starting the healing process one person at a time. It begins with us.

A Mother’s Gift From Heaven

My dear friend from high-school, Moira, honored us with this story about her mother….My mom passed away nearly 6 years ago after a courageous battle with breast cancer. She was a wonderful mom in many ways and she taught my three sisters and I many lessons. Some hard, some easy, but all unforgettable Towards the end of my mom’s illness, I was in awe of the way she owned and accepted her own imminent mortality. With At Home Hospice, she began tying up loose ends putting sticky notes on jewelry, explaining the pieces history, planning her own funeral – a graveside farewell with no black allowed! One day she told me to get a large wrapped box out of the spare bedroom closet. I went right away, as usual, doing what I’m told. I brought the box into her and she said, “No, you keep it.” I joked and said “You shouldn’t have!”, having no idea what was inside. She said “No, it’s not for you…it’s for Elle”. Elle is my daughter who was 1 1/2 years old at the time. My mom proceeded to tell me to keep the gift in a safe place and to give it to her on her 5th birthday.

My mom passed away a few short weeks later. I did as I was instructed. I kept that present in a safe place though I checked on it and wondered about it over the years. Finally, I presented it to Elle on her 5th birthday. Elle tore it open…pretending to read the card that said “Happy Birthday Eleanor. Love,  GaGa”. Inside was a beautiful American Girl Doll that looked just like Elle…long blonde hair, blue eyes, just beautiful. Elle was aglow! She jumped up and down hugging the doll and then began thanking me. I told her that it was from her grandmother, GaGa. Now, Elle knew that GaGa was my mom and was in heaven and although she met Gaga , she didn’t remember her she was just a baby. Elle looked confused and asked me “How did GaGa get this to me from heaven?” I kept it simple and told her that GaGa was very smart and knew that  you would love a doll that looked just like you!” Again, she beamed and asked “How does she know what I look like?” And I replied, with a lump in my throat, “Because you look just like me”.

Are You My Mother?

Remember that book about the baby chick that embarks on a journey to find its mother? In the book, the chick asks a dog, a cat, a cow and many others, “Are you my mother?”

I have been that chick. I severed my relationship with my mother when I was 17. For many years, I made many of the women in my life my ‘surrogate’ mothers and projected every unresolved mommy issue I carried onto those poor souls. That’s a lot of baggage to dump on someone, but somehow most of them put up with me, helped me realize that they were not my mama bird, and loved me through my struggles.

Long after I became a mother myself, I realized that I wasn’t really searching for my mother. I was searching for my ideal mother—the one I wanted and expected, but never got. Through the process of motherless mothering and a perennial search for a person that existed only in my unrealistic, unmet expectations, I traded in my militant self-pity for feelings of compassion, forgiveness, comfort, warmth and love.

In recent years, I have reconnected with my mother, who I now not only accept, but appreciate. I am very grateful to the proverbial dog, cat, cow and others who set me straight and led me on a path back to my own mama bird.

Each relationship that forms between a mother and child is unique and special in its own way. What is the relationship like between you and your mother?

Kindness is for Tree Hugging Hippies

That’s what I thought before I moved to California from the Right Coast. The word kindness triggered images of wishy-washy, bleeding-heart suckers. This, of course, says a lot about the person I was when I moved here. It also speaks volumes about how, kindness was (and wasn’t) modeled for me. In short, kindness scared me. It was unfamiliar. I didn’t trust people who were kind to me. Why are they being nice to me? What do they really want? Growing up, I was programmed to take and hoard. Operating from a scarcity mentality, I still find myself subconsciously thinking and acting out on the idea that there is not enough of everything I need or want. If I believe there is not enough to go around, and I am looking to only take care of me and mine, giving and kindness are easily forgotten. I am pretty sure, deep down inside, kindness is my natural way of being and I lost touch with it somewhere along the way. Maybe that is why kindness can trigger me. It reminds me of the essential goodness of that caring child. Can you relate to my story? Does it trigger you? In which ways? Do you have another point of view to share?

Kindness Family Values

Our parents modeled kindness (or, the lack of) in relationships, informing our basis for how we relate to others. Are you more often kind or unkind? Reflection and integration of past lessons can transform how we choose to be today. Every day will not be a perfect day in your family. However, if kindness is an important family value it’s worth the effort to cultivate it, right? How do you cultivate kindness in your family?