K for Kindness

How do I teach my child to be kind and care for others?

Parents ask me how to teach a child to be kind, how to teach them to care for others because ultimately they want the raise a kind child.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of kindness around in the world at the moment. I came across the idea of random acts of kindness a few years ago, and I was really struck by that. Well, wouldn't it be great if there were more random acts of kindness? And so kindness is usually looked at, you know, something that we do, and, you know, an act of something that we do to somebody else and hopefully make their day. So, what random act of kindness could you do today? That would put a smile on somebody's face. Wouldn't that be a lovely thing to do? I'm thinking, what can I do now? And it gives us some thought, I could come up with a random act of kindness.

Yeah, okay, I've got one. I'm not going to say what it is. Because - well no, I think I need to do two now. Oh, that's too much. That's being too kind. What if the people listening to this, watching this video today could be some little kindness bandits going around giving out some random acts of kindness today? How would that be as an antidote for everything that's going on in the world right now?

I want to talk about something else about kindness. And I want to talk about being kind to ourselves. Now, being kind to ourselves, to me is the very essence of that is ignoring the voice in our head that's beating ourselves up. The voice in the head that beat ourselves up. So, where does this come from? Because we weren't born with that voice in our head, were we. A new-born baby or a little kid, a baby with a nappy on doesn't turn around and  say does my bum look big in this? So what else would a baby not say? I'm not getting the hang of this walking malarkey fast enough, I should be doing this faster. Should be learning to walk faster. I should have a smaller bum. And oh, I'll be happy when I get when I get my Ferrari. I need this. This little toy car that I've got is no good. I need a Ferrari and then I'll be happy. 

The voice in our head, we pick it up from the world around us. We get this idea that we're not good enough from the world around us. And maybe our parents don't think that they're good enough. Maybe our teachers don't think that, maybe our elder brothers or sisters don't think that, you know, maybe the kids at school don't think that they're good enough. It's all one big inherited lie. 

So you can try and change the voice in your head, you can have an argument with the voice in your head. But that doesn't seem to work from my experience. The only way to be kind to yourself in this sense is to fully realise, to fully understand, to deeply get it in your bones, that the voice in your head is a liar. And once you've seen that it's a liar, you see its words as lies. It's not your voice. It's the words of others. It's somebody else's voice. Then you ignore it. Ignore it until you fall for it again. This isn't a once in forever thing. This is a once and often thing, catching the voice in your head lying to you. 

And that for me, that voice in my head came from being bullied on scout camp and messing up a lot. Because I'm not a particularly practical guy so I collected wood that wasn't ready for burning. I couldn't get the fire going, I couldn't clean the pots well enough. The guy, the patrol leader guy, was a constant critic. And so he made me kneel on there, and he made me kneel on there, the wet grass and repeat after him. I am a stupid, worthless effing piece of s. 

And I took those words in and I believe that. So the external bully became the bully in my head. And the bully kind of took on my voice. It sounded like me, it sounded like it was me. So there's the lies came in to me, I believed them to be true. And I repeated the back to me repeating the back to me, but they weren't my words. They weren't the truth. They came from outside me. And I believed them. So the biggest thing you can do for yourself, in my opinion, is to ignore those negative voices. The negative voice in your head, trying to fight it, trying to reprogram it, we couldn't do it and do that. Try to reprogram them, couldn't do that. You might, you might find a way to do that. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. If you can do that, then you've really got it cracked. 

The easiest way I've seen working with other parents is to ignore them. But here is the really good news. Kids learn to ignore that voice in the head. Just like that. That's what so inspires me about working with kids. They learn in an instant, that their feelings only ever come from their thoughts. They learn in an instant that nobody can actually make them feel bad about themselves. And when they share that with me, wow, that’s my heart racing. I'm going to leave you with that, hopefully with that hopeful message. And as a reminder, yeah, two things. What could you do as a random act of kindness today or two or three, and ignore that negative voice in your head. It's not you, it's not your voice, and it's not true. See you soon, bye. 

So this is all about being kind to yourself. That’s the ultimate kindness. Self-kindness. I think I’ve created a new word. If you’re going to talk to yourself like we all do, you may as well be kind.

Simon Benn Children's Happiness Expert

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