KINDness is always in season!

KINDness is always in season!

KINDness is always in season!

KINDness is a lifestyle, not just an act. It's never too early to embrace the lifestyle of KINDness, lead by example and teach our little ones.

Lucy Bruce, founder of Harmony House, co-founder of Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery and investor in The Giving Movement shares her expertise on the subject of paying it forward.

As parents, nothing makes us prouder than to see our children being kind, thoughtful and considerate of others. However, teaching a young child who has not yet understood that the needs of others can sometimes come before our own is not an easy task and one that we want to carry out with thought, gentleness, and sensitivity, while honouring our child’s own feelings.

It is only natural that we want to protect our little ones from some of the harsh realities of the world we live in for as long as possible, and I understand the urge to do this. However, this was not the approach that I decided to take with my own children. I made the decision from day one that I wanted my children to learn about humanity, the gap between privileged and poverty and how they can always choose to do something to help a person in need.

I choose to do this through teaching my children how to turn thoughts that may lead us to feel sad, guilty, or concerned about a situation into empathy and, in turn, let empathy lead to action that can help. I was surprised that even as young as two years old, my children had learned to show compassion for others and model kindness in ways that left my heart bursting with pride.

As a family that runs a charity in India for underprivileged children, we had the advantage of being able to expose my family to the disadvantages that so many people are born into.

Through spending time at Harmony House and visiting the areas where these slum children live, we had opportunities to talk about privilege and the responsibilities that come with it. But these were not the only opportunities I used to make conversations and actions around kindness, caring, and compassion a part of our everyday routine.

There are days that go by when we are busy, or we want to keep things positive, so these may not be the right times to dig deeper into kindness and compassion. But when you do feel an opportunity arises, grab it and see how your children surprise you with how kind and aware they are. We have to cultivate that to ensure that our children live life with purpose and gratitude into adulthood. We can all make a positive impact, no matter what age, but we need the courage and support to be able to do this.

Give gratitude for simple things

We made the word ‘gifts’ relate to things we were truly grateful for and not something that comes wrapped in a bow. At night, we acknowledged how blessed we were for the gift of our comfortable bed and safe room. Mealtimes were a chance to be grateful for food and nutrients.

Getting showered and dressed provided time to talk about those who do not have clean clothes and a place to wash. We can’t do this all the time, but during the week there are many opportunities to give gratitude, think about those less fortunate, and think of small ways that we can take action.

Model kindness

I learnt not to walk away from situations that I would perhaps normally ignore or turn a blind eye to. When we saw people who were visibly asking for help, I would make a point to stop and ask how they were or smile and start a conversation, knowing my children were observing and processing. Listening to others' stories of challenges can generate empathy which can lead to action and solutions.

Discuss and acknowledge when I could have done something differently

If I made a mistake or treated someone unkindly, I always acknowledged this in front of my children and discussed how I could have done things differently. I used mistakes as a teaching tool to review how we can improve and learn on a daily basis.

Role reversing

In Dubai, we are very fortunate to have lots of people who help us. We chose special days for our children to reverse roles. For example, at Christmas, we would make a special lunch for our helpers and serve them and let them relax while we tidied and cleaned up.

Visit charities and NGOs

Whilst we have always enjoyed the privileges of being able to travel, whenever we could, we would do something to give back to the country that hosted us. We have visited wonderful children’s charities where our children have delivered items in need or volunteered all around the world, and we started this very young.

It has given my children the opportunity to understand the many challenges that people experience across the globe and understand that they can generate a positive impact wherever they are.

Sort and give preloved items together

We are fortunate to have everything we need and more, and my children had new clothes and toys for every stage of their growth and development. When we no longer had use for these items, we would sort and organise their preloved belongings so that someone who needs them can have them.

Some went to charities, some were given to people we knew who needed them for their families. It was something small we could do to help someone that didn’t have these luxuries.

Ask important questions

I try to lean into the questions that I find difficult or those that may be easier for me to avoid. For example, ‘Can you think in your head of anyone at school who may be feeling sad or lonely? What could you do to help them?’. ‘If you could change one thing for someone, who would it be and why?’. ‘Is there anything you could have done differently today to make someone’s day better?’."