Top 10 Kindful Kids of 2019

January 04, 2020

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Top 10 Kindful Kids Of 2019

Each new year offers us the opportunity to reflect on the year gone and plant seeds to co-create a more beautiful year ahead together with our families.  As our team of four volunteer editors looked back on the journey we’ve been on together over the past 52 weeks of Kindful Kids, we want to share our gratitude with everyone in this community for honoring your intentions to raise compassionate, empathetic, kind and generous children.  We hope you enjoy our selection of the Top 10 Kindful Kids of 2019 and we wish you and your families love, joy and togetherness in 2020!

Exploring Empathy as a Family

"Many parents believe empathy is one of those soft skills, like courage or humility, that are important to healthy development. However, empathy reigns supreme among social-emotional skills and plays a surprising role in predicting kids’ life-long success. When children develop empathy, research shows they thrive in school and life. They also learn to impact their communities in positive, often extraordinary ways.  As parents, we must ask, “Have we misled children to believe success is achieved through test scores, material wealth, and personal gain alone?” What other ways should we define success? As families, we have a moral imperative to rethink how we teach kids to care in a more hurried, complex, and data-driven world. In fact, individual and societal success depends on our ability to do so". 

Supporting Boys to Embrace Diverse Emotions

"If having lots of different emotions is good for our health as adults, then shouldn't we be fostering the experience of a diverse range of emotions in young children, as well? And yet the research suggests we are not fostering emotional diversity from a young age, especially when it comes to raising young boys.  Regardless of whether gender differences in adult behavior arise from conscious or unconscious psychological processes, one thing is clear: Boys grow up in a world inhabited by a narrower range of emotions, one in which their experiences of anger are noticed, inferred, and potentially even cultivated. This leaves other emotions—particularly the more vulnerable emotions—sorely ignored or missing in their growing minds." 

Ian: a Moving Film on Playground Inclusion

"All kids want to play. Kids with disabilities are no different. “Ian” is a short, animated film inspired by a real-life boy, which sets out to show that children with disabilities can and should be included. The real Ian is a fourth grader who, like most fourth graders, wants to play with his friends. But because some kids are not used to someone like Ian—someone who has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair, and a computer that works with his eye movements to communicate—they bully him and don’t include him when they play. This short film does not use dialogues to express children’s feelings, which makes it even more inclusive so that all people, regardless of language, race, color or flag, are able to understand the message of love.

Teaching Children To Care For Others

"How do we increase the happiness and well-being of every child?  We start by teaching children to care about others every day throughout the year.  Learning to be givers shapes children’s values and provides opportunities to develobp kindness, a virtue that improves lives and reduces violence and bullying.  Empathy is our ability to recognize and respond to the needs and suffering of others. We can see empathy-in-action all around us. In Tomorrow’s Change Makers: Reclaiming the Power of Citizenship for a New Generation, young people describe the transformative power of empathy and how it motivated them to make a difference for others. An important part of our internal compass, empathy includes the ways we show caring and compassion to people in our lives."

The Value Of Making Mistakes

"Watching our children make mistakes is painful, and this goes for electrocution as well as broken hearts. Whether they’re falling out with friends or off a climbing frame, our instinct is to protect our children. Yet they learn important lessons from making mistakes, and gain confidence when they spring back from them. An important part of emotional intelligence is knowing what to do after you’ve made a mistake.  ‘Learning to control anger and frustration are the building blocks for coping in life,’ says Dr John Buckner from Harvard Medical School. We often stop children from making mistakes to save them feeling distressed. But young children aren’t afraid of messing up. It’s only as we grow older and become socially conscious that we learn to associate blunders with shame. "

Self Compassion And Emotional Wellness For Kids

"Many of today’s parents and teachers came of age in the 1980s and 1990s — a time when the self-esteem movement was in its zenith. Self-esteem was supposed to be a panacea for a variety of social challenges, from substance abuse to violent crime. The research, however, did not support such broad claims.  If teachers and parents want children to develop resilience and strength, a better approach is to teach them self-compassion, said Dr. Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at the University of Texas and author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. “Self-esteem is a judgment about how valuable I am: very valuable, not so good, not valuable at all.”  In contrast, “self-compassion isn’t about self-evaluation at all,” said Neff. “It’s about being kind to oneself. Self-compassion is a healthy source of self-worth because it’s not contingent and it's unconditional. It’s much more stable over time because it is not dependent on external markers of success such as grades.”

Raising Our Children to be Earth's Stewards

Teaching our children to care for the earth is integral to teaching compassion. And as future generations work to combat climate change, the planet's health will be front and center in our children's lives. How to get started? This week's feature offers some small, fun ways your family can learn to become earth advocates. While studying how your family's habits could change, discuss the importance of living as sustainably as possible.  Here are some questions that can get the conversations rolling: What good things are we already doing in our day to help the earth? What simple changes can our family make to take even better care of our planet? For example, do we ever take too many paper napkins at a restaurant? Are we remembering to compost tea bags and paper egg cartons? Are we using too much plastic by drinking bottled water? Why is it important to be good about: recycling? composting? turning off the lights? taking shorter showers? turning off the water while brushing our teeth? Why is it sometimes hard to make even small changes like these?

Choose Love

"My parenting mantra is "Choose Love." This reminds me that in any situation where fear is tightening its grip or anger is building toward an explosion, I can defuse the situation. I may not know what to do or say. I may be scared, or angry. But I always have the choice to turn away from fear or anger, to open the door and let love in.    I can't always pull this off, but when I can, it always transforms the situation. In fact, it can turn things around so completely that it feels miraculous." This week's featured article by Dr. Laura Markham offers insights into how we can embrace compassionate and mindful parenting by choosing love."

How to Get Your Child Excited About Nature

"Parents need to teach children in a simple but deliberate way how to understand and interact with the natural environment. If this curiosity is not stimulated, it gradually dulls as the many distractions of modern life fill the child’s interest.  When a child becomes excited by nature, he/she gains access to its inherent rewards – inspiration, entertainment, comfort and perspective. As our modern life becomes more complex and over-stimulating, an appreciation of our natural world offers the child a gift that will last a lifetime."

Cultivating Intellectual Humility

“I disagree with myself.” This is what a third-grade boy said in front of his math class during a discussion about even and odd numbers. He believed six was both even and odd. When one classmate presented counterevidence, he considered her point. “I didn’t think of it that way,” he said. “Thank you for bringing that up.”  This third grader was exhibiting intellectual humility—recognizing the limits of his knowledge and valuing the insight of someone else. In a culture in which confidence is admired and mistakes mocked, his admission is commendable. But does such intellectual humility have any real benefits for learning? My colleagues and I set out to test whether intellectual humility was empirically associated with learning outcomes. We found that the more intellectually humble students were more motivated to learn and more likely to use effective metacognitive strategies, like quizzing themselves to check their own understanding. They also ended the year with higher grades in math. We also found that the teachers, who hadn’t seen students’ intellectual humility questionnaires, rated the more intellectually humble students as more engaged in learning.”

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