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Educate Children, Using a Kindly Tongue

November, 2010
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“Clean up that mess!”, “Wash your hands before eating!”, “Change those dirty socks!”, “Use shampoo for your hair!” How often do we hear ourselves shouting such commands at our children?

It’s really not an easy task to use a kindly tongue especially after a hard day’s work, after having cleaned up the house perfectly and have the kids return from school with mud on their shoes and throwing their bags and clothes all over the place.

We often wonder what would be a good way to balance discipline with kindness. The answer may well lie in ‘empathy’ - put yourself in the shoes of your child and see things from his or her vantage point.

Imagine you return home from school, exhausted from a whole day of physical and mental exertion, and angry with the teacher for marking you down because of poor handwriting. You enter the house and you hear this sergeant splattering orders at you in a hysterical voice. What would be your reaction? 

Now imagine another scenario - you enter the house and you are given a hug and hear kind words of welcome, you are invited to take a warm shower while the meal is being heated up, and in the course of the meal, a listening ear is paying careful attention to your complains. How would you feel?

Rule 1: Empathize.

Rule 2: Apply the golden rule. “Do not lay on any soul a load which you do not wish to be laid upon you.” Do not sadden their heart. Remember that the parents’ language and attitude has far reaching effects on the child. An innocent remark such as pointing out his obesity, or pimples on the face, can bring the child’s self esteem so low as to give him a distorted, negative view of self.

Rule 3: Encourage, always encourage. Give specific praise to children for their positive qualities, attitudes and strengths. Let them focus on the positive. They already hear enough of the negative from the world outside. While we should not make a child swell with pride, we must remember that children are often insecure. Drawing their attention to and encouraging them to develop their strengths will help their psychological development.

Rule 4: Spend time. On disciplinary issues, spend time to explain things to your child. Do point out the shortcoming. However, start off by giving specific encouragement for his virtues and end by consulting and agreeing on how to effect the improvement, little by little, day by day.

Rule 5: Above all, is a good role model. Show them the way. Be a friend to all and do not talk ill of anyone. Be free from prejudice and be kind in speech.

The following kindness story for children is about how a storekeeper managed to change her decision, show kindness and save the day for the ones in need.

A Kindness Story

Snowflakes danced above the city gaily as the cold wind wandered in every direction. Influenced by the bad weather there were few customers in the department store. Then a woman and a boy of about 15 years old entered the store. Their clothes were shabby and they looked like mother and son.

They were here to buy gloves. The storekeeper keenly introduced the products and they looked carefully, checking the prices of every pair.

The mother chose a few pairs of sheepskin gloves and let her son try them on his left hand. After comparing, only one pair was just perfect in size and style. The mother said: “Fine, we’ll buy them. How much is it?”

The woman storekeeper answered: “Twenty dollars a pair.”

The mother started to pull out a bunch of small change from inside her pocket. First one-dollar bills, then quarters, dimes and pennies. But the final sum of all the change was not enough to buy a pair of gloves. The mother said with embarrassment: “Lady, I’m two dollars short. Could you sell it at a cheaper price?”

The storekeeper denied resolutely: “No I can’t.” 

The mother tried again: “I don’t have enough money. Can I pay half of the price and buy only one glove?”

The storekeeper shook her head: “No way. To who would I sell the other glove?”

The mother took off the glove from her son’s left hand with regret. She put it on the counter and guided her son to the door. When they opened the store’s door, the cold wind from outside invaded the store. The storekeeper saw suddenly that the boy’s right sleeve was blowing in the wind like a soft empty plastic bag. The boy did not have a right arm.

The storekeeper understood immediately and began to regret her decision. As soon as they stepped out of the store she called out loudly: “Wait a minute please!” The mother and the boy stopped and looked at her. She said: “I’ll be happy to sell you the glove.”

The mother paid ten dollars and her son put the glove on happily. They left the store gratefully. The storekeeper looked at her own healthy and slim hands. She suddenly realized how valuable her hands were and how they had created wealth and meaning in her life. “For those who have lost one hand, the other hand should need even more care and protection,” she thought to herself. She felt a delight and warmth inside her that she had never felt before.


By Foo Check Woo and Mozhdeh Mohajer For Virtues in Us 


Picture courtesy of The Family Learning House

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