How To Teach Kindness To Kids
“Please” and “thank you” might be a good start, but how else can we teach compassion in our family and raise kind kids with generous hearts? Teresa Castro, an educator and mother from Irvine, California joins us to reflect on family giving and strengthening relationships with kindness, as we focus on using our blessings as the best lesson plans.
How To Teach Kindness To Kids
Teresa: One little thing can make a difference in somebody’s life and seeing her realize that and seeing her do these actions on her own without us telling her what to do, has been so amazing. For us, our biggest success is raising a daughter who is kind because that’s just her heart, and for us that’s the most important thing.
Lois Paula: Whether you’re hoping to heal the world or heal yourself, this podcast is here for you, to highlight how kindness moves.
Nan: Moves you to take action, yourself. It just makes you feel something so good, it’s contagious. You might have been touched by a simple act of kindness, you might want tips on how you can act now in your community or you just love the feeling of doing good.
Lois Paula: Welcome to Kindness Moves, a new podcast, brought to you by the INC Giving Project, we’re your hosts LP and Nan!
Lois Paula: So today we are actually talking about a topic that hits close to home — raising kids, now specifically raising kind kids! Being a mother of two, this topic, is something that my husband and I, we always try to instill in our kids in different ways. But we know, there isn’t a one size fits all approach; but definitely, we value seeing and hearing what other parents have done to raise their kind kids.
Nan: Well you know LP, I, I gotta say, I don’t think you give yourself or Glenn, the credit that you guys deserve. You know you and your husband are definitely on the right track — trying is already the first step, and seeking knowledge is the second step in the right direction, so you’re on that right path. And I have had the privilege to meet your kids and to get to know your kids, and I gotta say they are truly kind kids.
Lois Paula: Thanks to you Uncle Nan.
Nan: But I don’t have any little ones of my own…
Lois Paula: Yet.
Nan: …yet, but I do have nieces and nephews, you know, and I also helped with the youth group in our local congregation, and I’ve come to learn that kids have such a wide range of personalities and influences so I can see why there isn’t a one size fits all approach.
Lois Paula: Yes, and I’m glad you brought that up Nan, you are a teacher in the Children’s Worship Service and so we’re grateful for you and your help and you’ve seen my kids and you’ve helped raise them and our co-officers, you know in the office and whatnot. So we’re grateful. It does take a village to raise a child so thank you in advance for all that you do for the youth in the Church Of Christ being a teacher in the Children’s Worship Service.
But yes for all our listeners who are new parents, maybe you’re a grandparent or even that awesome aunt or uncle, like Nan, who is helping raise you know the kids in your household, this will be a fun and hopefully helpful listen to us all. So our guest today is actually a mom herself, who is also an educator, so let’s welcome everyone Teresa Castro.
Nan: Hi Teresa.
Teresa: Hey everybody, thank you so much for having me. Hi.
Lois Paula: Hello. Now Teresa before we get started, can you introduce yourself to our listeners? How long have you and your husband been parents?
Teresa: We have been parents for 10 years, going on 11.
Nan: Oh nice.
Lois Paula: All right, and your, your, you have one daughter, is that correct?
Teresa: Yes correct one girl.
Lois Paula: How has parenthood been thus far — 10 years, congratulations.
Nan: Yes congratulations.
Teresa: We have been really spoiled. She’s amazing. She’s an amazing little one. So she’s very talented and hardworking and so loving and so we’ve been really, really blessed, but she is, you know, going through those almost teenage years and we’re trying the best we can, but she’s still wonderful, we’re very lucky.
Nan: I remember being in that, at that age. I can say that I was not the kindest, so…
Lois Paula: You weren’t a kind kid? (laughter)
Nan: No, I tried to be, but you know as a young kid, you play in the playground.
Lois Paula: There’s a lot of influences like you said.
Nan: Yeah. But my parents did a great job and got me right back on track.
Teresa: Well that’s good to know it’s never too late. But luckily Katelyn has been, she is just intrinsically kind. So, it hasn’t been hard for us but we know that teenage years are coming. We’re not sure what they’re going to bring so we’re praying hard, but we’ll do our best, that’s all we can do, right?
Nan: Right. And you know, you hear it in this podcast, it’s in the title, “kindness” we hear the word kindness a lot. And it can be perceived in so many ways. So Teresa, what’s your idea or definition of kindness?
Teresa: Wow, that’s a big question. Yeah, kindness is, I mean of course it’s being friendly to others, but I think a big piece of kindness when it comes to when we’re talking to our daughter is being generous, and also being considerate. We often talk about, you know, being kind means putting others before ourselves a lot of the time, and we try to instill that with her as much as possible.
Lois Paula: Absolutely, and it’s something that you have to keep teaching, it’s not something that you just teach one time and you know it goes away but like you said she’s entering in her teenage years, and there’s a lot of influences so hopefully you know what you have taught and what you will continue to teach like you said will will be implemented.
But we’re talking about kindness and parenthood. But what about upbringing? How has kindness been instilled for you specifically Teresa, as you were growing up? Do you recall certain moments where it was in your family and now it’s impacted the way that you treat Katelyn?
Teresa: Oh definitely. Growing up, my parents were, you know, they were very strict but they were also very kind, not just to me but to everyone around them. So I was very blessed because when my parents raised me they really did teach me to put others first and I think that was a big thing so whatever I do, I accomplish, whatever I get, I just make sure that you know I’m serving others and that’s a big part of my life, life of service. That’s why I’m a teacher and that’s why we instill that in Katelyn as well, because you know when she does that for others that, of course makes her feel good too and it’s the right thing to do.
So, I always saw my parents giving to others very generously. A lot of the times you know putting others first and making sure they got everything they needed before we got all the things that we needed. And growing up, you know, it was hard to understand at first but then after a while you saw and you saw how wonderful it felt to really give to others so seeing them do that and being generous with their time and with their resources, not only with our family but with friends and with people from our Church, that was, that really made a big impact on me and I knew that it was something I wanted to carry on to my to my daughter and my family.
Lois Paula: Absolutely, I agree. I think when I look back, it was my mom who I looked back at as my hero, you know like, the most selfless person in the world. But yeah kindness is definitely something we strive for every single day. It’s easy to disregard it, especially the times that we’re living in everyone is, you know, needing something so it’s easy to kind of just forget about it and really focus on ourselves. Yeah, I’m glad that, that inspiration has allowed you to carry what you’ve learned on into your parenthood as well. So in a way, you know, being kind to something we all need to really fight for like you said, and make sure it continues despite all of the negativity around us.
Teresa: Right, absolutely. And I like how you put it that you have to fight for it because it’s not something you know you can learn it one day, but a lot of things happen in life so we really do have to teach our kids to fight for what’s right, and whether or not other people are doing it, you know, you have to really fight for, for kindness for being kind to one another and yourself as well.
Nan: Yeah, I totally agree. You know kindness, it takes effort right. I mean it’s easy to only think of yourself or disregard the needs of other people and you know you talking about your parents and how they raised you to put the needs of others ahead of yours, you know I think that’s a really really great lesson to have been taught to you. And it’s great to hear how kindness was something that was instilled in you at such a young age, you know, and I really do think your parents found success because it seems to have really stuck with you even into parenthood.
Teresa: Oh, thank you. That’s probably the biggest compliment that you can give them. Thank you so much that’s really kind of you to say as well. And it’s really yeah it really is so important to us so thank you for that.
Lois Paula: And you know we can’t say it enough kindness kindness kindness it’s the name of this podcast and it’s a topic we touch on every single episode, but we usually we talk about how we should and could be kind — but today’s a little bit different because we’re also talking about how to instill it in, not only ourselves, but in the kids we raise. You know to see how much it can really impact, not just us and those around us but have a lasting impact, even after we’re gone you know for our kids.
Nan: Yes. Yeah, and that’s, that’s the goal right. And it’s not just about us and what, how we can improve ourselves but also the kids that, you know, as parents that you have to raise and also the kids that are in our lives, whether it be through our family and friends. So Teresa earlier in the podcast we learned what your idea or definition of kindness is, how does that translate into you raising a kind kid?
Teresa: So for us, like I said, a big part of being kind is being generous and considerate of others and we explicitly make sure that we take steps towards that, if not daily, you know, at least weekly. And ever since she was small, we made sure whether you know, whether it’s our savings how we saved, we made sure that we had enough to give to others. Every week we make sure, what you know what did you do for someone today or what did you do for others this week? If you haven’t done anything, what can we do before the end of this week? That’s always an explicit conversation that we’re always having. Because it’s easy for her to see what kindness is, but sometimes it’s hard for her to do it on her own, and she’s getting to the age where she really is doing it on her own at this point.
So, we talked about not just doing the kindness, but, but why? Why is it that we do it because when you understand the reason why you are kind to others it becomes embedded in what you do. And so we do have those conversations of, of giving to others, especially when we had like activities for the Church where we did our acts of kindness for others and, and a lot of those things that we did they were funded by her she made sure that that came from, from herself. It was truly, it wasn’t something from her parents. We didn’t make her do it, she, she really reached into things that she earned and made sure that this was really coming from her and that was a really powerful moment for us as her parents, but also for her as well. And I think that was very lasting because even now she remembers those things. And you can see her starting to do that on her own, without us prompting her to do it.
Lois Paula: That’s a beautiful accomplishment.
Nan: Yeah, I would say like, that’s a proud moment. I could feel the pride, you know like, just in you sharing that moment, yeah it’s it’s really nice to hear.
Lois Paula: Yeah, and we’re so grateful. you know you use your platform Teresa to even to share the tips and things online you know with other parents and with your friends and family who are also listening and following you. But in terms of, you know, the many facets of just raising children in general, why is raising a kind kid so important to you and your husband? What does that mean to you? And where does that inspiration come from?
Teresa: I mean, with our faith we’ve always been taught to be kind to our fellow man, and also to our family but if you take a step back and you look at people who are kind, they’re just overall happier, aren’t they?
Teresa: You know, when you’re kind and you do things for others it feels good. And when you’re happy also you have less stress you know that’s really important in the world we live in today. And so when you’re kind to others, not only do they benefit but you benefit too and that’s something that Katelyn has realized that she’s doing it for others but she, it makes her feel good so it makes her want to do more and so I think it’s really important to be kind, because of course you create those connections with other people, you make friends, your self worth really starts to build because there’s a high correlation between your self worth and feeling like you belong and being kind to other people because that’s how you get along with people.
Lois Paula: Absolutely, you create those connections and those connections could, who knows, one day lead to somewhere else where it wouldn’t have ever, you know, opened the door for it if it weren’t your taking the moment to, to be kind and to be generous like you mentioned.
And you said also earlier, your faith had a big part, a big role in, in the way that you raise Katelyn and the importance of raising a kind kid you know since instilling a strong understanding of Christian kindness, has been implemented in your life and you’re implementing it and Katelyn’s, and what are some things that you decided to do well with her like you said you you practice something on a weekly basis you have affirmations that you, you do. What other things are you learning over the years that are helpful and maybe not so helpful, maybe there are some things that you’re like, oh my gosh that did not work let’s try again.
Teresa: Right. Yeah, I think at first when, you know, when she was when we were really trying to instill the kindness it really was for us. I mean she, her personality is, she is a people pleaser. She loves to make people feel happy which is a blessing, but it also makes me wonder if it’s lasting. Also is it something that is really her or is this us, you know, so that was a challenge in the beginning we weren’t sure like okay she’s doing this but is she doing it for us, or is she…
Lois Paula: You’re right. You know, when you’re young, you really don’t understand too much, you do, but you’re right — is it because it’s what your parents are telling you to do or is it because you really feel like it’s right.
Lois Paula: At what point did that click? At what point did you really feel and see that what you were teaching her was really being understood and taken proactively in herself?
Teresa: Like I mentioned before, I think a big part of it was teaching her why we did what we did and why we choose the things that we do, when you, when you’re kind to people why is it that you do it, you know, and giving her a lot of stories about when we grew up, maybe this tiny thing that we did has such had a such big impact on someone else’s life and sharing those stories with her and her realizing that even small acts of kindness can make a huge difference to somebody’s day and, you know, she has bad days some days and and you know talking to her about you know if someone just gave you one word of kindness, what difference could that make for you and she realized like you know what yeah that would turn my day around, you know one little thing can make a difference in somebody’s life and seeing her realize that and seeing her do these actions on her own without us telling her what to do, has been so so amazing and I know it’s very important to raise children who are successful in life but for us, our biggest success is raising a daughter who is kind because that can open so many doors and that’s just her heart, and for us that’s the most important thing.
Nan: That’s so great to hear you know clearly you’ve, you found a great way to learn and even practice kindness and, and instill that in Katelyn. And you, you kind of already answered this, because you’ve stated that she is proactive and even during the make kindness contagious campaign that you and your family participated in. It’s cool to hear that it was like all her kind of taking the reins and asking you to, to help her with that. So, are there any particular opportunities that she enjoys and she like actively like asks you to take her to or to volunteer for? I mean, are there certain things that she just enjoys doing as far as helping others?
Teresa: Oh yeah. She’s old enough now to start researching. You know, we watch her research but she takes time now to kind of look for things that she can do to make a difference, you know, she researches what kids her age can actually do out there and so she’s found a lot of great things and we do continue to donate to the shelter near us which we started doing with the kindness campaign from the Church so we started back then and we continued that right now and actually made quite a bit of friends over there so yeah, so that was, that was huge, that was huge, we would have never done that without the opportunity so so we’re very thankful for that. And you know, she takes time to make crafts or she makes goodie bags to carry around in the car so if we see, if we see someone in need on the way like she yells out “Give them one, give them one.”
Lois Paula: I saw, I thought that was so smart you called it something specific, what, was it?
Teresa: She called them blessing bags.
Nan: Oh wow.
Lois Paula: Blessing bags. How beautiful is that? You have it in your car, you prepared ahead of time just so you’re, there’s never a reason for you not to give it.
Teresa: Absolutely. And so she’s, she’s so proud to do things like that and when we find people who need, she she goes out there and she’s eager to go out on her own and and that’s just such a big you know quality to go, to have the courage to go out there to people you don’t even know and offer a helping hand, you know, and and we’re so proud. We’re so proud about that.
Nan: Wow, that’s, that’s really cool and that’s a great idea to those blessing bags I, I’m gonna have to take a page out of Katelyn’s book and make my own blessing bags for my car.
Teresa: Yeah. You know something lately she’s even started her own little business and part of it was, we were asking her “Why? Why are you doing this?” and, and she came up with a business plan. One of the questions was, what are you going to do with your earnings? And I was expecting a lot of answers but this was a really proud moment when she said, “Oh, I’m going to I’m going to donate them.”. And she said, and then I said so. “So Is that why you’re doing what you’re doing?”. She’s like “Yeah because so I can make more to give.”. And so that was, that was when we knew that this was really becoming a part of who she is.
Lois Paula: That’s beautiful.
Nan: Wow. That is awesome. That is so cool. And I want to say thank you so much for really showing us how important it is, as a parent, to raise a kind kid and and it really does shine through in just everything that you’ve shared with us and what we’ve heard about Katelyn and you and your husband and and all the things that you’ve done to instill that in her. So what’s really interesting is, okay we’ve established you’re a parent and you’ve had these experiences where you’re able to instill kindness in Katelyn. But what about as an educator? Because you get to kind of see both sides of the coin, you know you’re a parent, and then you’re also an educator so based on your experience, you know, how much of a difference does it make when you’re working with or teaching kids that are just, you know, genuinely, and sincerely kind?
Teresa: Well this, it’s a big reason why I became an educator because kindness is such a big piece of me and, you know, when I work with kids that’s, that’s actually my number one goal. Of course academics are so important, but for me, it’s really important to instill that character, and that’s my number one thing I’m known for it. It’s so important. It’s so important and not only, you know, raising kids who are your own or kids in your classroom, raising kind kids is not just for a bright future for them but a bright future for, for all of us. And it makes the world a better place, and I truly believe that kids are naturally, intrinsically kind and helpful. That’s how they’re born, that’s how they are. Sometimes they might go a different direction but that’s really who they are to the core so it’s not hard to bring them back to that. And so when they come to us, we want to make sure that they can access that part of themselves and when they leave us they hope that they continue to continue to do that.
Lois Paula: I’m getting emotional because I just think of my, my six year old and he’s in kindergarten, and you’re saying all those things that I just have, you know, there are so many hopes and dreams as a parent you want for your child and and you know as much as I see like, you know, the tantrums, I do see the beautiful kindness in these little small moments where he’s interacting with his teacher and he just, you know, she asks, “Do you want to answer the question, Ryder?” and instead of just blurting out an answer, you know, “Thank you Mrs., yes I would like to,”. I’m like, oh you’re so polite like, where did that come from?
So it makes me so emotional to say that — and firstly I just actually want to thank you, Teresa, as an educator, and all of your colleagues. Thank you to all of our teachers and educators all over the world. We appreciate you. We appreciate what you’re doing, your sacrifices, everything that you have done in all of your years in education, it means a lot, coming from a parent. Doing this virtual thing, it’s all new to us, but you have so much patience and love for our children. So thank you, thank you, endlessly for what you’re doing.
Teresa: Thank you so much. I know it, we don’t hear it often, but we, when we do, it means a lot so thank you for saying that.
Lois Paula: Before we continue on with our conversation. We did ask you, our listeners as well, all of you, our kindness ambassadors, to chime in, about how kindness moves you. So for this episode specifically, here’s what Cindy Sandi from Temecula, California had to say about kindness and compassion, and how it can help in our own families.
Cindy Sandi: The INC Giving Show reminds me that in this time of darkness, there is still light shining in this role, through love and compassion. We are the examples of hope and faith in our community. But most importantly, to our family. It has to be shown to them through the act of a giving heart, we share and reflect the love and mercy, that God has graced us with, even during this time of uncertainty. Being able to give is such a true blessing. We are humbled by his love and we are happy to give, as well as share our faith.
Nan: Thanks Sandy for sharing how kindness moves you. You know we’ve had Teresa on the show today. And we’ve had a great time hearing about how she’s instilling kindness in her child. Her and her husband have done a great job and it’s really been fun hearing about those experiences and also your perspective as an educator, so thank you Teresa for sharing that with us. Now we’ve mentioned this earlier in our discussion during the podcast, you and your family were part of the Make Kindness Contagious Campaign and we’ve seen you participate in various outreach projects for the Church Of Christ. How has the INC Giving Project helped you in your goals of raising a kid?
Teresa: Oh it’s, wow that’s kind of hard to put into words. So the activities in the Church, especially the making kindness count, has been such a big deal because it gave us opportunities to really get out there and I think we’ve always wanted to do those things but we didn’t really take the initiative initiative to do them so it gave us a vehicle to do what we’ve always wanted to do and those prompts for what we were to do every day, we wouldn’t have thought of those things on our own and so it was really fun for Katelyn to see those and it was fun to see what she can come up with for every day, that was really fun. So without those activities, I don’t think we would have done it as soon as we did and we’re happy to continue to carry on. We continue to do those things even now, so we’re very thankful for that.
Nan: Very cool. So is, that whole campaign was kind of like a catalyst for all these new ideas that Katelyn and your family are participating in.
Teresa: Oh absolutely, because when you go out there and you try to find things to do, they’re just kind of, there’s a lot of things and you’re not sure what you should do, what can you do, but this was really motivation and she was excited every day to see “What’s, okay, what’s next, what’s next, what are we going to do next?”. And she was planning those out and we were together making those calls to the different shelters and who was accepting what, what can we do, just really making that part of our day and part of our lives and knowing that it’s not as hard as we thought, because those were always big ideas that we thought like “Oh we’ll get to them someday.”, but not realizing it’s not really that hard and these campaigns forced us to do it every day and when we’re done we’re like, oh, that wasn’t so bad we can continue to do this all the time and so that was, that was really great and we’re thankful for the opportunity and for the motivation to, to show kindness.
Lois Paula: And I think a lot of us share that feeling where we think that it’s this big hurdle that we have to really plan it out and think about it and create this elaborate plan, like you said, but at the end of the day it’s not as difficult as we would think it to be. So we’re grateful and you actually you mentioned this, but before we go, we did want to just ask you if you did have any parting piece of advice that you would like to share for parents or maybe people raising kids to be kind — you know, what would that be? As an educator or as a parent, you mentioned some great things today and we are inspired by your words and by your insight so any last tips or advice that you can give our listeners?
Teresa: Oh well I can learn so much from you, but in my whole 10 years, I think the biggest thing for us is our faith, and praying together and praying for ways to be kind and to do what we should do in this world, really being lights of this world and helping others and I think it’s really important to teach our kids and our students as well that, that they’re worthy, they’re worthy of receiving kindness and giving kindness and every little bit of kindness makes a difference to others so it’s always worth it. Even though you’re having a bad day, or even though things are hard is, showing kindness to others will always be worth it for them and for you as well, so instilling that in our children and in our students that really leads us to a bright future for all of us. And so, I don’t know if that was really advice but I think…
Nan: That’s great advice.
Lois Paula: I think just speaking positively about it and empowering one another to, like you mentioned, to understand that everyone’s worthy — that was so beautiful and and that’s why I appreciate your posts. On a, on a general basis, you use your platform to share inspiring quotes, to share motivational stories, on your platforms constantly about kids and, about the youth and education so thank you for that as well.
Teresa: Oh thank you. I didn’t know I had an audience.
Lois Paula: Everything that we do online it’s there and again you’re using your digital footprint, so to say, in a positive manner, so your educator mode is always on.
Teresa: Thank you so much.
Lois Paula: So thank you so much again Teresa for joining us. You’ve highlighted ways for us to help us raise kind kids and there’s also more examples from volunteers like you and Katelyn and your family featured on ingiving.org or on the Instagram, the official INC Giving Project Instagram so check it out for more ideas, if you haven’t, to all our listeners.
Nan: Yes, and we are so thankful. This was a lot of fun. It was nice to hear such inspiring words and just inspiring experiences that you’ve had with your family so thank you so much Teresa for joining us.
Teresa: Thank you for having me.
Nan: So in our next episodes, please stay tuned for discussions about one of the important values, one can carry into adulthood, kindness, no matter how young or old, we break down how to keep a compassionate upbringing in your toolkit early on as a young professional and through the decades, as we focus on the true value of doing good.
Lois Paula: Yes – so, so much ahead, we hope you enjoy these conversations as much as we are. Thank you for tuning in. I’m Lois Paula.
Nan: And I’m Nan. For more tips and ideas on how you can make kindness contagious, please visit incgiving.org.
Lois Paula: And add us to your playlist of favorites or download more episodes on Google Podcasts, I Heart Radio and Apple Podcasts. Remember, act now — make your move to do good, because kindness matters; it’s meaningful, it motivates, Kindness Moves!