My kids tend to get along pretty well, and even when there’s an argument, they can get past it pretty quickly. However, at the end of the summer and for the first week of the school year, our kids seemed to be more cranky and less patient with each other than normal. I’m not sure if it was because their bodies hadn’t adjusted to the new schedule or if they were just tired of going all day. All I knew was that I wanted to change how they were acting toward one another. I wanted them to focus on showing kindness to one another. When I was a School Counselor, I helped start a Kindness Wall of Fame at my school. Every time any adult saw a child do something kind, the adult could choose to give that child a star for being a kind member of our school. I decided to implement our own Kindness Wall at home.
One night at dinner, I explained that daddy and I had noticed that everyone was having a hard time using kind words, kind voices and kind actions with each other. As a family, we should be talking nicely to one another, thinking of each other and be loving to one another. I talked with the kids about what kindness meant. They each came up with some ideas - my daughter mentioned sharing would be a kind thing to do. My son suggested not being greedish (his word for greedy) as a definition of kindness. I explained that we would be watching how they acted and when we saw them doing something kind, they could earn a star that would go on our kindness wall. They both seemed invested and excited by this new idea.
Our normal night time routine includes the kids taking a bath right after dinner. Lately this had been a huge problem. They were arguing and fighting over every little thing. The first bath after we discussed the kindness stars, their behavior was so different! My son offered to let my daughter get in first, and my daughter offered to let my son sit in the spot he prefers. They shared their toys and got along the whole time in the tub. It was awesome!! The next day, my daughter earned a star by being flexible and playing DUPLOs with her brother even though she really wanted to play LEGOs. It’s been working really well and I’m so glad I implemented it.
A few tips for implementing the kindness wall:
Whenever I give a star, I always write down what made them earn it, so they understand exactly what behavior is kind and to give them specific positive feedback. It’s a great reminder to them of the times when they were kind and thoughtful.
Right now, to shape their behavior, I’m giving stars pretty frequently. As time goes on, I plan to decrease the frequency. I don’t want them to expect a star every day, but I also want them to know that I’m still keeping track of their behaviors and watching how they interact.
They never lose the stars, they can only gain more. I don’t plan on taking away stars as a consequence. These stars are meant to be positive reinforcement for behavior I want to encourage in my kids.
Do you have a way to recognize when your kids are kind?
If you'd like your own kindness wall, download the free printable here!
This post was added to the Jenny Evolution Friday Flash Blog, check it out here!