Teaching Your Child Kindness

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News They played on the floor, the contented toddlers, surrounded by crushed candy wrappers, smashed candy pieces and other telltale signs of a party. One little one toddled over towards Menachem, and engrossed in his own efforts to get the little piece out of the container, dropped the whole container. Menachem, who had recently turned two, was involved in munching his own sweets, but he saw the action, and without missing a beat—or a bite—reached over, picked up the fallen candy container, and handed it to the other toddler before the recipient could cry. From the sidelines, I watched, astonished. Most kids would keep the fallen goodies. Most kids would truly believe it was theirs, and most parents would excuse the miscreant. “After all,” they would reason with perfect logic, “he’s only a baby.” But will that kid learn to share? Will he learn “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is not mine”? At what point will he learn that? Will his parents make the same excuses for him at ten? At fifteen? And the most important question: Where do they see their own role in the teaching process? Is the child supposed to somehow, by osmosis, pick up the concepts of civilized society all by himself or do they see themselves as involved in making it happen? Menachem already knows the answer. He couldn’t explain it to you, but what he did is called “kindness.” A two-year old who does what he did so automatically has already been inoculated against being mean, selfish, cold, or criminal 45 years from now....
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