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Are You Raising Kind Kids?

Are Your Kids “Nice” Kids?

There’s an odd difference between the words “good-mannered” and “kind.” So much so that the people who might very well be the “nicest” people on the planet – the people at the Sesame Workshop (you know, the people who make Sesame Street) are looking at that difference.

In particular, they’re concerned about something else, something that’s implied in both those words, but not necessarily used in them.


The folks over on Sesame Street have started surveying parents on the link up above there because they want to know what you and others think about the world our kids live in and whether it’s a good world. This isn’t politics, they’re not delving into the refugee crisis or asking if Donald Trump’s recordings should or should not spark outrage.

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One of the interesting things that was found is the fact that parents seem to be more interested in making sure their kids are well-mannered than actually caring about the people around them. So, for example, they’re polite to their classmates, say good morning to them, or maybe just say “gee that’s too bad” when someone gets hurt. But do your kids go that extra mile when they are hurt and help those kids or carry their books? Do they see a kid who lost a parent, or a donate books to the school so kids who don’t have books can have some? Do they help YOU at home by setting the table or hugging their sibling when things are wrong?

What I think is the hardest part of looking at this kind of study is realizing how people bemoan the fact that the world is NOT kind. They do say that it’s an unkind and uncaring world. What they may not be doing is getting their kids to do something about it.

The Sesame Workshop folks have a very simple way of putting it: Kindness is giving, speaking, and doing. It’s a card for someone special; it’s saying “l Love You!”; it’s cleaning up in the house or classroom. It’s showing gratitude, being a friend.

In short . . . it’s caring.

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In the surveys, it seems most of the parents believe they are teaching their kids to be kind and empathetic.  Teachers, on the other hand, think that parents need to focus more on practicing those behaviors.  The kids are being taught to be respectful, sure, but maybe they should see some active activities?  Maybe they should be taught to take those toys they don’t play with to the children’s hospital or to get extra school supplies and give them to organizations that help kids who need supplies.

I’ve been told I have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve or that I’m a softie by my kids. That’s kind of funny, as I get accused of some of the opposite in my day-job as a cynical journalist. But the former is far more important to me. My kids see their dad as a caring, loving, empathetic individual. I know that when I have problems my kids can sense it and they can sense it in others.  I certainly want them to be respectful, but I would also want them to care for others.

It’s easy to criticize what we think is wrong with the world. It’s funny that people don’t think about the fact that they can do something about it simply by inspiring the next generation of people to be change it.