Raising kind kids was not where we started, but it was where we ended in our attempt to create a “community of kindness” in Colorado Springs. When we started the community-based Kindness Campaign in Colorado Springs in 1995, it was organized around a basis premise of behavioral psychology: “What you pay attention to you will get more of.”
Our theory was that if we could get up to 20 percent of the residents of the city to focus their attention on acts of kindness. We believed if we gave media attention to these daily acts of kindness, we could shift the consciousness of the whole community from a negative to a positive focus.
Creating a Kind Community
We got lots of help from the community: the CBS affiliate television station in Colorado Springs, the daily newspaper, some local radio stations, the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Corporation and Wendy’s Corporation. With their help, we got about 20 percent of the population giving increased attention to acts of kindness.
The television station set up a “kindness line” to collect reports of acts of kindness and they played the recording of a reported act of kindness to end their news show every night. They did news features on acts of kindness and they broadcast regular Public Service Announcements about acts of kindness.
A viewer survey conducted by the television station after the program had been established showed that 75 percent of their viewers were familiar with the Kindness Campaign. In addition, 70 percent of them indicated that the Campaign was significantly reducing crime in the city. This confirmed our hypothesis that when enough people focus their attention on acts of kindness their perception of their world will become more positive and hopeful.
Schools Helped With Raising Kind Kids Booklet
About the same time we were organizing the community-based program, the schools came on board. Eventually over 100 area schools adopted the Kind and Safe Schools Initiative to get students and staff to pay more attention to acts of kindness in their schools. Again, we were able to achieve measurable results. We were able to show that when a school focuses its attention on acts of kindness, negative behaviors like bullying, student put downs, fighting, class disruptions are significantly reduced. The attention once given to negative behaviors switched to positive ones. Students were less successful in getting the attention they wanted and needed by doing negative things and began seeking positive attention.
Parents who heard about the Kindness Campaign from their kids in school began to ask us to help them promote kindness in their families. What we did was give a series of kindness activities to a group of families who volunteered to try them and tell us which ones worked the best in their family.
From the feedback from these parents, we published a booklet for parents titled, “Raising Kind Kids.” We gave parents free copies of the booklet if they showed up for PTO meetings at their schools where we had the Kind and Safe Schools Initiative. We also made the booklet available to parents on our website. You can purchase a PDF copy of the booklet by going to our BOOKS menu, or by following the link towards the bottom of the page.
How Raising Kind Kids Works in Families
The basic premise is the same in families as it was in the community at large and the schools: “What you pay attention to you will get more of.” Parents like teachers and almost everybody else in our culture tend to focus most of their attention on recognizing the negative behaviors of their children. Ever notice if you have to list your positive traits and your negative trait,s the negative list is almost always longer.
We all grew up in a family and went to a school where the focus was on catching you doing or saying something wrong. We believed this is the best way to raise good law-abiding citizens. However, what happens is that we raise fearful kids who focus on their faults and the faults of others. If you are a parent, notice what you pay attention to in your children.
Is it easier for them to get your attention by doing something positive or something negative? Raising kind kids requires giving children more attention for the positive things they are doing and saying and less on the negative things. The “Raising Kind Kids” gives you family-tested ideas to use or adapt for your family.
Raising Kind Kids
Barry K. Weinhold. (2000).
This guide, available in downloadable e-book format, provides 25 field-tested activities for parents who want to promote kindness and respect in their family. Activities are for all ages. This book can easily shift your family experience from a negative one to a positive one. Highly recommended for addressing sibling put-downs and family bullying.
$5.00 – 60p. – .pdf format e-Book.