As a parent, it can be surprising to see your child copy your behavior, mannerisms, and even word-for-word things you have said. It is lovely when the things they repeat are good things (like “I’m happy to help!”), and alarming when those things which are not so good (“Stop. That. Right. Now”).
When your child is doing something unkind that they have seen you done (like shouting or speaking in a frustrated tone), there is no point trying to get them to stop by telling them it is not allowed. It is a lot more empowering for everyone in the family to admit that we are not perfect and that we are all learning what it means to be kind. As we do our best as parents to practice kindness more and more each day, our children will follow suit.
In our family remind each other when we need to be more kind. If my son feels like I said something with a “mean face” as he likes to call it or I feel his tone is not appropriate, then we talk about it and give each other a second chance to say our words again.
This activity is a simple hands-on way to discuss kindness and why we should use kind voices. My kids had a lot of fun with it and I hope yours will, too.
Please note I am listing this as a Craft Activity however it can be as crafty or non-crafty as you wish. We used wipe boards so we did not keep our pictures at all, but you could easily use paper or index cards and create a collage of the pictures afterwards.
First, we set up the wipe boards and got the markers and erasers ready. Then I explained that I was going to say a phrase in a certain voice and I wanted the boys to draw a picture of how they would feel after someone said this to them.
We repeated this four times with the following phrases:
- “Go away, I don’t want you here.” (in a frustrated voice)
- “Will you please leave me alone for a minute, I need some time to myself right now.” (in a nice voice)
- “Thank you so much for being my friend.” (in a sweet voice)
- “I am never going to invite you over to my house to play because you were mean to me.” (in a mean voice)
While we were erasing each picture, I referred to a specific example of when I had heard the phrases being used. We discussed how each person felt (the talker and the listener) and if the phrase was not nice, we figured out how the person could have said how they were feeling without being mean. (“I really did not like what you did to me, and so I don’t want to invite you over to play because I’m scared you will do it again.”)
After four phrases and pictures, the point was made that kindness is shown with what we say as well as how we say it. Simple and fun, and so much more effective than just saying, “Be nice.”
By the way, the picture of the monster face above is the one my son drew for the last phrase. I thought it was pretty expressive – and the best part of it was that my son got to empathize with the child he said this phrase to a few weeks ago.
In what ways do you encourage your child to use kind voices? Do they understand the effects they are having on people when they speak?
Feel free to share your experiences with this activity and/or any variations you came up with. Links to related activities or to your post that links here, are most welcome also.
Thanks for your feedback – I appreciate all your comments!
Thanks for the idea. We did this today. Kids enjoyed and seemed to internalize the concept. It was really powerful to say, after they drew each face, “I have heard you talk to your brother/sister this way.” That made them think!