Teaching your kids to be kind is a big deal. I don’t much care what my son becomes, whether he’s rich or poor, athletic or musical or bookish, a ladies man or a guy’s guy, so long as he ends up being a good person. Being kind to other people is a large part of that.
I was hopeful that the new KIND Snacks #kindawesome campaign – which asks people to spread kindness by handing out actual physical (or digital) cards that contain a code for redeeming free KIND bars – would be a fun way to teach my son this major life lesson. So I decided to use the cards they sent me to reward him every time I saw him do something nice.
More than a week later, I still have all my cards. Because five-year-old.
You see, five-year-olds are miserable, barely human human beings who exist solely to drive their parents insane. And #kindawesome is a program that spreads kindness by celebrating kind acts. And never the twain shall meet!
Full disclosure: I did give out a few of the cards, to some friends for graciously helping clean up after our Thanksgiving dinner; to my wife, for soldiering through what has been a hellish pregnancy without murdering me; and to myself, because I love Kind bars (and also because I routinely give up my seat on the subway for pregnant women, families, and senior citizens!)
But Detective Munch hasn’t gotten any.
I’m probably being a little bit hard on my son. Empathy is a tough concept for many adults to grasp, let alone put into practice (just look at the Republican party!) It can take children years to come around to the idea, to transcend the shallow goals of popularity and coolness, and to mature into realizing that being a good person, or at the very least, not being a dick, is what’s truly important. We’ve been hammering home “the golden rule” as much as possible, but asking a five-year-old to regularly demonstrate behavior that a potential presidential nominee can’t even manage might be a little unfair.
We’re trying, obviously, but we’ve been having some trouble lately, and I can’t help but think it’s because I’m not kind enough in front of him. Children are mirrors, and when they’re as young as my son is, there’s no one they copy more than their parents. Why do you think he swears so much, honey?
So I decided to participate in the #kindawesome campaign because I want my son to see me rewarding kind behavior, to hopefully inspire him to demonstrate some kind behavior of his own. I want us to be partners in kindness. Like a couple of kind buds! Wait…
He has his moments. I can’t remember any of them right now but I’m sure he has them. It’s just that, lately, he hasn’t been having very many. (I should have known this would be a struggle when, on Thanksgiving, Mom and Buried asked Detective Munch to name something he is thankful for, and after twenty minutes, several tantrums, and three time-outs, he said, “Toys.”)
There’s still time. December is a great month to put kindness into action, and I have a bunch of my cards left. Although, to be totally honest, I probably deserve all of them myself, merely for putting up with my son every day. You’d think watching me somehow manage to hold my temper in check when he’s inexplicably playing underneath the table during dinner would be all the example he needs, but apparently not.
Maybe incentivizing good behavior with protein bars he can’t eat because he’s deathly allergic to their primary ingredient isn’t the best tactic.
Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and KIND for this promotion. To learn more about how we’re spreading kindness and how you can too, go to howkindofyou.com and check out @kindsnacks #kindawesome on social media.