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Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023

Something To Think About - Gary Smit gsmit@forcharacter.com

I saw this bumper sticker on the car in front of me: “Make America Kind Again.” 

The words made me reflect upon the concept of change. In the book, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything , the authors share that if you want to change the world, you have to change how people behave. And if you want to change how someone behaves, you need to first change how he or she thinks. 

Martin Richard lost his life when the second of two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013. This 8-year-old boy believed in peace and kindness, values he proudly displayed on a poster he made at school. How do we honor Martin’s wish for a more peaceful world—a world that spreads Martin’s own words “No More Hurting People”? How do we increase the happiness and well-being of every child? We start by teaching children to care about others every day throughout the year. 

Maybe changing America to be kind again is too global for our thinking of what it is that we do in our small corner of influence over others. However, I don’t believe it is too monumental to think that we can change our school or class. You want to make your school one that promotes kindness and respect? Then, do all that you can to promote and advocate words and actions that are kind and respectful. I am convinced that caring and respect are at the center of everything we do and are the foundation for positive relationships between staff, students and parents. 

While caring and respect might seem pretty straightforward to learn, it’s a bit more complex than meets the eye. We don’t make children happy when we simply enable them to be receivers of kindness. We escalate their feelings of happiness, improve their well-being, enrich their friendships, and build peace by teaching them to be givers of kindness. 

The handmade poster Martin proudly displayed in the photo is a gift he made for others to see. It was a deeply-felt act. Little did Martin know that his poster would be circulated worldwide following his tragic death. Today, others have joined his personal campaign for peace by sharing posters on social media using #NoMoreHurtingPeople. What a testament to the idea that kindness can grow through the efforts of one child! 



Children are born to be givers. Unfortunately research shows that by 4th grade they are socialized to think more about themselves than others. How do we reverse this trend and create long-lasting habits of the Six Pillars of Character? Let’s do all we can to intentionally and explicitly make these Six Pillars relevant for our students. 



Here are a few ideas that could be used with your child/children: 

  • What does it mean to be a caring person? Have your child brainstorm a list of do's and don'ts for being caring. Ask for specific examples of each behavior they identify. Hang the list up on the wall/fridge as a reminder.
  • Take some of the behavioral examples from the list, and turn them into role-play situations. The kids can act them out themselves or use puppets. First have them role-play the uncaring behavior, and then the caring behavior. Have the child analyze each of the role-plays.
  • Read articles from newspapers and magazines describing situations that show caring and uncaring actions on the part of individuals, groups, or governments. Discuss these situations. In what ways do they demonstrate either caring or uncaring?
  • Describe the most caring thing anyone has ever done for you. How did it make you feel? What effect did that have on you?
  • You have the power to make other people feel good through a simple act of kindness. Think of something you can say or do for another person that would make that person happy. Perhaps it's a simple compliment. Perhaps it's offering to do something helpful for that person. Do it, and then write about how you think it affected the other person. How did it make you feel? Was it worth doing? What would happen if you made a point of doing something like this every day?
  • If you ever had an experience doing community service, write about what you did and what you got out of doing it.

For more information and resources to use in teaching CHARACTER COUNTS, go to www.charactercounts.org