If your family has more than one child, you’ve probably encountered sibling conflict. Siblings spend a lot of time together, and because they’re children, they’re still learning about how to get along and resolve conflict. It can be exhausting as parents to have to help kids work out their conflicts with one another over and over each day.
Why not be proactive and teach your children about the importance of being kind and how important that is to God? It’s a great way to reduce conflict and create more harmony in your home!
The following article on kindness is reprinted with permission of Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators and the author, Kris Hage. It originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of The Paper MACHE (now called Homeschool Now Minnesota). Visit MACHE.org. I’m excited because it contains an excerpt from Growing the Fruit of the Spirit, a book that Kris Hage and I wrote together!
Character Corner by Kris Hage
Welcome once again to Character Corner, where we offer you a character lesson from the Bible to use with your family! Some of you have wrapped up your school year and are enjoying the all-too-brief summer days we have in Minnesota. But learning more about God and the character he wants to grow in us never takes a vacation. So let’s dive into the character quality of KINDNESS in our study from the fruit of the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Have you ever quoted this verse to your children when they are bickering or fighting or not sharing? I could not count the number of times I have repeated God’s command to be kind to my children! There are many times in Scripture where God commands us to be kind. As parents, we want our children to show kindness, not only to their siblings, but to all the people God brings into their lives. To be kind is to be considerate and gracious; helpful; agreeable or benevolent in attitude and actions; looking out for the welfare of others often at the expense of self-comfort.
For a change to our usual format of exploring scriptures and practical activities to put kindness into action in our families, I am so excited to share part of the chapter on kindness from a brand new publication! My dear friend, Kris Cox, and I have been working on Growing the Fruit of the Spirit, A Guide for Family Bible Time for the past year. It was just published in April and can be used for your family Bible time or as your Bible curriculum on school days.
The guide has one chapter, containing 5 lessons, on each fruit of the Spirit. So here is Lesson 3 from Chapter 6 The Fruit of the Spirit is Kindness. We work on memorizing one scripture for each chapter and read a short devotional for each lesson, then choose from activities for all ages to put it into practice.
Lesson 3 Choose Kindness Every Day!
Before reading this lesson, take a moment to review your memory verse.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.Ephesians 4:32
For younger children:
Be kind to one another.Ephesians 4:32a
Memory Verse Activity
Write each word of the verse on a separate index card and mix the cards up – have your child unscramble the words to make the verse. (Include the verse address on a card, i.e. ‘Ephesians 4:32’.)
What is Kindness?
The dictionary defines kindness as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It’s exemplified by having a loving attitude towards others; thinking of their needs and reaching out to be a blessing to them.
The Greek word for kindness is chréstotés, (khray-stot’-ace)and it means goodness, excellence and uprightness and it refers to meeting real needs in God’s way. It also relates to being kind to someone who has been unkind to us.
Our memory verse also talks about being tenderhearted, this is basically having a kind and gentle nature or personality.
Kindness and goodness really go best together. If we show kindness without goodness, we may be too tolerant of sin. If we show goodness without kindness, we may be legalistic or harsh. These two qualities in the fruit of the Spirit are best developed together.
The most amazing act of kindness was done by God our Father when he sent His only Son, Jesus to die on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Kindness is a big part of God’s character. Along with kindness, God shows us mercy, grace and love. He calls us as His children to follow His example of kindness as we interact with others in our lives.
Kindness needs to be intentional, it usually doesn’t happen naturally for most people. Rather we need to decide we want to be kind. Most of us are naturally selfish, and so it takes work to be thoughtful of others and to show them kindness. That’s the beauty of kindness. We need to choose to think of someone else’s needs or desires and do something about them. We also need to choose to put aside our own wants and desires to make someone else happy.
We can choose to be kind occasionally, or we can choose to make kindness part of our lifestyle, something we do all the time. Jesus made kindness his lifestyle, He was kind all the time.
The only way we can be kind all the time is by asking the Holy Spirit to help us. We need God’s help to be kind constantly. Take time together to ask God to help you develop the character quality of kindness so that it becomes a lifestyle, not just an occasional occurrence.
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.Proverbs 21:21
What are some ways you can make kindness something you intentionally do every day?
Activities to Choose From
- Make a kindness poster
Using poster board and markers, make a kindness themed poster to hang on the wall in your home. Work together as a family to make this poster. You can look on the internet for kindness sayings such as “One act of kindness won’t change the world, but it will change one person’s world.” Or use a scripture verse such as the memory verse or another verse from this chapter.
- Make cards for mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, or others who have been influential in your life
Using cardstock, stickers, and markers or color crayons, make some cards for those who take care of you and help you every day. Be sure to write some kind words on your cards, telling them how much you are thankful for them!
- Sticky notes of kindness
Write notes to your sisters and brothers using sticky notes. Think of something nice you can say about them and then stick the note somewhere in their room or somewhere they will find it.
- Make a care package for someone who is homeless or struggles financially
Go to the store and buy hygiene items, plus socks, mittens, hats, etc. (things a homeless person might need). Ask for a brown paper bag at the checkout. When you get home, decorate the brown paper bag and write a verse such as John 3:16 to encourage whomever will receive the package. Put the items back into the bag and bring it to your local high school for students who are in need, or to a food shelf. While doing this project, talk about how hard it would be not to have a home to live in, and brainstorm on other ways you could help people in need.
- Practice random acts of kindness
Did you know that there’s a website about random acts of kindness? https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/ Check it out! Ask the Lord for opportunities to be an example of kindness to others.
Make a chart with each child’s name on the left column and the days across the top and let them put a sticker on the chart when they practice a random act of kindness (Or if they’re old enough, they may want to write in what they did. You could also use the following kindness corner to display these random acts of kindness.)
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” Princess Diana of England
- Download a Crazy Maze activity here and try to find your way through the maze. If you get stuck, ask someone for some KIND help!
Kristyn Hage, Character Companion for the Miller Family Series (Mifflin, PA: Green Pastures Press, 2013) 26.
Interested in purchasing Growing the Fruit of the Spirit: A Guide for Family Bible Time?
Please share ideas for encouraging kindness in your children below in the comments! I’d love to hear what has worked for your family.