One mom who realized she was missing the mark in raising truly good kids has figured out the answer and is on a mission to help other parents learn from her mistakes.
Dani LaBriola, who has 11-year-old twins, created a system called Crafting Character, and says, “it’s a two-step process that requires a pivot in thinking.”
The pivot requires parents to change their focus from inward, on their kids own individual happiness and success, to outward, on how their kids can serve others. This gets one in the right mindset to begin the two-step task ahead: teaching your kids about character and then helping them to create a new habit so it shines through.
First, educating your children about the trait is important so they understand why and how. The research is easy to find and shows that kindness benefits the recipient AND the giver by increasing confidence, improving health, decreasing anxiety and depression, and increasing popularity.
Kindness can be shown in many simple ways—including letting your friend go before you in line, rolling in your neighbors trashcans when they accidentally leave them out, or taking 3 minutes to call you grandparents to let them know you really care.
Second, after teaching about the trait, children must put the trait into practice to create a new habit (this step is the key to seeing change that lasts!) Have your child select a daily act of their own to complete, and then send them out in the world to do it! Not only will they help someone else, they will get to experience all of the wonderful benefits that being kind produces (as shown in the link below).
The systems that LaBriola created for kids aged 4-10 aim to complete this two-step process using a storybook with corresponding stuffed animals, like a turkey, eagle, ladybug, and duck.
Each story teaches a particular character trait, such as gratitude, and then the plushie, which is missing 14 of its pieces, tracks 14 days of acts as the child completes them. Providing a visual reinforcement for the child, for example, the Loving Bug teaches kids how to be loving and kind, is missing its 14 spots, and slowly grows them as the child completes their acts of kindness.
Two of the books recently won first and second place at the CIPA EVVY book competition and they are garnering attention from some experts and teachers. “These books will change the world,” claims the 2016 California Teacher of the Year.
The series of book and plush-toy systems cover 5 traits—love and kindness, charity, gratitude, good citizenship, and conservation. Each book-toy system costa $39.99 on craftingcharacter.com.
“The coolest part about this all is that many of the traits we cover are contagious,” said the author. “If one kid starts to do it, the rest of the kids will follow.”
2021 will be a year of contagion—not only for a coronavirus, but the continuing spread of kindness and giving.