Kindness: It’s a Choice

Every morning, my husband and I started incorporating a new concept into our 3-year-old’s routine. At the breakfast table, we ask, “What do you choose to be today?”

We each go around the table and choose how we will behave throughout the day; a sort of mantra practice to help realign and find a center if we get off course.

We’re not seasoned yogis or spiritual people. Really, just an average couple trying to find new ways to engage and teach our son about existing in the world around him.

We have other goals for it, too. For instance, we strive to use it as a tool to teach him about choice, repercussions and how to navigate emotions, those examples being topics of high priority. Seems a little lofty perhaps. Yet, studies show children learn by repetition(1). If we start navigating emotions and choice patterns productively now, where might he be at age 10, 15 or 20?

Putting my long-term hopes aside, I’ve found he has taken to this idea rather quickly. Incredibly, he has even started to remind us there’s a choice to be made each day.

“Mommy,” he says, slurping down a smoothie, “what are you choosing today?”

Usually, I opt for patience, focus or strength; anything to get me through the day and the never-ending to-do list.

I ask, “Declan, what do you choose?”

He replies, with a wide, toothy grin, blue eyes smiling, “I choose to be kind.”

I pause. My eyes glaze over in a misty haze. His answer is a surprise and so pure. Be still my mama heart.

What does kindness mean?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “kind” means generous, helpful and thinking about other people’s feelings(2). Merriam-Webster defines it as of a sympathetic or helpful nature(3).

To be honest, I’m not certain he comprehends the undertaking he has chosen. However, the idea that he gravitates toward this principle by nature makes my soul sing.

“Ok, Declan, what do you choose to be today?”

“Kind,” he replies.

So, I take it a step further. “Ok. What does it mean to be kind?”


Solid, kid. That’s a solid start.

His reply really got me thinking: What does kindness mean to kids in our surrounding communities?

I see them on bikes. Walking their dogs. Skateboarding in the streets. Hanging in the park. Texting. Talking. Swimming in pools. Cruising around the beach. Do these kids have the same idea of kindness that my 3-year-old is developing? I decided to ask.

Children in local counties answered the question, “What does kindness mean to you?” Here are their responses:

  • Friendly, generous and considerate. Brendan, 10.
  • It means to be nice to others. Help when you did not do it. Pick-up stuff. Help/volunteer for things. Have a big SMILE and be nice. Ka’voni, 9.
  • Not hitting and not scaring people. Helping another one. Aaron, 5.
  • Kindness to me means being considerate to others. Haley, 9.
  • Respecting others, loving, wanting to be around them. Respecting the difference between us. Caroline, 9.
  • Respecting others’ personal space and how they feel, and what they like or think about you. Ava, 9.5.
  • It means having respect for someone. Dixon, 9.
  • Treat people nicely no matter how they look. Braden, 9.
  • Helping. Emily, 9.

Kind is a Verb

There is still more to learn on this journey of kindness, both for my son and myself. Being helpful is an excellent place to start. And while we each have room to grow, he is learning certain actions just aren’t acceptable. Things like throwing his “swords” at mommy and daddy or hitting the dog with them. Indeed, these are not actions of a kind person.

When he calls me out, saying, “Be kind, mama,” I instantly halt. I must admit, it’s a humbling dose of innocent honesty that truly grounds me; a sudden jab of truth I didn’t know I needed.

Although kind is designated as an adjective, in our world, it’s more a verb; it’s what you do. This daily exercise, this mantra-setting, social awareness practice we have started, has also transformed our household. There’s a new standard for behavior and interactions. A precedent has been set. I, too, pause before an unfair statement and take a deep breath before uttering an untoward comment, striving to be a beacon of kindness. Behaviors are changing, from the youngest to the oldest, how we act in our home and outside of it, we now proceed with a sweeter intention. Perhaps this will take off for our son so he can venture into the world, being his own little ball of glowing energy for everyone he encounters. Maybe he’ll be an example to his schoolmates, a little leader, someone who stands up for others. We have yet to see. 

The ultimate aspiration I have for this morning exercise is that he learns he has the power to change his behavior and mood, as well as the opportunity to positively affect other individuals to do the same. And that’s a lesson he’ll carry with him for years to come.

In a world seemingly plagued with contention, controversy and crime, maybe these words from our children need to be highlighted, revisited and reexamined even more. And perhaps, we parents are doing a much better job than we think. Maybe we’re even working towards an unspoken, more unified future, one kind action at a time.


  1. LoBue, V. (2019, July 10). Why children like repetition, and how it helps them learn. Psychology Today. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from
  2. Kind. (2021). In Merriam-Webster.
  3. Kind. (2021b). In Cambridge Dictionary. Cambridge Unive.

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