Kindness Can Be Taught. Here's How Most kids value success and achievement more than caring for others, according to Harvard's Making Caring Common project. Who is to blame? We are. We talk to the experts for ideas on how to do better, and why.

Here's what to remember:
- Children are born to be kind — but also unkind.
- Kindness requires courage.
- To build kindness, practice mindfulness.
- Teach real apologies, and frame forgiveness as a gift you give yourself.
- Practice gratitude to "raise the capital" of everyday kindness.
- Kindness is a habit; rituals, chores and service can all help.
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Kindness Can Be Taught. Here's How

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Kindness Can Be Taught. Here's How

Kindness Can Be Taught. Here's How

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CORY TURNER, HOST:

In this episode, how to raise kind kids. And to truly understand kindness, Anya and I visited a mother who's lived through every parent's worst nightmare.

ANYA KAMENETZ, HOST:

And it changed the whole focus of her life.

SCARLETT LEWIS: There are only two kinds of people in the world, good people and good people in pain.

KAMENETZ: Her name is Scarlett Lewis. And before we met her, Cory, I have to confess that I wasn't necessarily all that impressed with kindness...

TURNER: (Laughter).

KAMENETZ: ...As an idea. I mean...

TURNER: You're a kindness skeptic?

KAMENETZ: Well, I don't want to say skeptic. But just, let's say that kindness is like a slogan that's on a pillow that I would never have on my couch.

TURNER: (Laughter).

KAMENETZ: But that really, really changed for me when we traveled to rural Connecticut to spend some time with Scarlett.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHICKENS CLUCKING)

LEWIS: I've lived on this farm for 20 years - before the two boys. And it's really my dream place.

TURNER: Scarlett named this place Wild Rose Farm. There are a few chickens clucking in a wire coop behind a muddy pasture, where there's also a horse.

LEWIS: This is one of the oldest farms in Fairfield County.

KAMENETZ: Really?

LEWIS: Yeah. The house is 1740.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOOR CREAKING)

LEWIS: So older than the United States of America.

KAMENETZ: Wow.

We get there in time to watch her feed the animals, including her constant companions, three dogs - Remington, Rocky and Olive.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG EATING DOG FOOD)

LEWIS: He's hungry, too. And we think he thought that the mic was a dog. (Laughter). Watch out. (Laughter).

KAMENETZ: So Scarlett leads us inside the house. And I remember we took our jackets off in the mud room, and hanging there was a first-grader's black-and-blue ski jacket. And Scarlett stopped, and she pulled out a pair of these funny-looking teeth out of the pocket, joke teeth.

LEWIS: I always say that he wore these little teeth - 'cause he was such a goofball - to school every day.

KAMENETZ: Oh, my. Little silver teeth.

LEWIS: Yeah.

TURNER: Scarlett's son, Jesse, had these teeth in this coat at Sandy Hook Elementary School the day he died.

LEWIS: My name's Scarlett Lewis, and I'm the founder of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement. And I founded this organization following the murder of my 6-year-old son, alongside 19 of his classmates and six educators, in one of the worst mass murders in U.S. history.

KAMENETZ: Here in Sandy Hook, Conn., in 2012, Scarlett lived through every parent's nightmare.

LEWIS: And following that, I realized that there isn't a they out there.

TURNER: And by they she means someone else who's going to come into our schools, and our homes, and help kids replace their anger and violence with warmth and compassion.

KAMENETZ: Right then we come into the sunny kitchen, which is painted turquoise and bright yellow. Every surface is covered with paintings Scarlett's done and photos of Jesse and his brother, J.T. And one of the cabinets has chalkboard paint on it, and on it is a message from Jesse.

LEWIS: We hardly ever use this. This is spray-painted chalkboard.

TURNER: Scarlett didn't notice this message until she returned to the house several days after the shooting to find clothes for Jesse to wear in his casket. She walked in and froze.

LEWIS: I saw that - nurturing, healing, love - and I couldn't believe it.

TURNER: Nurturing, healing, love. You can see those three words. They're spelled phonetically in a 6-year-old's jagged scrawl.

LEWIS: I thought I would never be able to come back here. I don't know why I'm crying 'cause usually I don't. Sorry. I'm usually really good at keeping it together. Just give me a moment.

KAMENETZ: Scarlett says she has no idea how or where her little boy came up with those three words, but the moment she saw them, she realized...

LEWIS: This is my life now. I knew I would be spending the rest of my life spreading this message. And by the way, six years later, you can tell what a moment it was because it's all I talk about. It's all I do. It is the focus of my life every waking moment. Every breath, every word that comes out of my mouth is about nurturing, healing, love. Really.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KAMENETZ: You're listening to NPR's LIFE KIT for Parenting with Sesame Workshop. I'm Anya Kamenetz, an education reporter and the mother of two girls.

TURNER: And I'm Cory Turner, an education reporter and the father of two boys. And after the break, the science of empathy, the courage of kindness and how to raise a child who chooses nurturing, healing, love.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KAMENETZ: So, Cory, yes, kindness is important. But I guess always assumed that my kids would learn it naturally, through osmosis. Just if you love them, they'll become kind.

TURNER: Well, you know what, Anya? You are not alone in that assumption.

JENNIFER KOTLER: We often just expect people to be kind without talking about it. We think, you're a good kid. You're going to be kind.

TURNER: That is Jennifer Kotler. She's one of our expert guides today through what turns out to be a pretty complicated subject.

KOTLER: Kindness has been a part of "Sesame Street" from the beginning so it's not a new concept. But...

KAMENETZ: But, she says, the folks at Sesame and lots of child development experts are starting to notice things - warnings. Not only in the headlines, but in research.

TURNER: And that brings us to our first takeaway, that parents and teachers are sending kids really mixed messages about kindness.

KAMENETZ: Exhibit A is this study Jen points to out of Harvard a few years back.

KOTLER: Middle-school children, for example, thought that their parents valued academic success over kindness.

KAMENETZ: In fact, about 80 percent of children believed their parents were more concerned about good grades and their kids' careers than whether they were caring towards others.

TURNER: Eighty percent. And the parents, on the other hand, they got surveyed, too. And they didn't realize this. They were totally wrong about the message that they thought their kids were getting.

KAMENETZ: Yeah. And this kind of, like, self-delusion, this is just one of many reasons Scarlett worries that this culture is creating huge problems.

LEWIS: Now at epidemic levels. And I'm not talking about just school violence and bullying and loneliness, (laughter), but also substance abuse and mental illness.

KAMENETZ: And of course, her life is a really stark reminder, Cory, of just how high the stakes can be when we talk about things like mental health and kids who are troubled.

LEWIS: Sometimes it's frustrating for me because we act like we don't know what to do. And we do know what to do.

KAMENETZ: After she read that message from Jesse, Scarlett Lewis reached out to a team of researchers and educators, and she created a plan to essentially teach children kindness, step by step, value by value.

TURNER: Yeah. The Jesse Lewis Choose Love enrichment program. They estimate it's now reached over a million students.

KAMENETZ: In fact, in the past decade or so schools all over the country have woken up to the idea that they have a responsibility to teach kids how to treat each other.

TURNER: Yeah. And not just to prevent the next tragedy, but also because research tells us that these non-academic skills, often called social and emotional skills, they make up about half of the equation that determines whether kids are going to be successful in their lives.

KAMENETZ: So let's follow Scarlett's lead and "Sesame Street's," and talk about how the science of kindness can translate into action.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TURNER: Takeaway number two.

KAMENETZ: Kids are born to be kind.

TURNER: But also unkind.

KAMENETZ: Here's what we mean. So on the one hand, people have neurons in our brains called mirror neurons, and they respond in the same way when we experience pain - like, we're picked by a needle - as we do when we watch someone else experience pain. It's a mirror.

LEWIS: It lights up the same receptors in our brain as physical pain.

THOMAS LICKONA: Soon after birth, children, for example, will be more likely to cry as a result of hearing another child cry than they are in response to any other sort of noise.

TURNER: Thomas Lickona says we see signs of what is called empathic distress even in tiny babies. He's a psychologist who wrote the book on how to raise kind kids. Literally. That's what it's called. He's also been a family counselor, has two kids and 15 grandkids.

KAMENETZ: And Tom told us that babies' moral sense seems to go even deeper. Studies going back to the late 1990s have found infants as young as 3 months old prefer a kind or helper puppet over a mean, aggressive character.

So this is like I was saying, Cory, I always thought kids are just born to be kind.

TURNER: Yeah. But the problem for kids is that there are also a lot of barriers to kindness. For example, there's a small study of 2-year-olds who were exposed to another child's distress. Say, a friend fell down on the playground. Only about one-third of the kids actually responded in that moment with altruism, with kindness by, say, going over to the child, offering a hug, calling for an adult.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Zachary (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILD CRYING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Let's check on him. Bella (ph), he's trying to check on you. He's trying to help you up.

KAMENETZ: Yeah. And we actually saw this kind of scene in-person on a recent trip that we took to a preschool on the campus of Eastern Connecticut State University.

ZACHARY: I'm going to help you, Bella.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Great. Let's see. What a kind friend.

ZACHARY: Let me help you, Bella.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Zachary?

TURNER: And it really got me wondering, would my kids be that 1 in 3? Would yours?

KAMENETZ: Yeah. I don't know. I mean, I really hope so. But what is it that gets in the way of that kindness, that act of kindness in the moment?

TURNER: A bunch of things. Young kids are naturally self-centered.

KAMENETZ: Sure.

TURNER: Every parent knows that. So they might just be oblivious to another child's pain.

KAMENETZ: You know, and there's also individual temperament. Right? So some kids, they really can't handle other kids' pain. They shut down. Or maybe they're really shy, and they're waiting for someone else to step up. You know, decades of psychology research tells us this is a grown-up problem, too.

LICKONA: Sometimes the presence of others automatically serves as an inhibition.

TURNER: But there's also another, more disturbing, barrier to kindness that adults really need to understand here, and it's prejudice. So there's another Yale study of 6 to 8-month-old babies. They wanted a puppet that did not share their snack preference punished.

KAMENETZ: Punished?

TURNER: Yeah. So it's not just that these babies showed a preference for those who look, or behave or think like they do, but also a kind of hostility to those that don't.

KAMENETZ: Wow.

TURNER: Yeah. So for all these reasons, children and grown-ups alike don't always reach out to help. Instead, we often do the opposite.

KAMENETZ: It's true. We hide from other people's pain. We run away from responsibility. And that's why Scarlett says...

LEWIS: You don't really need the skills and tools. What you need is the courage to be with somebody in pain and just be present.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KAMENETZ: And that's our third takeaway. Kindness requires courage.

TURNER: The Jesse Lewis Choose Love program for kids from pre-K through high school actually begins with courage.

KAMENETZ: And I want to mention that reports of the shooting said that Jesse himself showed incredible courage. When the shooter stopped to reload, he yelled run. And the investigators said that he saved many of his classmates' lives in that moment.

TURNER: Yeah. And Scarlett's definition of courage is even bigger than that sort of archetypal courage...

KAMENETZ: Yeah.

TURNER: ...Heroic courage. For her, it includes the courage to reach out to a hurting friend on the playground or a child you don't even know.

KAMENETZ: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, the courage to offer comfort to someone who's lost a loved one, even if the idea of death is really scary to you.

TURNER: It's also, Scarlett says, the courage to stand up to someone who's bullying you or someone you know by taking their perspective and seeing the world through their eyes.

LEWIS: Gosh. You know, what would make you act that way? What's going on in your life? I feel compassion for you. I see the pain. Is there anything that I can do to help ease that pain?

KAMENETZ: You know, hearing about courage in that way in that moment really spoke to me, Cory, because I have to admit this. I was a little afraid to sit down with Scarlett. I mean, someone who had gone through something that I, as a parent, fear so much and to look that pain in the face - but the way that she has transformed that experience into a positive legacy is so inspiring.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TURNER: One really practical way Scarlett's Choose Love plan builds courage is by teaching kids to stay calm. They practice brave poses and brave breaths, to stand up tall like superheroes and calm down their bodies and their minds.

KAMENETZ: Yeah. There are a few different reasons for this, which make up our fourth takeaway.

TURNER: Yeah. Takeaway number four - kindness takes mindfulness. Jen Kotler at Sesame says if you're more aware of your emotions, you'll also be more aware of everyone else's. And you'll be less likely to lash out violently in frustration or anger.

KOTLER: Self-regulation is something we all struggle with. And that's why mindfulness is so important and really learning how to manage our own emotions. And I think the earlier that we can practice those skills, the better we'll be in adulthood.

KAMENETZ: In fact, the folks at Sesame are so convinced of the connection between mindfulness and kindness that they like to use a special word - kindfulness.

TURNER: (Laughter) You hear that, Merriam-Webster?

KAMENETZ: (Laughter).

TURNER: Anyway, lots of these social and emotional learning programs introduce tools like meditation, relaxation, yoga to help kids work on this body-mind connection.

KAMENETZ: So we talked about the courage that it takes to step in when someone else is hurting, even if that person is being hurtful towards you.

TURNER: And how to cultivate that quiet in your mind that lets you do that. Our next takeaway is about what to do when your child hurts someone else, accidentally or intentionally.

KAMENETZ: Or, on the other hand, when someone else hurts your child.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KAMENETZ: Takeaway number five - apologies are a skill, and forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.

TURNER: Yeah. Before Jen started at Sesame Workshop, she spent her days in a classroom.

KOTLER: I remember when I was a preschool teacher briefly that we were told we don't force children to apologize to each other. And I remember in my early 20s thinking, that's absurd. You should totally tell children to apologize to each other.

KAMENETZ: The problem, Jen found out, with forced apologies is that they're usually pretty worthless. Sorry.

LICKONA: They don't even realize that they're supposed to mean it, you know, or feel it.

TURNER: Yeah. So Tom Lickona and Jen Kotler both told us instead of focusing on kids parroting the words, sorry, we should help them really take the other person's perspective and - this is important - repair the harm done.

KAMENETZ: Yeah. And this is a great tip. Jen says you can actually take a moment like this and direct one child to look at the other child's face and posture. And this helps them learn how to read feelings.

KOTLER: So it's really about more conversations and about looking at emotions and emotion knowledge and looking at faces to see how your actions affect other people.

TURNER: Jen says Sesame Street has improved over time in how it depicts apologies on the show. It now has characters discuss what went wrong and why and how to make it better.

KOTLER: So Elmo might say, I was really wanting to play with my scooter, and I didn't want to share it. And I realized that you probably wanted a turn, too. And I should let you have the time with it.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SESAME STREET")

RYAN DILLON: (As Elmo) You'll get it, Zoe.

JENNIFER BARNHART: (As Zoe) But wait. What about your turn, Elmo?

DILLON: (As Elmo) Oh, but Elmo can be patient and wait for his turn.

BARNHART: (As Zoe) Oh.

CHRIS KNOWINGS: (As Chris Robinson) So what do you say, Zoe?

KOTLER: And then the other character would say, yes, that's how I was feeling - that you weren't sharing. And it was hurting my feelings. And then when you shared, it made me feel better.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SESAME STREET")

DILLON: (As Elmo) Yeah.

KNOWINGS: (As Chris Robinson) All right. Nice job sharing, Elmo.

DILLON: (As Elmo) All right. Thanks, Chris.

KOTLER: So in that interaction, you're giving children a lot of language to describe how they're feeling.

KAMENETZ: That may be a lot to expect from a 2-year-old.

TURNER: (Laughter).

KAMENETZ: But, you know, apologies are a skill, kind of like learning to scooter. And they improve with practice.

TURNER: Yeah. And starting these kinds of conversations early is crucial to raising a child who runs to help when somebody's hurt. So remember that small study we mentioned of kids on the playground? Well, it also looked in-depth at the parenting styles of their mothers in different situations.

KAMENETZ: When one child hurt another, many of the mothers responded with something casual and bland.

TURNER: Yeah, like - oh, don't do that.

KAMENETZ: But the researchers found that the moms of the helper kids - those 1 in 3 who ran to help - they were different.

TURNER: Yeah. They were warm and nurturing, but they also took it really seriously when their child hurt another child. So they'd say something like...

LICKONA: You hurt Amy (ph). Pulling hair hurts. Never pull hair. And as a result, the child was more likely to take it seriously later on and respond compassionately when she saw another child crying on the playground.

KAMENETZ: Tom also says that children should learn to make an apology of action.

TURNER: What we grown-ups might call restitution - if you break something, you fix it, whether it's a broken toy or a hurt feeling.

KAMENETZ: This is also where things get hard for us grown-ups, too...

TURNER: Yeah.

KAMENETZ: ...Because all the experts we spoke with were really clear - kids do what they see. And Scarlett Lewis says that means when parents screw up, we need to apologize too.

LEWIS: Wow, Mom made a mistake, you know? And I misinterpreted what just happened here. And I got angry. I'm sorry. You know, can you guys forgive me?

TURNER: If anything, Scarlett talks even more about the other side of an apology - forgiveness. That's one of the four core values of her Choose Love program, along with courage. And she says when she first pitched the program, people weren't sure about forgiveness.

LEWIS: That's a very lofty topic for kids. Don't you think that's a little too complicated?

KAMENETZ: Not at all, she says. The Choose Love classrooms have turned forgiveness into a hands-on exercise.

LEWIS: We literally take string and scissors, and we cut the cord because that's how I talk about it. Like, if you're angry at somebody, you're attached to them with an umbilical cord. And it runs out of your side into the side of the person that you're angry at.

KAMENETZ: I love this, too, because Scarlett is really focusing on the benefit of letting go of anger. And she says, you know, holding onto anger - it can be as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes.

TURNER: And it was at this point where, sitting with Scarlett in her kitchen - her back is to her refrigerator, which is covered with photos of Jesse and her other son, J.T., and we just had to ask. We've been talking about forgiveness. Did she forgive the person who murdered her son?

LEWIS: Absolutely.

KAMENETZ: Without hesitation.

LEWIS: Without hesitation, yeah. I - without hesitation, I absolutely forgive him.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TURNER: So we've been talking about kindness in the darkest hours - those moments of conflict.

KAMENETZ: Loss and pain, hurt and anger. And those are really important. I mean, that's when you really need kindness.

TURNER: Yeah. But how do you build kindness up? Well, if you want to really grow kind people, there's a lot you can do when things are good, when you are full of joy.

KAMENETZ: That's our takeaway number 6 - kindness grows with sunlight.

TURNER: What do we mean by that?

AIJA SIMMONS: You have to raise the capital of kindness.

TURNER: Aija Simmons helps run the social and emotional programs for schools in Oakland, Calif. And she focused a lot on kindness when she taught elementary school.

SIMMONS: You have to point it out. You have to name it. You have to appreciate it when you see it.

KAMENETZ: For example, every day, she'd hold circle time. And a lot of times, she'd ask this.

SIMMONS: You know, what were some ways this week where your classmates were kind to you? Turn and share a moment where you felt someone was being really kind.

TURNER: Tom Lickona says it's not just about celebrating kind actions. It's encouraging kids to identify as kind people.

KAMENETZ: Yeah, because people are more likely to be kind if they see it as part of who they are.

TURNER: Yeah. This idea of taking special notice when people are kind to you - well, another word for that could be gratitude.

KAMENETZ: Yeah. Part of how Scarlett keeps going, she told us, is by constantly reminding herself - even out loud - what she's grateful for.

LEWIS: My gratitude lists are all day long. And I start in the morning by ticking off - ah, the sun's out, and ah, I can get up out of bed. And literally, like, I'm ticking them off all day. And when you're focused on gratitude, you're not focused on the lesser-energy thoughts.

TURNER: And Tom agrees. There's a payoff to practicing gratitude in this way. Not only can it raise the stock of kindness in your family, in your classroom, but research shows that people who are thankful are also happier.

KAMENETZ: Yeah. He suggests that at mealtimes, for example, families go around and mention their gratefuls - things that they're thankful for that day.

TURNER: Yeah. We do this in my house.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL RINGING)

TURNER: All right. Who wants to go first?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Me. I'm thankful for animals and pandas.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: Thank you for this food and this day and that my concert's today.

TURNER: It's not always easy. Sometimes, my guys don't really want to do it. They just want to eat.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Thank you for this breakfast and (laughter)...

TURNER: But we do it. The point of all this is to really carve out a time in each day for your kids and you to acknowledge - you know, we're not self-sufficient. We're not islands. We need other people, and other people need us.

KAMENETZ: That's a great point, Cory. I've got to try that.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KAMENETZ: We've come to our final takeaway, takeaway number seven. Kindness requires...

LEWIS: Practice, practice, practice.

KAMENETZ: Yeah. In fact, Scarlett Lewis says...

LEWIS: We were going to change the name of our program from Choose Love Enrichment Program to Choose Love Enrichment Practice.

KAMENETZ: And similarly, Tom says, kindness as a virtue isn't random. It's a habit.

TURNER: And that's not just calling out kindness when you see it in your kids. It's giving them lots of opportunities to be kind, you know? And you can start with chores at home.

KAMENETZ: Chores, yeah. That's a really good idea. So Tom says, you know, not for an allowance but just to give the message that this is what we do to help out because we're part of something bigger. And for my daughter, Lulu (ph), who's 7, that chore really is taking care of the cat. You know, when we got the cat, she promised that she would help out not only with the feeding but also the litter box. This is really giving her the message that there's another creature depending on her.

TURNER: Yeah, totally. And you can also - and should - you know, take this model, this idea and take it out into your community. You know, have your kids help pick up trash in the neighborhood or help folks at a shelter. Raise money for a good cause - whatever it is.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KAMENETZ: And here's the really good news, Tom told us. Getting our kids to be helpers, to be in service - it doesn't just benefit the grown-ups that they become. Doing this regularly actually feels good chemically.

LICKONA: It's what brain researchers call helper's high. Doing a kind act lights up a part of the brain that lets us experience joy.

TURNER: And that's why, he says, we're happier when we're helping. And Jen at Sesame agrees.

KOTLER: Kindness really does make you feel good.

TURNER: And that's why Scarlett says we should talk to kids directly about this helper's high.

LEWIS: There's so much science that shows. And I say all the nurturing, healing love that you give out, you get back.

KAMENETZ: So this is getting me thinking more about that study of middle school students that we opened the episode with. You know, our kids - they hear from us every day, do your homework. Study for the test. How well did you do? And they hear us talk about sweating some promotion or working hard on a project. But, you know, do we ever stop and ask them, were you kind in class today?

TURNER: Yeah. Did you help somebody who was hurting or sit by that kid who always eats alone? It's no wonder our kids so often think that we value grades more than kindness.

KAMENETZ: So I'm thinking more about how to raise the capital of kindness at home. And we've gone through these great strategies, right?

TURNER: Yeah, yeah. I mean, the goal here - everyone we talked to said this word. They used the word culture. You have to create a culture of kindness whether you're talking about home or the classroom or anywhere.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TURNER: Time for a recap, Anya.

KAMENETZ: All right, I'm feeling the love. Let's do it.

TURNER: All right, here we go - takeaway number one.

KAMENETZ: We grownups need to stop sending our kids mixed messages about kindness.

TURNER: Yeah. We say we want our kids to be kind, but we have got to walk the walk. Takeaway number two - kids are born to be kind but also unkind.

KAMENETZ: Yeah. So empathy is part of what makes us human, but - and this is a big but - there's a difference between feeling someone else's pain and actually acting to help.

TURNER: Yeah, kindness is not just a feeling. It's an action.

KAMENETZ: And that's why our takeaway number three is kindness requires courage - the courage to embrace other people's pain, the courage to put other people's needs before your own.

TURNER: But also courage to see someone who's hurt you or a friend or someone in your family not as a bully but as someone who's struggling.

KAMENETZ: The kind of courage to see the world the way Scarlett Lewis does.

LEWIS: There are only two kinds of people in the world - good people and good people in pain.

TURNER: Takeaway number four - to build kindness, practice mindfulness. Being able to stay calm and patient will help you every time.

KAMENETZ: Especially when someone hurts you. So takeaway number five is apologies are a skill, and forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.

TURNER: Remember; parents and teachers alike, the old singsongy sorry - it's not good enough. And when you're on the other side of the harm, forgiveness may feel hard, but it will also feel good in the long run.

KAMENETZ: Speaking of feeling good, our takeaway number six is kindness grows with sunlight.

TURNER: Or, as Jen at Sesame says...

KOTLER: We often are quick to tell children when they're doing something wrong and trying to correct them from doing something wrong. Instead, can we spend more time catching them doing something right, catching them doing something kind?

KAMENETZ: So create a culture of kindness and gratitude - recognition of kindness - in your home and in your classroom.

TURNER: And takeaway number six - kindness takes practice. And grown-ups can help with that by creating opportunities for your kids to be kind.

KAMENETZ: Whether that's chores at home or family service projects out in the community.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TURNER: And that's all for this episode of LIFE KIT for Parenting with Sesame Workshop. And Anya, it's time for our gratefuls.

KAMENETZ: I'm ready.

TURNER: Thanks to all of you out there for listening.

KAMENETZ: Thank you so much. And special thanks to Scarlett Lewis for letting us into her home.

TURNER: And for sharing her remarkable story and her courage with us.

KAMENETZ: Thanks also to Jen Kotler, Rosemarie Truglio and all our friends at Sesame Workshop.

TURNER: And to Sydney Rodriguez and the team at the Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University.

KAMENETZ: And one more big thank you to all the other awesome experts who helped us with this episode - Tom Lickona, Aija Simmons...

TURNER: Kentaro Fujita and Rick Weissbourd.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KAMENETZ: For more NPR LIFE KIT, check out our next episode, where we'll talk about how to raise kids who love math even when you don't.

TURNER: And if you like what you hear, make sure to check out our other LIFE KIT guides at npr.org/lifekit.

KAMENETZ: Yeah, and while you're there, subscribe to our newsletter so you don't miss anything. We've got more guides coming every month on all sorts of topics.

TURNER: And as always, here's a completely random tip. This time - I can't believe I'm about to say this - from my all-time favorite Muppet as a kid, Grover.

ERIC JACOBSON: (As Grover) Hello there, LIFE KIT. It is I, your cute and adorable pal Grover. I wear lots of hats on "Sesame Street," so I know a thing or two about tips. In all my years as a waiter at Charlie's Restaurant, I - oh, I actually never got tips. Oh, well, when I worked as a bellhop - oh, no, come to think of it, I never got any tips then either. Maybe I'm not such an expert on this topic after all. But I will tell you my little secret for staying positive. It is the best tip of all. Love the fur you're in, mmm hmm.

TURNER: If you've got a good tip or a parenting challenge you want us to explore, please let us know. Email us at lifekit@npr.org.

KAMENETZ: NPR LIFE KIT for Parenting with Sesame Workshop is edited by Steve Drummond and produced by Lauren Migaki, Sylvie Douglis, Alissa Escarce and Chloee Weiner.

TURNER: Meghan Keane is the managing producer.

KAMENETZ: Our digital producer is Carol Ritchie, and our project coordinator is Clare Schneider - music by Nick DePrey and Bryan Gerhart.

TURNER: Our project manager is Mathilde Piard.

KAMENETZ: Neal Carruth is our general manager of podcasts. And the senior vice president of programming is Anya Grundmann.

TURNER: I'm Cory Turner.

KAMENETZ: And I'm Anya Kamenetz. Thanks for listening.

TURNER: Thank you.

KAMENETZ: On the mic, on the mic.

TURNER: I can't believe y'all buried the lead.

KAMENETZ: Seriously.

TURNER: Come on. You sing and dance, and you've been here for an hour.

KOTLER: Well, I don't know if I'm allowed to - OK, 'cause - whatever, I'll sing. (Singing) Most parents think that their own kid is kind. Most care about politeness and respect's on their mind. But on empathy, people aren't aligned. So it's got to be better defined 'cause empathy's a big part of kind.

KAMENETZ: Woo.

TURNER: (Laughter).

(APPLAUSE)

KAMENETZ: That was amazing.

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