Be Nice, but also be Kind


Developing empathy, compassion and well-being for others is a skill that we all need to have but growing that skill is not easy. And one of the reasons why it’s not is that it those things were not taught to us in school at an early age. We learn much faster in our formative years when our brains are developing and forming new neural connections. Take learning language as an example. You probably use about 5000 words in your speech and most of them you would have learnt by the age of 7. Contrast that with trying to learn 100 to 200 words for an advanced language exam as an adult!

Given this backdrop, it is heartening to note that there is a global movement to teach emotional intelligence in schools. Approaches vary and different schools are adopting different models. One interesting model and more interestingly named one is ‘The Kindness curriculum’, thanks to a challenge by the Dalai Lama. (

It is developed by the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in which preschoolers are taught to pay closer attention to their emotions through games and stories. Some of the core principles of the program are:

a.      We can’t always control what is happening outside us. But the children learn that they can control how they respond. Not react but respond.

b.      Parents and teachers are always telling their children to be “nice.” Small children understand what “nice” is but often do not understand what “kind” is. They learn to define it not so much in words as through behaviours.

c.      The more aware children are of their own emotions, the better they are able to empathize with the feelings of others and to respond to them in a helpful manner.

d.      When a child is unkind to another child in the class, they learn that it’s usually about themselves and how they are feeling. They learn to be mindful through simple acts such as ‘take a moment and just breathe’ and thereby avoid acting out against others.

e.      Kindness to oneself or self-compassion is a key - When let’s say you do poorly in a test, you change your inner voice from ‘I’m stupid,’ to ‘I have more to learn’. This way the children start believing in themselves.”

All of the above skills are central to the concept of Emotional Intelligence. These skills are life skills which when learnt early will help those kids become more responsible adults when they grow up and lead more enjoyable and fulfilling lives.

#FC2E #EQ #EmotionalIntelligence #SumanInsights