Cover image for How to raise kind kids : and get respect, gratitude, and a happier family in the bargain / Thomas Lickona.
How to raise kind kids : and get respect, gratitude, and a happier family in the bargain / Thomas Lickona.
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Books, 2018.
Physical Description:
xxvii, 308 pages ; 22 cm
"Can you teach a child to be kind? This vital question is taking on a new urgency as our culture grows ever more abrasive and divided. We all want our kids to be kind. But that is not the same as knowing what to do when you catch your son being unkind. A world-renowned developmental psychologist, Dr. Thomas Lickona has led the character education movement in schools for forty years. Now he shares with parents the vital tools they need to bring peace and foster cooperation at home. Kindness doesn't stand on its own. It needs a supporting cast of other essential virtues--like courage, self-control, respect, and gratitude. With concrete examples drawn from the many families Dr. Lickona has worked with over the years and clear tips you can act on tonight, How to Raise Kind Kids will help you give and get respect, hold family meetings to tackle persistent problems, discipline in a way that builds character, and improve the dynamic of your relationship with your children while putting them on the path to a happier and more fulfilling life"-- Provided by publisher.


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649.7 LIC Book Adult General Collection

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This vital question is taking on a new urgency as our culture grows ever more abrasive and divided.

We all want our kids to be kind. But recognizing that abstractly is not the same as knowing what to do when your son tunes you out or you catch your daughter mocking a classmate who is struggling to fit in. A world-renowned developmental psychologist, Dr. Thomas Lickona has led the character education movement in schools for 25 years and now he shares with parents the vital tools they need to create a culture of kindness at home. Kindness doesn't stand on its own. It needs a supporting cast of other essential virtues - like self-control, good judgment, courage and gratitude. So many things in our society teach a message of selfishness that it takes hard work to foster strong character in our kids. Lickona offers a program for all parents, including those who are struggling - and the confidence it can work.

With concrete examples drawn from the many families he has worked with and clear tips you can act on tonight, How to Raise Kind Kids will help you give and get respect, hold family meetings to tackle persistent problems, set up age-appropriate chores, get control of screens, tackle sibling cruelty, discipline in a way that builds character, and improve the dynamic of your relationship with your children, while putting them on the path to a happier and more fulfilling life.

Author Notes

Dr. Thomas Lickona is the founding director of the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs (Respect and Responsibility) at the State University of New York at Cortland and an advisor to Harvard's Making Caring Common project. He is a past president of the Association for Moral Education. His eight books on character include Raising Good Children , Educating for Character (othe bible of the character education movemento), and Character Matters . He received the oSandyo Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education and is co-founder of the Narnian Virtues project with Mark Pike of the University of Leeds.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Lickona (Raising Good Children) offers practical if old-fashioned advice about raising kids with good character amid an increasingly politically toxic and entitled cultural context. Parents will be heartened by studies showing that kindness--a concern for the happiness of others, driven by goodness-is a human capacity from an early age. However, Lickona's alarmist just-say-no attitudes toward the challenges of electronic device use and teen sexuality limit his work's applicability to 21st-century problems. Similarly, one of his preferred teaching methods, stories with moral messages like the Narnia series, will be too heavy-handed for many modern kids. A long list of conversation starters for families feels significantly more timeless, and the author's general call to be more present for the other people in one's life would be well-heeded. Lickona does not throw much of a lifeline to families in crisis, but he projects a strong attitude, supported by a solid toolbox of ideas, to make kindness and its associated virtues a daily presence in homes and schools from the start, and to tweak already functional families into becoming the best people they can be. Agent: Robin Straus, Robin Straus Agency. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Founding director of the Center for the 4th and 5th R's (respect and responsibility), developmental psychologist Lickona (Educating for Character) is world renowned as an advocate for character education and advisor to Harvard University's Making Caring Common project. Using cutting-edge advances in moral development, brain research, and traditional wisdom (studies show that the earliest signs of empathy are found in babies, who cry longer and louder when they hear another child wailing), the author shares strategies for promoting kindness in an era of toxic political and entitlement culture. According to Lickona, the person we become is largely based on which "wolf" (compassion or cruelty) we feed by our choices. Lickona's approach centers on respect, fairness, and self-discipline through a parent's example and action. He also touches on topics he believes tilt society toward kindness (or malice), such as screen usage and a hypersexualized culture. VERDICT Chock-full of straightforward tips and principles for creating a home that cultivates empathy, this work offers essential advice for all parents and teachers interested in character development. © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



This a book about kindness--how to teach it to your children, foster it at home, and spread it beyond your immediate family. You may have picked it up because you are just starting out as a parent and want to do everything you can, from the outset, to nurture kindness in your child. Or you may feel you have a child who isn't kind--or isn't as kind as you want them to be--and you'd like to try to change that. You may feel that all too often your family's interactions--between adults, parent to kid, and among the kids themselves--are not as respectful as you'd hope. You'd like to see more cooperation and less complaining. Anyone who offers advice about parenting has to do so with great humility. You may have heard the story about the man who taught a class on child-rearing called Ten Commandments for Parents. People came from far and wide to learn how to be better parents. Then he got married, and he and his wife had a child. A couple of years later, he renamed his class Five Suggestions for Parents. Then they had another child, and not long after, he renamed the class Three Tentative Hints for Parents. After their third child was born, he stopped teaching the class altogether. A humorous story but with a valid point: there's no secret formula for raising kids, no 10 easy steps that can guarantee the outcome. Raising human beings isn't like baking a cake or fixing a flat tire. As I watched my son valiantly trying to keep his cool while dealing with yet another conflict among his children, it seemed to me a more accurate title for the book you're about to read might be something like: How, on Your Good Days, to Try to Get a Little Bit Better at Helping Your Kids Be a Little Bit Kinder . But that was a lot to fit on the cover. That said, I do believe there are important principles and practices--some drawn from the wisdom of the ages, others from contemporary advances in moral development and brain research--that can guide you in helping your child on the road to good character. We know that children thrive on a combination of support (lots of love) and challenge (high expectations and accountability). We know that good character involves knowing what's right, caring about what's right, and doing what's right--and that doing is the hardest part. Modern moral psychology confirms what Aristotle taught centuries ago: We become good by doing good. For that reason, a parent has to be a "character coach," teaching character skills like self-control and kindness in very deliberate ways and then helping kids practice them again and again, in everyday situations, until such behaviors become easier and more of a habit. Being a character coach means giving your children opportunities for moral action in family life, such as doing chores; playing with, reading to, or caring for a younger brother or sister; helping without being asked; making amends after doing something wrong; and taking part in problem- solving sit-downs where everyone has a voice and responsibility to help to create a happier, more peaceful family. It also means talking to your kids about doing the right thing even when it's hard. It means helping your children to learn from their mistakes and to recognize the times when they may not have resisted temptation or peer pressure. You want them to know that being a good person and doing what's right often isn't easy, but that there's no other way to have self-respect or be truly happy. The toughest part of being a character coach is doing so in the heat of the moment, when you're tired, frustrated, or running late and your kids are not doing what you ask or are on the verge of a meltdown. In the rough and tumble of family life, you usually haveto do something on the spot to deal with the problem at hand. At the same time, you want your immediate response to have longterm benefits that prevent variants of the scenario from happening again. You want to address undesirable behavior in a way that helps your children grow in maturity. You want to help them make progress toward becoming a person of character--someone who is self-controlled, glad to be helpful, respectful, and brave enough to do what's right regardless of what others are doing. Much of what I've learned about parenting has come from my experiences in the trenches as a father of two boys and now as an observing and involved grandfather of fourteen children between the ages of five and twenty-two. I am, by training, a developmental psychologist with a specialization in the moral development of children and adolescents. My first book for parents, Raising Good Children , was a guide to help children develop through the stages of moral reasoning, the process of understanding why some actions are right and others wrong. But moral reasoning is only one part of character--the "head part." Good character also involves "the heart" (caring about what is right) and "the hand" (putting what you know to be right into practice). In my work with parents over the past fifty years, my focus has become character in the full sense: head, heart, and hand--knowing the good, desiring the good, and doing the good. During that same period, I was a professor of education at the State University of New York at Cortland in upstate New York, helping to prepare the next generation of teachers. A central pillar of my professional career has been training teachers to be character educators, and I continue to direct the character education center that I founded there. Most people who go into teaching want to make a difference in a child's life. There's no better way to do that than to help them develop good character. Character education is not a new idea--it's actually one of the oldest missions of American schools. In the early days of the republic, all kids had to go to school to learn two things: literacy and virtue. If there was to be government by the people, then these people would have to be committed to democracy's moral foundations: respect for the rights of individuals, voluntary compliance with the law, participation in public life, and concern for the common good. Benjamin Franklin said, "Nothing is more important for the public good than to train up youth in wisdom and virtue." Ben Franklin might be discouraged if he were around today. That's not to say that there weren't problems in his day, but at this point in our nation's moral journey, it can sometimes seem like we're going backward. In public opinion polls, a majority of adults say they think most Americans are less moral than they used to be. They think that our political system is broken and that the government doesn't listen to or care about people like them. But there are signs of a movement afoot--even in our current, often unkind culture--to change this. To be sure, it remains an uphill battle, and it will take the two great formative institutions--the family and school--working together to turn things around. Of those two institutions, the family has the job of laying down the first building blocks of morality and character. In principle, schools build on that base and extend it, but many families have been so dissatisfied with what they have found at school that they have chosen to take on the task of educating their children themselves at home. Just as often, schools feel that parents aren't doing their part to teach things like respect and kindness, leaving teachers to take up the slack. In the early nineties, national organizations such as the Character Education Partnership (now and Character Counts! came on the scene to promote the goal of comprehensive character education in every school. A strong partnership with parents was a pillar of this movement, whose ultimate aim was for every child to attend a school where he or she would be valued and cared for in a productive learning environment where they would be taught to practice the virtues that make up good character. We're a long way from achieving that goal, but the vision is out there. At the same time that character education was gaining momentum, we launched the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs (Respectand Responsibility) at SUNY Cortland. I had been gathering best practices in character education for many years, working with teachers and studying exemplary schools across the United States and Canada. Drawing on those practices, I published Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility , which caught the wave of the growing interest in character education. Soon after that, our Center began training principals and teachers in the comprehensive approach that Educating for Character described. Today, initiatives like Harvard's Making Caring Common and the Leadership Academy for Character Education at the University of Missouri at St. Louis are providing fresh impetus for the character education movement. From the perspective of character education, every moment ofthe school day is a "character moment." Every experience, every interaction-- in classrooms, in corridors, on the playground, at the Friday-night football game--has the potential to shape the values and character of a child, for good or for ill. That's even more true of the interactions you have with your child at home. You are your child's first and potentially most powerful character educator. I hope this book will offer you hope, affirm the good things you're already doing, and give you some new strategies for your toolbox that will help you support your child's character development andcreate a culture of kindness and respect in your home. The Challenge Parenting is the hardest job on the planet. It taxes our energies and tests our character. We often see our own faults--pride, impatience, a strong will, a short temper--reflected or magnified in our children. "God gives us children to teach us humility," sighed a young mother of a four-year-old boy. Every child is different. Temperaments vary widely. Some kids are calm, some hyper. Some are focused and organized, others impulsive and distractible. Some are very sensitive and dissolve into tears at the slightest scolding. With others, our words seem to go in one ear and out the other. Some seem to come by sharing and generosity naturally. Others struggle to acquire such behaviors. Some seem born to be cooperative and obedient; others are stubborn and always testing the limits. Many are relatively easy during the childhood years but tougher in the teens. With others, just the opposite is true. Boys and girls present different challenges, and not necessarily in predictable patterns. All of this makes parenting an art, not a science. From infancy on, we have to try to understand our children's individual personalities, pay attention to how they respond to what we do and to the world around them, find out what works best in eliciting their strengths, and help them with their difficulties. And no matter how much we learn from living with them or from reading books or taking courses on parenting, there will still be aspects of our children's individual personalities and our relationships with them that we may never fully understand. Nevertheless, we should begin to think now about the kind of people we hope our children will be when they are grown men and women. Wise parents see themselves as "raising adults." Will they be responsible adults who live by high moral standards? Will they make faithful husbands and wives and loving mothers and fathers? Will they contribute meaningfully to their community and to society? This is not to say we control the outcome. Some years ago, after I spoke to parents at a high school, a mother came up to me and said: "I have three sons. The first two are hardworking and responsible. The third says he's a hedonist. He's twenty-six and says his sole purpose in life is to have a good time. Where did I go wrong?" After a lighthearted reassurance that "two out of three isn't bad," I reminded her that there is not a one-to-one correspondence between our efforts as parents and how our kids turn out. We do not create the person our child becomes. That is influenced by a host of factors, including their genes and innate temperament; the idiosyncrasies of their brains; the ever-changing world they're growing up in; their teachers, coaches, and schools; the presence or absence of a spiritual support system in their lives and a belief in something larger than themselves; the company they keep and the popular culture, social media, and other influences they take into their minds, hearts, and souls. To a large degree, our children create their character by the choices they make every day. Or, as the new brain research would put it, they "wire and rewire their brains" constantly by what they choose to do and experience. Fourteen-year-old Anne Frank, before the Gestapo captured her family, put it this way in her diary: "Parents can give good advice and put their children on the right path, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands." Our role as parents is to do the best we can. It's to make the most of the countless opportunities we have to contribute to our children's growth in character. In doing that, we need to take the long view and work to lay the best possible foundation for growth. If your children are already teens and you feel you've made mistakes, have the confidence that it's never too late to make a fresh start. We can't change the past, but we can choose the future. Our children are a work in progress; so are we as parents. Make a list of what you already do well as a parent and build on those strengths as well as working on what you can do better. Get support by talking with your spouse. If you're a single mother or father, or if your spouse is not receptive, find at least one other parent to talk to about parenting. Let's look now at the challenges of trying to raise kind kids in our current, often unkind culture. In today's world, creating a family culture of kindness and respect will in many ways be countercultural. But it's still possible. It will be harder with some children than others, but we can help every child make progress onthe road to good character. How to Use This Book I'd encourage you to read this book in whatever way you feel is most useful to you. The chapters follow a logical progression, but I've written them so they stand alone. You can read and make use of each one without having read the one before. Take a look at the table of contents and see what interests you most--perhaps what speaks to "where the shoe pinches." If you have questions about discipline, you might want to start with chapter 7. If you're concerned about how to give and get respect, go straight to chapter 6. For the 10 essential virtues that make up good character and how to foster them, read chapter 5. If you want to work now on building a family culture based on kindness and respect, chapter 4 will give you 6 key strategies. If you can't get your kids to do their chores, chapter 4 will help with that, too. If you feel screens have taken over your family, read chapter 9 for ways to get control of that. Never done a family meeting? The steps for a successful one are laid out in chapter 8. I encourage you to try this soon; approached in the right spirit, it will boost the happiness of your home in ways you can feel. Want some quick ways to have better family conversation? That's in chapter 11. Is your kids' complaining driving you crazy? chapter 12 has ways to teach and practice gratitude in family life. If you have teens or preteens and are concerned about the hypersexualized world they have to grow up in--including the new challenges posed by the worst aspects of social media and ubiquitous Internet pornography--I hope you'll find support and practical help in chapter 15. If you wonder what you can do to try to create a more positive societal culture instead of the increasingly angry one we're now struggling with, chapter 2 speaks to that. And if you want a glimpse of "schools of character" (I hope your kids are able to goto one) that make teaching kindness and respect a top priority, you'll find that in chapter 15. If you enjoy inspiring quotes, are looking for children's books that build character, or want some fun family projects that foster kindness and purpose, those are all in the appendices. Okay-- roll up your sleeves and dig in! Excerpted from How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain by Thomas Lickona All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Dedicationp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Author's Notep. xvii
Introductionp. xix
Chapter 1 Why Kindness Mattersp. 1
Chapter 2 Does Our Culture Cultivate Kindness?p. 14
Chapter 3 Kids' Capacity for Kindness-and Cruelty-Is There from the Startp. 30
Chapter 4 How to Create a Positive Family Culture: 6 Key Principlesp. 41
Chapter 5 10 Essential Virtues That Help Kids Be Kindp. 69
Chapter 6 Respect and Fairnessp. 85
Chapter 7 Discipline: What's in Your Toolbox?p. 100
Chapter 8 Family Meetings: Working Together to Create a Happier Familyp. 134
Chapter 9 Getting Control of Screensp. 149
Chapter 10 How to Help Your Kids Develop Good Habits (and Break Bad Ones)p. 168
Chapter 11 How to Talk About Things That Matterp. 181
Chapter 12 Cut the Complaining! 10 Ways to Teach and Practice Gratitudep. 203
Chapter 13 Using Stories to Teach Kindness and Other Virtuesp. 212
Chapter 14 Schools That Cultivate Kindnessp. 225
Chapter 15 How to Help Your Kids Avoid the Dangers of a Hypersexualized Culture-and Find True Lovep. 236
Appendix A Character Quotations for the 10 Essential Virtuesp. 267
Appendix B Books That Teach Virtuesp. 275
Appendix C Family Projects That Foster Kindness and Purposep. 279
Notesp. 283
Indexp. 297