Daddy — What is being nice? I am yet to answer this to my 3 year old

A few days back, I published this story titled “The three stories I told my 3 year old and learned a lesson myself”. Since then every night and morning we’ve set a ritual to simply reinforce that “small is not bad”.

Right after that one day he told my wife, “I am tired of talking to you mommy”. As we asked him where did he learn it, he mentioned that he learned it in the school.

I told him that I was tired of talking to him and was going to discuss it with mommy and daddy. He is constantly pushing other kids” my 3 year old’s day care teacher told us. Funnily, my 3 year old internalized what was convenient for him to use within a context.

During the evening, as we were at the dinner table, we asked him why was he doing it. “Just for love Daddy” and then he said “may be sometimes they don’t share toys or call me small and I tell them small and mighty — bingo”.

We encouraged that he should continue down this path and be nice to everyone. As we walked up to the bed, he asked me what I consider the most profound question of all — “What is being nice mean?

I stuttered my way to a story (just made up) and my wife reinforced the power of magic words.

Drako — The Dragon had no friends

Drako — The Dragon was a very bad boy. He pushed his friends around, sometimes hit them, and didn’t share any toys. Drako’s friends were now afraid of him and they never played with him. So Drako, The Dragon doesn’t have anymore friends. Do you want to be the Drako?

It was a vehement No from him. We summed by being nice as:

No Pushing, No hitting, and always sharing…

My wife chimed on the Power of Magic words.

The Power of Magic Words

It is saying “Please”, “Thank you”, “Excuse Me”, “Help”, “Sorry”and more importantly talking soft, smiling, listening, and not screaming. The idea was to help him find the words that were socially inspiring.

But still what is being nice?

We solved for the moment but the context of our world is changing and its changing rapidly.

  • We teach kids in school to be united and friendly but watch out for anomalous behaviors right outside the gate and be unfriendly to strangers.
  • We live under the fear of what could happen any moment. At least know our exit gates as soon as we get to crowded location.
  • We teach them self-defense (e.g. Karate and such) while telling them not to hit anyone.
  • We teach our kids how to manage bullying in schools and the general typecasts/stereotypes that exists amongst us.
  • A lot more contradictions.

Many of the above comes with judgment, which builds over time but at the same time social interactions begin to make them judgmental.

All of the above is a tad heavy for a 3 year old. While he learns the world, a very important factor in all of this — So is being nice the hallmark trait? If yes, how do we define it in today’s context?

Image Credit: Karyn Christner

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