Chelsea Clinton Says Wearing Masks Is One of the Best Ways to Teach Kids About Kindness
In a year like 2020, it can be hard for many parents to stay upbeat. But it's possible to remain optimistic if you really commit to it. That's the philosophy that has fueled Chelsea Clinton through these tough times. "I fundamentally believe we have to wake up every day and choose to remain optimistic and to model that for everyone in our lives—most importantly, our children," says the author, global health advocate, and mom of three. And for Clinton, modeling optimism goes hand-in-hand with modeling kindness, which is why it was natural for her to partner with Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation.
Representing the Clinton Foundation's Too Small to Fail initiative, which promotes the importance of early brain and language development, the former first daughter recently sat down with Born This Way to have an online conversation about the ways families can use their extra time with one another right now to discuss and share kindness.
Parents.com later caught up with Clinton about how she and her kids are doing just that this year.
The Conversations Chelsea Is Having With Her Kids
Acknowledging that this year has been filled with so many tragedies and challenges, Clinton shares that she and her husband have been discussing COVID-19 safety protocols with their kids—and framing those actions as expressions of kindness.
"We have talked a lot in our family about how we are showing kindness now by wearing a mask when we’re outside, by keeping a safe distance from others, by supporting our family and friends at weddings, graduations, anniversaries and birthdays over Zoom," says Clinton.
The Heartwarming Ways Her Kids Show One Another Kindness
Clinton explains that in her family, they make it a point to work every day to be kind to one another. What that might look like: "Our older [children] supporting each other’s bedtime story choices and remembering to include their baby brother in their play, asking how we are all feeling, talking about our feelings honestly and openly, saying 'please' and 'thank you' and, now during COVID-19, always wearing a mask outside."
In fact, one of the brightest glimmers of light through the darkness of 2020 for Clinton has been seeing her kids—Charlotte, 6, Aidan, 4, and Jasper, 1—bond with and support one another. "It's been so wonderful to see our two older kids, Charlotte and Aidan, be so deeply and profoundly kind to their baby brother, Jasper," says Clinton. "They have helped him learn how to walk, say his first words, even how to hold a spoon. The fact that they want to be part of nurturing, caring for, and building the humanity of their baby brother has just been such a moving experience for me, and it certainly makes me a very proud mom."
Witnessing her children's kindness with one another has led Clinton to reflect on a particularly meaningful expression, she says. "It makes me think about my grandmother who had a saying that 'each of us has a responsibility to ever be expanding our circle of blessings,'" says Clinton. "It’s so simple, but I think that kindness is one of the best ways to really do that—kindness in what we give, in what we share, and in what we teach and role model for our children and for young people everywhere."
The Downstream Effect of Sharing Kindness
Ultimately, Clinton hopes that aiming to create a culture of kindness in our homes and neighborhoods will make a difference for future generations. "Building kindness into our daily routines—through the conversations we share, listening to our children share their feelings, activities we do together, stories we read together, and the songs we sing—reinforces a child’s natural sense of curiosity and empathy," she says.
In short: "We know that when kids practice kindness grow up to be more kind adults," Clinton points out.
If you're looking to connect with your children and family on these themes, check out the "Let's Share Kindness" toolkit from the experts at Born This Way and the Clinton Foundation's initiative Too Small to Fail, which promotes early brain and language development. The kit includes daily tips, activities, and conversation starters on ways we can show kindness to ourselves and to others.