By Lisa Kaminski; Manager, Community Development
The staff of Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways had a staff meeting Monday at the Cicero service center. One item which was discussed was the concept of kindness. A speech from a recent commencement at a local university was shared which focused on this concept and how, often, when we look back at our regrets in life they revolve around times when we failed at kindness.
Although kindness is not part of the Girl Scout Law, I do think that many of the ideas in the law, and the principles Girl Scouts strive to live by are really, in and of themselves, acts of kindness. Being honest and fair is kind, being friendly and helpful is kind, and being considerate and caring is kind. You see. Personally I think the greatest thing we can do in an effort to be kind is to first seek to understand and then to be understood.
If we can try to understand other people’s motives first, before acting or judging, it makes being kind much easier. It also makes life more peaceful. I think so at least. Maybe stopping for a moment to consider why one of the parents in the troop is upset about having to pay additional money for a field trip, or why a girl in the troop is having a temper tantrum, or why another leader is upset because she was asked to plan a service unit event, would help alleviate the conflict in these situations. Many times we are pulled in so many different directions that we don’t stop to consider whether we are being kind to others. Many times we just react. Most likely there are then two people acting defensively.
Some ways to teach kindness in your troop: learn and talk about the different parts of the Girl Scout Law with the girls, give the girls in your troop jobs to help with, participate in service projects such as helping at a pet shelter, planting flowers in your community, or visiting a senior center, and teach teamwork. As a Girl Scout volunteer you could attend a teambuilding volunteer learning opportunity, discuss the concept of kindness at a service unit meeting, have a contest for the girls in your service unit for completing acts of kindness, or role model the behaviors of the Girl Scout Law to the girls in your troop.
So, the next time someone is acting out of what appears to be anger stop and first seek to understand. Maybe that parent is upset because her husband lost his job and money is tight at home, maybe that girl is having a temper tantrum because her parents are arguing at home, maybe that volunteer is angry at being asked to plan the service unit event because she is spending her free time caring for her sick mother.
If we can go through life remembering one thing I think it would be this – that the people who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways. It would make interactions with others easier if we all wore little signs that told others when something were bothering us. But we don’t. So, let’s teach the girls in Girl Scouting how important kindness and being a sister to every Girl Scout really is. Maybe then we can really make the world a better place.