The Difference Between Kind and Nice

nice kids

Welcome to the series No More “Nice” Kids. This week, we’re looking at why raising “nice” kids isn’t the same as raising kids who have Godly character. If you missed the beginning of this series, you can find it here.

My younger daughter was upset with me yesterday. I goofed and scheduled two things at the same time on Friday. She has a hockey clinic that has been on the calendar for months, but there's a cupcake decorating class at the local grocery store that she wanted to go to. I had actually signed both girls up for the class before realizing that my younger daughter couldn't go. My daughter's first reaction was to want me to cancel the class for both girls.

In the past, I might have asked her the question, "Is that nice?" but last night, I chose to ask her the question, "Is that kind?"

Kind and nice are often used interchangeably. They seem like synonyms, but they're not. As we have discovered this week, the word "nice" means agreeable and pleasant and is never used in the Bible. The word kind, however, means "full of service to others" or "gentle," according to Strong's Concordance. That's a big difference.

If we teach our kids to be nice, we're not teaching them to have Godly character. We're teaching them to keep the peace at all costs. We're teaching them that the most important thing is how others view them. Being agreeable has more to do with how other people see us than it does to do with our character. You can be agreeable on the outside and full of hatred on the inside.

But when we teach our kids to be kind, we're teaching them to follow God's command. We're teaching them to have a character quality that comes from the heart. You can't be "full of service to others" when you are full of selfishness on the inside. 1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us that "love is kind." Being kind to others flows from our love for them, which can only happen when we allow God to fill us with His love. Kindness is a quality that depends on our relationship with God. It doesn't happen naturally.

When we choose to teach our children to be kind, we choose to teach them to rely on God. We choose to teach them that kindness isn't a feeling; it's a choice. We choose to teach them to become more like Jesus.

And when we switch the conversation from being "nice" to being kind, we give our kids freedom. We release them from the chains that tell them that it's wrong to have conflict with anyone because it's not "nice." Conflict is a natural part of relationships. It's how we deal with conflict that displays our character. When we free our kids from being nice and focus them instead on being kind, we give them tools that are actually useful when dealing with conflict. (Be sure to join me tomorrow as we delve into this topic more deeply.)

Consider changing the conversation from nice to kind in your house. Here are a few simple ways to get that conversation started:

1. Ask your kids to tell you the difference between the words "nice" and "kind." Talk about how being nice means that you're agreeable with others while being kind means you are full of service and gentleness toward others. Discuss the difference between those two definitions.

2. Stop asking your kids to be nice and start asking them to be kind. Remind your kids that being kind doesn't mean you always have to agree with the other person. It does mean that you choose to have a servant's heart toward that person.

3. Remind your kids that being kind doesn't mean being a doormat. God calls us to stand up to injustice. He calls us to speak truth. But He calls us to do those things in a way that is gentle and has the other person's eternal salvation in mind. We want to be kind even when we disagree with others.

4. Point out that we need God's help to be kind. God's love fills us up and gives us the strength and wisdom to be like Jesus. We can't do it on our own. We have to have His help.

While changing the focus in your home from niceness to kindness may seem like a little thing, it can make a big difference. When we free our kids from the constraints of "niceness" and instead have them focus on allowing God to give them the resources they need to be kind, we change the focus from a worldly definition of character to a Godly one.