Life is busy. Tasks get postponed. Priorities become rearranged. So in 2021, I made doing not-so-random acts of kindness with my five-year-old one of my “21 for 2021” goals – a way for me to hold myself accountable for helping my son be a better human (and, no doubt, making myself a better human in the process).
In today’s world, sometimes it seems that kindness and empathy need to be intentional acts. In giving of ourselves, we become more thankful for the blessings we have. I want to raise children who are considerate of others, who spread cheer, who make others smile. More importantly, I want them to act that way even when I am nowhere nearby. You want that for your kids too, right?
My goal is one act a month. You can do more; you can do less. Do at least one and that makes a difference. I have brainstormed some ideas to help you get started, but feel free to create your own or morph the ones I listed. Spread joy with one act, just like the ripple in the pond. Believe it makes a difference further than you can imagine.
Some not-so-random acts of kindness that can easily be done by younger children:
- Hold the door for someone behind you, and as they pass through the doorway, give a compliment. “Your jacket is very pretty.” “I like those bright colored shoes.” “You walk fast.” “Your beard looks fluffy.” (The innocence of a five-year-old’s complements always warms my heart.)
- Send mail in an envelope with a stamp using a mailbox to a classmate/friend. Yes, old school snail mail brings joy. My son just received mail from a friend. His friend drew a picture, signed his name (so we knew who sent it), and along with the artwork, enclosed 4-5 pages taken from a coloring book. Mazes, coloring sheets, activity pages … fun things for my son to do. What a fun treat to send; what a fun treat to receive.
- Leave a treat for a neighbor. Imagine the smile on your neighbor’s face when finding a gift bag hanging on a front door doorknob with candy, a book, or vegetables from your garden plus a note that says “I’m glad I live by you because …” (and have your child write something they like about your neighbor). Other ideas to put in the bag: In the summertime, we like to leave bottles of bubbles for neighbors, especially those with kids. In the wintertime, consider packets of hot cocoa and apple cider.
- Create a hand bouquet for your child’s teacher or caregiver. Trace your child’s hand on several sheets of colored construction paper. On each hand, write something your child likes about his/her teacher. Attach hands to pipe cleaners with stapler, and arrange in a vase.
These are just four ideas, but be creative and guide your child to be aware of others and other people’s feelings while brightening someone else’s day. I walk with a little more bounce after watching my son do something nice for others and I know I am planting the seeds of a good human in his heart. Isn’t that something we all want for our kids?