Kindness matters. Think about the time when someone held the door for you, or the time someone in front of you paid for your Starbucks, or the time it snowed, and you came out of work to find that your windshield had been cleaned. Think about the time someone listened to you, someone returned a lost item, or someone gave you a compliment. These random acts of kindness fill our hearts and soul and help us to keep going, to keep the faith that things will work out. These moments matter.
Kindness – the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate – can boost happiness for both the giver and the receiver. It can turn around a sour day, improve relationships, and make us healthier. Sometimes one small act of kindness can save a life. Kindness is an intentional act that shows love to ourselves or to someone else. Kindness matters.
And so I think of my children, of all of the things I want them to be, and one of the most important is to be kind. I have tried to model kindness for my children, and while paying for the McDonald’s for the car behind me is a great example, if I really wanted to cement the concept into my kids’ character, I needed to challenge our family to find ways to make each other’s day better at home, and then to spread that kindness into our community.
Our challenge began with making a list. It helped us to have a reminder of ways we could be kind to each other at home. Here’s what we have come up with so far:
- Make tea for a family member
- Help a sibling clean up their room
- Do a chore that’s not on your weekly list
- Leave a sweet note in a lunchbox or on a pillow
- Apologize without being forced
- Call a grandparent or family member and say hello
- Let someone else pick the game/show/activity
- Use loving words when we make mistakes
My girls were eager to get started. When one was sick, the other made her hot tea without being asked. The next day there was no arguing when we sat to watch a show together. I mean, of course there was still arguing or sibling spats in our house, but there was a little less than usual. One daughter has taken to asking how each person’s day was when we get home, and man, it feels good to be asked and listened to.
After we started our list for home, I came across a challenge from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation to use with my kids. It’s the Kindness Challenge! I’ve printed off the 17-page booklet full of ideas to help make kindness the norm™. The “challenge” is to complete a series of kindness activities to fill in 60 hearts.
I love the activities in this book because they do start at home, with each individual. Through gratitude lists, journal prompts, and self-care activities, we can learn to be kind to ourselves. I think it’s important that we cultivate kindness and gratitude within ourselves so that we can then spread that kindness to our neighbors.
The booklet also includes all sorts of random acts to spread kindness throughout our home and our neighborhood. Starting today, we will challenge ourselves to spread more kindness each day by saying hello to strangers, sending notes of gratitude to our public servants, and making cards for our nursing homes.
Above all, I want my kids to be kind. My hope is that through intentionally adding random acts of kindness to our lives, they will begin to be less random and more the norm. There are many ways to be kind and many opportunities to practice; the not so difficult challenge is to take advantage of those opportunities and spread kindness every chance we get. Because kindness matters.