National Random Acts of Kindness day is coming up on February 17th and is a wonderful opportunity for us to think proactively about kindness in action with our kids. The act of extending a kindness is a wonderful opportunity to have an open dialogue with your kids about different ways you can brighten someone’s day. When we practice kindness by doing helpful good deeds on this day, hopefully we can remember to do it more often. As with anything we practice, the more we practice it, the more it becomes a habit. So this holiday is a nice reminder of all the little ways we can collectively make a big difference.
Volunteer your time. Find a creative way to give back to your community. Offer your time at a retirement home, offer help at an animal shelter or help make a meal at a local homeless shelter. Give your kids the first hand experience and the gratification that comes from hard work on the behalf of others. Do your research and have the conversation beforehand about what to expect and then after it is over about what the experience was like.
Cook a meal together and invite over the neighbors. Nothing makes people feel cared for more than a good meal eaten in good company. Extend your table and make a crowd-friendly meal like a big lasagna and an even bigger salad and get to know your neighbors. Even young kids can help with set up and clean up and everyone might make a bunch of new friends in the process.
Surprise someone you love by making their day. Sometimes we think that doing a charitable act has to be for a stranger, when in fact, most opportunities for thoughtfulness and generosity are right under our nose every day. Bake your best friend a cake, just because. Buy grandma a beautiful sweater in her favorite color because, why not? What is better than getting a treat when you least expect it? Your kids will love being in on the surprise and will be overjoyed at the happiness it creates.
Pick up trash and beautify the neighborhood. Find a way to put into action the philosophy of “Think globally, act locally,” by getting down and dirty and mobilizing a beautification team. Do anything from picking up litter, revitalizing a playground with some fresh paint or planting some trees in a place for all to enjoy. Get all necessary permission first, but find a way to bring everybody together with the collective intention of taking pride in your community and volunteering your time.
Lead by example. Even if it is a small act, like giving up your seat on a train or leaving a large tip for a hardworking waitress, your kids learn by example. Making a point of talking to your kids about why you’re going the extra mile for someone can get their wheels turning. This can help them formulate their own ideas about everyday ways to practice kindness in their own lives, be it sitting with a new classmate on the playground or being more generous at home with a sibling.
Let us all take this February 17th to send the ripple effect of kindness out with the hope that it may reach many hearts.