Random Acts of Kindness Week is February 10 – 16. Kindness, volunteering, and helping others does more than just create a stronger community, it makes the giver feel good, too. One thing that’s incredibly important to me as a parent is raising givers; kids who look at the world and ask, “How can I help?” Thankfully, compassion and kindness can be cultivated with deliberate attention. A researcher from the University of Wisconsin says, “It’s kind of like weight training, we found that people can actually build up their compassion muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”
My four- and six-year-olds helped me brainstorm a list of kind, thoughtful, caring things we can do together as a family. We wrote our list up on our chalkboard wall, and will add to it as we think of, and practice, more acts of kindness. We’re going to start spreading a little extra love this week, and get in the habit of performing random acts of kindness all year round!
Our new motto: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” — Aesop
Here are eight of our future Random Acts of Kindness:
Random Acts of Kindness 1 of 9
Our list includes everything from saying thanks to the helpers, teachers, and caregivers in our lives to keeping snakes alive. (That's my four-year-old's way of saying he'd like to save endangered species, like anacondas.)
Say Hi To A Stranger 2 of 9
This one especially applies to my 18-month-old who's an expert at saying "hi" and "bye". It's her favorite to brighten a stranger's day, since sharing slobbery baby kisses would be a major germ spreader. She's been known to wave enthusiastically at cars parked next to us at the stoplight, resulting in grins for the passengers of two vehicles, ours and theirs.
Be Kind To Animals 3 of 9
In the last six months, we lost both our dog and our cat, so my three kids have thought a lot about compassion for four-legged friends. Simply being kind to animals, from never chasing peacocks at the zoo to being gentle with a friend's dog, is on the top of our list.
Shop For A Food Pantry 4 of 9
My four-year-old asks a lot of questions about the people on the corners holding signs, and he wanted to find a way to help. We've talked about food pantries and homeless shelters, and he's now excited to go to the store and pick out food to give to the local food pantry. Since I know that cash can go a lot further than non-perishables, we're going to combine the bag of non-perishables with a modest check.
Read All About It 5 of 9
Pick Up Trash 6 of 9
My six-year-old's favorite from our list: a simple trash pick-up. It's easy to grab a stray candy wrapper or two and throw them in the garbage, and it's something everyone from toddlers on up can do.
Play With A New Friend 7 of 9
Reaching outside of their regular circles and playing with new friends, or inviting someone to join a game who looks lonely, is a way to brighten someone's day. Their idea reminded me that I, too, should reach out to some new friends and invite them over for dinner.
Cookies! 8 of 9
We love to bake and eat around here, so we'll be baking a few goodies and sharing some with our neighbors. This is one act that's more fun if it's stealth kindness — drop the wrapped cookies off with a nice note, but don't say who they're from. My kids love the chance to be "kind ninjas", as they call it, and surprise someone with a warm gesture.
Donating to a good cause 9 of 9
My kids plan to take a few dollars from their piggy banks to save endangered animals, which I'll generously match with a donation of my own.