Heifer International just released a piece called Growing Kindness, which tells one mom’s story about fostering a giving spirit in her preschool-aged kids.
As Austin Bailey writes in the article, “Our job as adults is to teach children about need, and give them opportunities to help.”
Ways families discussed in this piece have helped, including Bailey’s own, range from smashing rotten pumpkins at a community garden, to bringing clothes to a shelter and even performing a one-kid turtle rescue. Older kids, like 12-year-old Ryan Bell (pictured at left) and Zoe Smith (below), have worked to raise over $25,000 for the Heifer Project – impressive amounts that show the power of dedicated kids to support things they care about.
Her thoughtful article got me thinking about ways we weave giving in to our days in my own family – picking out an animal from the Heifer Project’s gift catalog each Christmas, coordinating Thanksgiving food baskets from our preschool, gathering warm coats for a local shelter in the winter. I try to regularly ask about kind things they’ve seen friends do at school, like a buddy helping to clean up after snack, and share simple, thoughtful things I’ve seen and experienced, like the lovely flowers their grandfather brought over for no reason.The most successful, so far, has been building a castle out of red Lego bricks, each given in recognition of a small act of kindness, like helping to shovel the sidewalk or singing a lullaby to their sobbing baby sister.
Sometimes, I think we’re doing OK, but other times, like when there’s a bloody wrestling match over a cinnamon raisin bagel, I’m not so sure.
I’m considering adopting the words of one mom quoted by Bailey as a motto: “Our sons know it’s not what we have that matters, it’s what we give that matters.”
How are you growing kindness in your house?
Photos courtesy of the Heifer Project