My littles aren’t so little anymore. Their feet are fast surpassing mine and it won’t be long before I have to look up to my boys. My daughter is starting to share my clothes and we are daily finding our similarities and differences.
This bittersweet spot of watching them grow and slowly begin to take flight from the comfort of our nest has brought me times of honest reflection. I am reminded of their tiny selves sitting around my kitchen table countless mornings and my achy tired body trying my best to teach them the life lessons of faith and life and love.
I think about the virtues I walked into motherhood attempting to ingrain in them. At the top of my list, like whip cream on the top of a delicious sundae, sits kindness. Kindness for ourselves, kindness for our possessions, and kindness for those we encounter in our walk of life.
Teaching kids kindness is a lifelong process. But helping them understand and practice kindness is a skill that is carefully woven into the being of who they are. Through time and intentionality, we can help them discover that is truly always best to choose kindness and empathy toward others.
What is kindness?
While this seems completely obvious, it is amazing to me in my profession, with children, how often we need to define kindness for kids. Helping kids understand that kindness is reaching out a hand to help and encourage someone else is a key to understanding this positive character trait. It is treating others the way you want to be treated. It is looking past my desires to make someone’s life better, richer, and fuller. I often tell my own kids that it is “just being nice”.
Helping your kid understand kindness
Kids struggle with kindness on different levels in the culture we live in today. Bullies and self-centered relationships are a very real part of growing up. The breakdown of families and the struggle to be able to forgive causes kids to get a skewed view of what sincere kindness looks like.
Kindness is found in the little things we do. Monstrous displays of kindness, while notable, are not necessary to help develop this muscle. Kindness is found in the small ways we interact consistently and over time can create lasting and healthy relationships that withstand any level of difficulty.
Ways to Show Kindness
Here are 13 kindness activities sure to teach your kids the value of putting others first.
1. Gather fruit and put it into a simple basket for a neighbor.
2. Bring your teacher their favorite warm or cold drink to start their day.
3. Give a neighbor’s kids a gently used toy that is rarely played with anymore.
4. Offer to clean up an elderly neighbors yard after a storm.
5. Return the cart to the cart rack for a mom with kids.
6. Help a neighbor carry groceries from the car to the doorway.
7. Deliver warm cookies to a friend who is having a hard time.
8. Take a funny picture and send it to a friend to encourage them.
9. Offer to grab groceries for a mom with a new baby.
10. Post a positive and uplifting comment about a teacher, coach, or someone who has impacted your life.
11. Bring flowers to the hospital or nursing home front desk and tell them you want them delivered to someone who needs a smile.
12. Say please and thank you to the cashier at the store–tell them to have a nice day.
13. Bring a token of appreciation to someone who serves you regularly–the barber, cupcake lady, mailperson, or church secretary.
Each of these simple acts of kindness will allow others to feel loved and appreciated. What other acts can you think of for your child? When kids are able to reach outside their world and extend a hand of love and kindness there is not telling the impact it has.
Each of these small acts has the potential to change the interactions and relationships that we engage in every day.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one other, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, ESV)