courtesy of ERICA LAYNE
Has anyone else noticed how crazy easy it is to get overwhelmed with all of the things we want to teach and work on with our kids? We see their struggles and insecurities, and we want to take each one head on.
But for me at least, wanting to do everything usually leaves me doing a dozen things on a surface level instead of a few things wholeheartedly.
At the beginning of the year, my husband and I decided to focus on just three things this year with our children. That way we wouldn’t get so distracted by all the shiny objects (taekwondo! swim team! science camp!) and the problems that feel big for a couple of weeks but really aren’t (like our son going commando a little too often).
When we were brainstorming, the first thing to pop into my head was kindness.
These 22 acts of kindness may seem insignificant in the grand scheme. But my hope is that by continually doing things like this, your children and mine will develop a habit of simple, everyday kindness that will one day grow into a profound compassion for the people around them.
22 Kid-Approved Acts of Kindness You Can Do THIS Week
(The last five are a bigger investment of time or money, but I bet the memories would reflect that. :))
- Leave bubbles on a family’s doorstep.
- Decorate the inside of your mailbox, so your mail carriers smile every time they open it.
- Record a video love-note and text it to grandparents.
- Send dessert to another family at a restaurant.
- Pay for the drive-through order behind you. (Something about this makes kids giddy.)
- Leave a note and candy or microwave popcorn on a DVD rental machine.
- Help someone load their groceries into their car.
- Visit a cemetery and tidy up overgrown headstones.
- Go outside when the garbage truck comes and wave your little hearts out. (A toddler favorite!)
- Tape change to a parking meter, or run around looking for any that are about to expire and buy the driver more time! (Be warned: Once you do this, your kids will want to do it every time you’re near parking meters. Not a bad thing, though…)
- Dry the slides at the park after it rains.
- Take in a neighbor’s trashcans—or the whole street of them!
- When a sales rep knocks on your door, always give them something to leave with (even if it’s not the sale!). Think: bottles of water or Gatorade, a sleeve of cookies, a travel-size tube of sunscreen.
- Pick up trash in your neighborhood or at the local park.
- Take your child’s teacher a box of tissues or a bottle of hand sanitizers. (Teachers can never have enough of either!)
- Offer everyone in a line a stick of gum.
- Invite some children over for the evening so their parents can go on a date. (What child doesn’t love the excuse to hang out with friends in their jammies?)
- This holiday season, buy a living Christmas tree. After you enjoy it indoors for a few weeks, your family can plant it outside. One less tree chopped; one more tree providing you clean air.
- Bury treasure at the playground. A piece of tupperware filled with small toys or goodies is sure to light up a child’s eyes sometime in the future.
- Offer to pick fruit from an elderly person’s trees. If you see a tree laden with fruit and know your neighbor can’t attend to it, offer to pick it for them. Bonus: fruit for them and fruit for you!
- Sponsor a child. Your monthly contribution covers medical and school fees, healthy food, and more. You can also send and receive letters from your child, which makes the experience much more real for children and adults alike.
- Trade your close-up tickets at a sporting event with a family in the nosebleeds.
My dad and I had a tradition of going to the Blackhawks games together. We always had really good seats. One day before the game, we headed up to the nosebleed section and walked around looking for a father/child pair to give our great seats to. At first the dad didn’t believe what we were doing, but they eventually enjoyed our seats while we sat so high we could barely see he puck. But I was just so excited to see how happy the father and son were with their special surprise. I can’t wait to recreate it with my own boys. Amanda Simkin, Chicago
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong, because someday in your life, you will have been all of these.”
George Washington Carver | botanist, agricultural chemist, inventor, educator