As parents, we have so many hopes and dreams for our children’s future. One of my biggest hopes is that my boys are kind and helpful. Let me preface this post to say that my boys do plenty of unkind and unhelpful things. They have their share of brotherly fist fights. My 5 year-old is a hitter, and will come out of nowhere to retaliate when his 7 year-old big brother stirs the pot. They say mean things to each other and my husband and I. They destroy blocks of styrofoam right before bed time in the freshly vacuumed living room. Despite this self-centered developmental stage, we try to encourage them to overcome some of their natural human reactions by exposing them continually to our core family values of kindness and helpfulness.
We have developed a mantra: Be brave. Help your teachers and be kind to your friends. I say this every day before my boys go to school. I have said it since they were toddlers. In fact, when my oldest son started Kindergarten, all I could get out was “Be brave,” before I was overcome by tears. My son said, “Help your teachers and be kind to your friends. I know, mom.” I was thrilled he was able to complete our mantra despite the fact that he rolled his eyes and shrugged off my embrace. I want to encourage my boys to think about kindness and helpfulness as the last thing I say to them in the mornings.
As we wrap up each day, I chat with each boy about the best things and yuckiest things about their days. This exercise has provides us with a silly time or a safe place to share about a struggle they are dealing with. About a year ago, I added a question to have them tell me something they did that was kind or helpful.
When we began, they usually didn’t know what they could do that was kind or helpful. So, we began to talk through some ideas of how they could be kind and helpful. Our list included holding the door for someone, picking up trash on the floor in their classroom, letting someone go in front of them in line, passing out papers for their teacher, and bringing a note and a small gift to their teacher. As I was sharing this idea with a friend of mine, she told me she was going to start this conversation with her own children. She was happy to report back that her Kindergartner asked her what SHE had done that was kind and helpful that day. I love that question, so I decided to start sharing with my own kids about the kind and helpful things I did that day in order to demonstrate that kindness and helpfulness is a lifelong goal.
Kindness and helpfulness are going to be a summer project for our family as well. A quick search on the internet for “Kindness Challenge for Kids” revealed hundreds of fun suggestions. Our family has made a list of some things that we are going to do and we want to see how many kind and helpful things we can do before summer is over. Our list includes: making cookies for the local fire station, helping grandparents do yard work, taping some coins to a vending machine, painting “Kindness Rocks” and delivering them to local parks, and drawing pictures at the end of the driveway for the people to enjoy who walk by. Our ideas are fun and easy, but hopefully they put a smile on lots of faces.
Images by Erin Kata Photography
What can you do that is kind and helpful with your family?
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