One of my favourite quotes is: ‘In a world where you can choose to be anything, choose to be kind.’ I often write this quote on the board of the classroom I am teaching in, I often say it to my own children and I often think it inside my head.
I remember my dear father telling me that the key to a happy marriage, was kindness. He told me, you can be angry or frustrated with your partner, and at times, you will be, but there is never any reason to be unkind. My parents were happily married for 31 years, until my Dad’s death in 2000, and my husband and I will celebrate 12 happy years of marriage, this September, so I think Dad’s words may just be right.
The same idea can and should be applied to all our relationships and friendships and the older I get, the more I feel this and feel that the more we can promote kindness within our children, the better the world will be.
It costs nothing to be kind (another favourite quote) and here are 5 activities that prove it:
Everyone loves to imagine what they would do if they were to win Lotto. Would they buy a car, take a trip, pay off a debt? etc. This activity is a little like that, only your children need to brainstorm ideas that do not benefit themselves. They must choose 5 different people or organisations that would benefit from their win. With the organisations, they also need to be specific (age appropriate). For an older child, they can specify an exact charity or organisation, a younger child can nominate an area (for example: animals or children in poverty). Have your children write down their ideas and share them around the dinner table.
With your child/children, do a Google or Pinterest search for ‘quotes about kindness’. Have your child read through a few and choose a favourite. Then grab art/craft materials and have them turn their chosen quote into a poster or a wall-hanging for their bedroom.
Install a household letterbox, somewhere in your home. You can buy really cute toy letterboxes, you could buy a normal outdoor one from Bunnings, or you could just use a shoe box with a hole. This letterbox is to be used purely and solely for ‘kind notes’ to other members of the family/household. The notes can be as simple as a word or a sentence, or they may be an entire letter. Choose a time of the week when the Mail Delivery Person (a role that can be rotated) gets to open and distribute the notes. This is a great writing activity, too!
‘What could you say? What could you do?’
Play this simple game whilst reading books together or whilst sharing stories of your day. If there is someone in the story who is struggling or hurting in any way, have your child/children answer: ‘What could you say? What could you do?’. You, yourself, can answer too, to give different ideas and broaden their repertoire of kind words and actions.
Whilst being kind to others is hugely important, it’s also important to remember to be kind to ourselves. In our household, we often do this through choosing activities that make us happy and spending allotted time on these activities, but here is another activity you can do with the family; one that allows self-kindness at the same time as kindness to others: for each person in the family/household, use 2 sheets of paper and on each sheet draw the same number of hearts as there are people completing the activity. So, in my family of 4, we would use 8 pieces of paper, each one with 4 hearts drawn on it. To draw the hearts, I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Then give each person one sheet of paper, on which they use the hearts to write things they love about themselves. Their other sheet is used for the other members of the family to each write one thing they love about the person and one thing the whole family values in the person.
So, to use myself as an example, on my own sheet I would write 4 things I love about myself. On the other sheet, my family members (husband and 2 children) would each write one thing they love about me and use the 4th heart to write one thing they, as a family, value about me. When all sheets have been distributed and all hearts are written in, hand them around and have a read. I bet you’ll see a fair few broad smiles on faces and have one on your own.
Kindness is free. Sprinkle that stuff everywhere!
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