A few years ago, I was searching for a way to teach my children compassion. Such a challenging concept for small people to grasp. On some scale “compassion” is a natural born instinct. In my home, one of my children in particular, was struggling with the idea of compassion.It became clear to me that Compassion was not as born into us as I had previously thought. I set forth to find a way to bring more opportunities for compassion into our home. The days of kindness became a part of our February endeavors. I witnessed an incredible change in my children during those days of kindness. Because of this, I have occasionally brought the days of kindness to other months of the year. Below, is how I started this “tradition” in our home.
The Days of Kindness
By definition, compassion is to show sympathy for another being’s distress. Children appear to be, naturally, very compassionate. When a friend gets hurt, children present bandaids, toy sharing, etc as gifts of kindness to show compassion. As our children grow, despite our efforts, they are exposed to the hate in the world. They become less in tune with their natural instincts of compassion. The Kindness Elves, were developed as a way to initiate acts of kindness. Pop and Sparkle, are presented to your children through a wonderful book where they discuss how they came to be, where they live, etc. The elves ask two children in the book to do acts of kindness for their neighbors as there is an obvious need. The needs are not HUGE, this does not cost a lot of money, but the needs are huge emotionally. For example, one elderly neighbor is lonely, so the kindness elves suggest that the kids take a boardgames to her home and play with her. Zero cost.
The idea is to encourage the next generation to be more compassionate. To take action when that distress is recognized and to do so through acts of service. Here is what this looked like in our home.
Who Needs Us This Week?
Pardon the messy kitchen and mostly naked children, but collaboration on acts of kindness as a family is rather messy. The above photo was one of our largest acts of kindness. I will say that this one cost a bit and required a lot of my time and energy, but the recipients and my children loved it. They were certain that they made the Kindness Elves proud.
Valentine’s Day of 2017 we were living on base at Camp Lejeune, NC. Fourteen known families in our immediate neighborhood had put their husbands/fathers on a deployment ship (MEU) a few days prior. The boys and I decided that we would make chocolate covered strawberries for those spouses now alone on Valentine’s Day. I know, huge undertaking. Do not start at this magnitude! Ha! Anyway, whether you are a fan of Valentine’s Day or not (my husband and I are not) you are inherently aware of being alone on that day. We set fourth to make 120 chocolate covered strawberries and deliver them to all fourteen families. So we did, but this is how the day went.
The kids awoke to the Kindness Elves leaving them a heart shaped note (pictured above) requesting that they help mom make chocolate covered strawberries. Because it would bring joy to all of the Moms in the neighborhoods who are alone on Valentine’s Day. They were stoked of course because chocolate + Strawberries + Sprinkles = kid fun. We started a long process of cleaning, coring and dipping strawberries. That evening we walked around the neighborhood with a wagon delivering kindness and compassion for their new found situation.
Starting Small and Consistent with Acts of Kindness
Our acts of kindness were sometimes small, but brought great happiness. As you plan out your week of kindness consider any families you know who just had a baby. Consider anyone you know who just had a surgery, or hasn’t heard from you in awhile. Include your children in your own intentions. A local friend of ours had recently had a baby so we decided to make the older siblings play dough to help them feel special as well. The play dough recipe is on my blog.
An opportunity arose to include botany and a school lesson in our acts of kindness when a distant neighbor was building planter boxes. We went to the store and picked out a few different types of seeds and planted them in starters and gifted them. You could also do this with the Target dollar section starter seed kits. Make this work for your family because ALL ACTS OF KINDNESS DO GOOD.
When it is time for Pop and Sparkle to head back to Cloud 9 where they live they depart in the night through the window and they leave a journal to document your acts of kindness throughout the year. Since we are no longer new to this, we have gifted our Kindness Elves kit to another family, but the elves are a beautiful way to start. As the person facilitating the kindness days, the elves come with a whole kit and everything you need to have a success week of kindness days. Once you get the hang of it and planning it out it is easy to incorporate into your year more frequently. Children want to show others compassion and so do adults. We all struggle to find ways to do it simply. By instilling Days of Kindness you will cause a ripple effect that does good as well. Raising compassionate people is challenging, but I hope I’ve given you a useful tool to help accelerate the process. Do good as you go.