One night, after putting my almost three-year-old twins to bed, one of them called to me as I was leaving the room. I sighed, certain he would want “just one more kiss,” to be tucked in again, to get one last drink . . . to put off bedtime just a tad longer. As I looked at him and waited, he softly asked if we could get his teachers donuts in the morning.
Y´all. Guilt instantly fell over me, as I had just assumed he was stalling.
I hugged my son and told him that we would absolutely get his teachers donuts in the morning. Truth be told, he could have asked to get them anything, and I would have probably said yes. My donut-loving son had just asked if we could give to another with no ulterior motive other than to do something nice for someone he cared for. To say I was proud in that moment would certainly be an understatement.
As a mom, I just want to raise good children who grow up to be kind-hearted adults. I’m raising someone’s future husband. And I’m reminded that everything I do counts. They are watching and learning. They are building character that I can only pray is admirable. It’s slightly terrifying! Like when your child transitions from a baby to toddler, and you know it the first time they say something inappropriate. The thing you swear they didn’t hear from you!
That’s why leading by example is so crucial to a child’s upbringing. Sure, I want my children to be successful in school, and I’d love for them to have extracurriculars they enjoy and excel at, but honestly, none of those things matter if they aren’t humble and kind in their successes.
While our family tries to spread kindness each day, one day in particular is pretty special to us. Each September, we celebrate our first child’s birthday here on earth while she parties in heaven. In her memory, we perform acts of kindness in her name.
(To learn more about how we celebrate, or to share your own acts, visit Acts of Kindness in Honor of Emma Kelli.)
Free Ways for Children to Spread Kindness
- Write a letter of thanks to a friend.
- Hold the door open for others.
- Do a chore for a family member.
- Leave a positive message on a sticky note in a public restroom.
- Smile and compliment a stranger.
- Volunteer in your community.
- Mow a neighbor’s yard.
Inexpensive Ways for Children to Spread Kindness:
- Tape quarters at a laundry mat, on a vending machine, or at the car wash.
- Leave a letter and treat in the mailbox for the carrier.
- Drop off water, Gatorade, or sweet treats to a fire or police station or hospital.
- Take flowers to a nursing home.
- Pay for the person behind you in line at the coffee shop.
Regardless of how you choose to spread kindness, the important part is having conversations with your children on what you’re doing and why. Teaching children to be kind just might be the change we need to see in this often-unkind world.
“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” — Howard Zinn