"I love what a kind person you are," I told my son yesterday, after he had spent an hour helping a younger boy he'd never met navigate the playground.
"Thanks, Mom." He grinned at me with a crooked thumbs up. "I like to help other kids."
I chose my words carefully, keeping in mind the advice of Doing Good Together's latest newsletter Praise Worthy? Tips for Effective Praise. When it comes to positive behavior, link it to character, not actions. You are kind is better than you acted with kindness.
It seems like a small change, but our words matter.
At Doing Good Together, we know how the right turn of phrase can encourage more kindness. We know how a great book can cultivate empathy, opening a child up to the feelings and experiences of a stranger.
And we know how much joy, humor, encouragement, and comfort our words can offer. This is why we feature so many projects showcasing your child's original compositions. Here are three of our favorites.
Create Greeting Cards for kids in the hospital.
Send letters to Soldiers.
Set up a Magic Mail station and create comforting mail whenever the mood strikes.
Though the challenges of our messy, contentious modern word require that we get involved in local and global efforts to help others, making time to share uplifting words makes a difference too.
Just in time for the last weekend of National Poetry Month, we have added a new gem to this list!
Recently, we discovered the heart-warming work of Alex Lewis, founder of Car Window Poetry. This young man is using poetry to spread kindness one poem at a time. He's inspiring schools to get involved. He's speaking at workplaces. And he's creating a movement of weekly gatherings dedicated to sharing random acts of poetic kindness.
The instructions for this project are as simple as its name.
Create short, heart-warming poems, jokes, or artwork. You may want to use the free Car Window Poetry cards available here.
Place your poems on car windows outside your school, playground, library, a busy grocery store, or wherever you happen to be. Note: if it's raining or remarkably windy, postpone this step a bit.
Post your poems on Instagram with the #CarWindowPoetry. While you're at it, kindly add #DoingGoodTogether as well!
My son and I recently embarked on a mother-son date with Car Window Poetry. We had a delightful time. First, we nestled into our favorite coffee shop with markers and a stack of free Car Window Poetry cards.
While we doodled and drafted our poems, we talked about words.
- What kind of words and ideas make us smile?
- What words and ideas bring smiles to his big sisters?
- What can we share that might cheer up other people?
Yes, at one point a number of toot jokes were suggested. And gently denied. Yes, he spent a great deal of time rhyming spring with words that do not rhyme with spring (learning opportunity, right?) We ultimately settled on a few of his favorite knock-knock jokes with his own original illustrations.
When our cocoa was gone and our poetry cards were full, we drove to our favorite library and decorated car after car with our cards. Admittedly, I felt a little awkward. Suspicious, even. Touching other people's cars felt strange, and I did pause to remind my son that this is a special project, not a new normal.
As we left our poems on the cars, we talked about who might find them.
How do you think people will feel when they find our poems?
Do you think they'll share them with others?
How would you feel if you found a poem like this on our car?
Where else do you think we could leave little poems and jokes for people to find?
Don't forget to check back later on the Instagram hashtag: #CarWindowPoetry. You may find evidence that your work really did make someone smile. My son couldn't stop grinning when he realized his pickle truck joke hit the mark.
Obviously, once we were out of poems, we wandered on into the library where we discovered a wealth of poetry books for both of us to love.
It's no coincidence that Doing Good Together now offers a compilation of poetry to inspire, comfort, and entertain families.
Check it out!
Looking for more words that matter? Check out these great book lists!
If you like our free resources, you'll love our membership program! Join today and we'll help you keep kindness on your family calendar all year long