SEVEN TIPS FOR CLOSE-TO-HOME KINDNESS
Perhaps your little ones are shy, or like to stick close to home. Service to others doesn't have to involve strangers or traditional volunteering. In fact, when teaching small children the value of empathy and caring, you'll often get further if you start with familiar people and places. Here are simple ideas for making caring an everyday family habit. Happy summer, everyone!
-Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
IDEAS WITHIN ARM'S REACH
Make a Difference.....
Even if you don't have time for a regular volunteer project, your children learn immeasurably by watching the small differences you make. Below are "kindness practices" you can start right now.
- Hold a door. When you're out shopping with your kids, hold the door for the person behind you, help an elderly person lift something heavy, pick upsomething that's fallen (even if you didn't drop it), smile atothers and thank someone for a simple kindness.
- Share what's growing. Have a garden? Share a bouquet ofzinnias, a basket of tomatoes or a bunch of basil with friends orneighbors.
- Assist with lawns or pets. Do you have neighbors who areelderly or whose spouse who is ill or serving in the military? Lend a hand by watering, sweeping, pulling weeds or walking their dog.
- Tidy the 'hood. Make a habit of caring for your surroundings. Carry a small trash bag onyour neighborhood walks, and move leaves and debris away from storm sewers to keep water runoff moving during rainstorms. When hiking, leave wilderness spots cleaner thanhow you found them.
- Have a fun kindness conversation. What's the fun part? Download and print out our veryown kindness conversations fortune teller and play with it together with your kids. Ortry our printable placemat to start some BIG discussions at dinner.
- Bake and share. Whenever your family bakes a batch of cookies, muffins or bars, wrap afew to share with neighbors or friends.
- Spread good cheer. Think about ways your child can show thoughtful creativity. If you're hosting a family barbecue, have them make a welcome sign or place cards. If it's a reunion, perhaps they could help you design nametags.
SMALL WAYS TO MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
Talk About It.....
You've heard the expression "practice what you preach." But it's also important to "preach what you practice." When you see opportunities for small acts of kindness closeto home, take them. But then be sure to explain to your children why you gave back change that wasn't due you, why you try to remember people's birthdays, why you gave up your seat on the bus to someone. Talk about how you value thoughtfulness and the simple ways your family can live that out each day.
Learn About It.....
Miss Tizzy by Libba Moore Gray. (Ages 4-8) We've recommended this one before, but it's too good not to mention again. With her colorful daily adventures, Miss Tizzy shares true friendship with the children in her community. When she becomes ill, the children offer her strength and support using all she taught them.
Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein. (Ages 3-7) This fun book tells the story of how small acts of kindness make a big difference - and even travel around the world.
"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."
– Henry James, American author