I’m not sure who said, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind,” but this expression means a lot to me. It means even more now that I am a mom.
As parents, we are responsible for teaching our children countless important life lessons. (No pressure, right?) We teach them to recognize right and wrong, to treat others with respect, and how to have good manners. The absolute most important lesson I hope to teach my daughter as she grows up is the importance of being kind.
Teaching my child kindness is a huge priority to me. Kindness costs nothing, and you can spread it around no matter how young or old you may be.
Often, when you think of random acts of kindness, paying for someone’s coffee, or volunteering comes to mind. If you want to teach your child kindness, it’s best to choose age-appropriate gestures that they can perform and understand.
This past weekend, my daughter, Reagan, and I grabbed an inexpensive bouquet of flowers from the store. I split it up into sections and added a little note on each smaller bundle of flowers that said, “Just for you! Keep the kindness going. Do something nice, just because!” Then, we walked around the University Mall and my daughter handed them out to strangers.
It was incredibly heartwarming to see the reactions of people as a toddler walked up to them, offered them flowers, and said, “Have a nice day!” For the first few, I sort of directed and pointed her toward the people who would receive her gift. Our first recipient was a woman standing with her husband, the pair of them checking a phone and looking stressed. The woman looked so pleased and asked Reagan for a hug before asking me if I was sure she could keep the flowers. The second recipient was an elderly man sitting alone in the food court with a walker and tank of oxygen. His face split into a glowing grin and he reached out his hand for a high five from Reagan. Our third was a woman sitting on a couch in one of the mall’s lounge areas. She said, “Hi, there. Wow, those are pretty flowers,” thinking Reagan was just showing off her pretty bouquet. When she realized they were in fact for her, she had an honest look of shock on her face which turned into pleasant surprise.
I wondered if Reagan would get bored of this or if she would decide she would rather keep the little pink flowers for herself instead of handing them out. But I was pleasantly surprised. Even at her young age of two and a half, she seemed to really enjoy these simple acts of kindness. She was clearly understanding the warm reception people were giving her as they realized what was happening.
As we went on, Reagan would reach for the next bouquet herself and look around to see where to bring it. For our last bouquet, I stood back and watched to see what she would do. She walked right up to a woman who was waiting for her daughter and said, “Here you go!” With tears in her eyes, the woman looked up and said, “That might be the cutest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
The joy we were seeing in people’s eyes (and in Reagan’s) made me wish I had 100 more bouquets in our stroller basket. I can’t wait to do things like this more often with Reagan to continue to show her the huge impact of being kind.
Teaching my child kindness has been uplifting and inspiring to me in a way I didn’t entirely anticipate. To help you get inspired to be kind, I put together a list of 25 kid-friendly random acts of kindness! Some are very toddler-friendly, while others are best suited to you or your older kiddos, but everyone will love making someone else smile!
- Draw a picture and leave it for the mail carrier.
- Bring cookies to a neighbor.
- Fill coin slots on the machines at the local laundromat.
- Give someone at the grocery store a high five.
- Leave spare change on a parking meter.
- Paint kindness rocks and hide them at the park.
- Shake a service member’s hand and say, “Thank You.”
- Invite a new friend to play with you on the playground.
- Hold the door open for someone.
- Bring school supplies to your teacher.
- Set the table for dinner without being asked.
- Take your neighbor’s dog for a walk.
- Write kind messages on the sidewalk in chalk.
- Donate toys you don’t play with anymore.
- Leave a penny heads up on the sidewalk.
- Donate a book for the waiting room at your doctor’s office.
- Return someone’s cart at the grocery store.
- Talk to the new student in your class.
- Give someone in your family a hug, just because.
- Bring some pantry items to the food shelf.
- Help cook dinner.
- Bring some new coloring books and crayons to the children’s hospital.
- Leave a magazine and a couple mini bottles of water in the nursing pods at the mall or airport.
- Read a story to your little brother or sister.
- Leave a sticky note that says, “You are a great mama!” inside a public changing table.
If you needed a specific excuse to be kind (spoiler alert: you don’t) October 5 is National Do Something Nice Day! Get out there, be extra kind, and teach your child kindness!