Last year I discovered the power gratitude could have in my life – it all began with exploring an attitude of gratitude and then extended further into my actions. I had always cultivated a spirit of gratitude and kindness in my children from a young age, but have been working on being more intentional and moving more towards more community acts we can take on this year now they are 7 and 8 years old.
Teach our children to focus on the positive and find gratitude
- Create a gratitude journal – older children can write on their own / photograph things they are grateful for and younger ones can be part of a family journal
- Reflect together on the best parts of their day – doing this regularly can help them pause and find the good in their days
- When they are seeking new things out of boredom or wanting to be like their friends look at all they already have (if they have genuinely grown out of / lost interest in their books and toys see “service” ideas below for donating and passing on things)
Celebrate big and small
- Teach and acknowledge that they are on a learning journey so they are kind to themselves as they begin new challenges – shift focus to steps they have taken rather than where they still need to get to
- Call grandparents and relatives / special people to share their progress
- Keep a journal, a chart or a keepsake method (like a jar you place notes in) they can refer back to and see all the great things they have done, positives in their life, wonderful experiences and memories
Be a family of service and explain why you are helping
- Volunteer formally in your community if kids are old enough (preschoolers and primary kids can often get involved in nature conservation or animal shelter assistance in many places)
- Volunteer informally amongst your local community
- help with chores or errands for an elderly neighbour
- help with gardening / mowing / pulling weeds
- cook food for a family in need or with a new baby
- pick up litter when you see it, especially common at local playgrounds
Be helpful and kind in your day to day life – at school, with friends, with neighbours
- hold doors open
- carry groceries
- return someone’s shopping trolley to the stand
- hold the elevator for someone you see rushing to catch it
- invite someone shy to join your group at recess / play break
- say thank you and wish your teacher a good weekend
Show appreciation for gifts and kindness you receive
- create thank you cards together
- teach your children how to receive gifts graciously even when they don’t like them
- thank someone for sharing food with you
Connect with the spirit of holidays
- At a time when many focus on things they want it is a great opportunity to shift the focus to thankfulness and giving (without having to deny our children fun and gifts)
- Participate in Operation Christmas Child - our playgroup coordinated this every year. You can take charge and organise one locally if it is needed or simply fill a shoebox or two. This is a great way for children to get involved as they can select the items.
- Select a gift together to place under one of the giving / wishing trees in your local shopping centre
- Collect donations of small books and toys and craft items for your local hospital – my girls and I started this 4 years ago and send out an email to all our friends each year and arrive at the hospital with upwards of four or five shopping bags filled to the brim. I explained to the kids that some children are sick or get hurt over the holidays and don’t even get to be at home. This way children waiting in the ER or staying as patients have small things to keep them occupied or cheered up. Last year one of our friends ended up in the ER suddenly with her daughter and she reported back how helpful it was to have something.
- Visit a nursing home and bring treats and small presents (like socks, handkerchief, soaps, flowers) and spend some time with people who may be without family at this time of year. Let your children (and their friends if possible) be surrogate grandchildren for an afternoon.
- Make it an annual ritual to clear out items no longer needed or wanted and donate them to charities and local schools and daycares or pass on to other families. My kids especially love knowing where their things are going.
Random acts of kindness
- You are never too young and no act of kindness is too small – you can sit down and brainstorm ideas as a family, explain how they can grab opportunities to be kind every day. If you need more inspiration check out the website random acts of kindness which has a wealth of resources or my post yesterday where I shared many other ideas for gratitude and kindness actions you can take.
- acknowledge small acts of kindness in your home – sharing, caring, taking turns, helping with chores
- talk about ways they can be kind at school
- set a goal to come up with (and actually do) a certain number of R.A.K.
Have you talked specifically about gratitude or kindness with your kids – any tips, ideas, books you read together?
Find your simple,
Image for RAK poster – from randomactsofkindness.org This and many other resources are available on their website.