We are our children’s biggest role models in how to grow up to be good humans. Yet in our running around, hectic scheduled mayhem that is so common today, we just might be teaching them the wrong set of values.
Teaching your kids how to be kind (now and in every day) is an important part of modelling as a parent. As the world shifts and changes, more than ever it is important to teach your kids kindness as a crucial part of their core set of values.
The holidays can be crazy for sure but it is also the most wonderful time of year. It is a time to be grateful, to spread joy, to embrace the holiday spirit and most importantly to be kind.
I know, I know, there is so much going on but TRUST ME, being kind is super easy.
This year we brainstormed WITH our kids on what we could do to be kind this holiday season and this is what they came up with.
Teach Your Kids To Be Kind By Getting Them Involved
Handwrite a note
Take the time to tell someone how they have impacted your life, send a thank you note, or share a sweet sentiment to make someone’s day.
Save your pop can tops
Bless her heart, my grandmother would berate us if we didn’t take the pop can tops off for the countless years we were growing up. I actually didn’t think they still did this anymore but March of Dimes indeed does collect pop (& beer) can tops to purchase mobility items for those in need.
Donate money to the food bank
Did you know that food banks/soup kitchens are most often able to secure up to 4X the amount of food as you are purchasing from the grocery store? Many people will donate what they haven’t used in their cupboards. Canned goods (while still food), often lack the nutritional value a family needs to stay healthy. Consider what you donate. Giving money AND food is a great way to help provide fresh produce to families in need.
Make a friend
Friendship can be a difficult challenge for many kids growing up. Encouraging your kids to be fully aware of what is going on around them, to look out for kids who might be alone and actively seek out people to help or sit with can have an absolutely HUGE impact on another kid.
Listen to a friend
Social media is not your way of keeping in touch with important friends. That is and always will be the highlights of their lives. Check in, visit, and be present. Ask and truly listen to a friend who might need to talk a bit over the holidays.
Give money/Buy extra coffee/sandwiches and deliver them on the street
I have many friends who disagree with the belief in providing money and food to those in need. Yeah. No. No one, not one person, has ever asked for a fate of trying to stay warm out in the freezing cold without a roof over their heads or knowing where their next meal is coming from. No one ever. We have all taken wrong turns in our lives. For some that wrong turn has gone further down a path than others. For others, mental health issues have prevented them from maintaining a job or relationships or even providing the capacity to take care of themselves. You never know anyone else’s story. Find the compassion in your heart to imagine how difficult this must be. Don’t judge. Just give.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen
We have been working with the kids on the concept of “jump to help”. Don’t wait to be told, offer up your help wherever possible. Spread joy & strike up conversations with patrons who are visiting this service. Nothing is more valuable than human connection.
Hold the door open
Such an easy idea can really brighten someone’s day & in turn put them in a mindset to pay it forward as well.
Learn someone’s name
Whether its your barista, server, retail clerk or even the homeless person you meet on the street, dignity is everything. It’s such a simple thing but asking someone their name can often mean the world. It acknowledges them and shows them the respect they deserve.
Pay for someone’s coffee or meal
Next time you are at drive through, consider paying it forward by covering the order behind you. It is such a nice delight and usually starts a chain reaction of kindness.
Offer to help wrap presents
Older neighbours or friends who might feel challenges with arthritis or body pain might find it difficult to wrap gifts. Do it for them while having a visit and a cup of tea.
Hugs are the best. Seriously, if I could just offer free hugs at the mall to everyone (especially those who look Grinchy) I would. Hugs release oxytocin in a squeeze and have massive, awesome medical benefits. Not only does it help lower heart rates and reduce blood pressure, it also decreases stress hormones. Who doesn’t need a hug?
Bake or cook for your neighbours & friends
Sometimes putting time in to bring joy to others is the best kind of kindness you can share. Prepping a meal or providing baked goods to someone having visitors over the holidays is a great way to get your kids involved in considering the value of community.
Offer to take kids
I always say to our friends, more is actually easier. I love the bustle of kids running through the house and it allows us to have quality time with people we care about. Dropping off kids allows our kids to think of ways to entertain and allows our adult friends to go Christmas shopping or have a nice, quiet dinner out without concern of running home while the babysitter meter is ticking.
Fill the school library with books that support important dialogues
As the world is shifting, we still have so much to learn. Gifting a book to the library as part of your holiday plans helps to create dialogue on a number of important issues. Indigenous history & reconciliation, world religions, sexual identity, self-esteem, bullying and building respect are all topics that could use more accessible literature within our schools.
Get social in real life. Encourage kids to say Hi & smile.
Challenge your kids to meet someone new. I think in our over-concern of stranger danger, we have created a lot of nervousness in our kids. We have been focusing instead on being aware of your surroundings and trusting your gut. It is important for our kids to learn how to be social and a smile is one of the best kind of “viral” sensations you can create.
Stop by the fire, police or nurses station with baking or treats
Shift work is killer over the holidays. Many emergency/medical occupations miss out on their own family Christmas to provide care for others. Stopping by with kindness shows kids how we need each other in a community to function & flow. To show our gratitude & appreciation for those who watch over our world.
Clean someone’s driveway/Bring garbage cans up from the street
Especially as it gets colder, helping neighbours who could potentially slip and fall is an easy kindness to do every week. A wonderful task to get your kids involved in and seeing the importance of considering others in your every day.
Wash someone’s windows at the gas station
Its one of our son’s favourite things to do (& as long as he gets permission) he loves washing the windows around the gas station.
Stop by a seniors home
Often times seniors don’t have people coming to visit as much as they would like, need to get to appointments or would like to go to the store but don’t have the mobility to get there. A simple conversation and company can go a long way. A drive to somewhere they need to go could be an absolute dream.
Take a treat in to teacher/mechanic/hairstylist/doctor/dentist/service provider
A nice surprise that says “We appreciate you” will often make the team at any of these places smile.
Donate unexpected items to drop off at shelters
Consider donating products like diapers, new underwear, tampons, pads, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, even toilet paper can be welcome stock to share.
Spread Kindness & Joy
In any way you can.