I am excited to be participating in Toddler Approved's 100 Acts of Kindness Project, which kicked off yesterday and runs through Valentine's Day. Coffee Cups and Crayons, a blog I love that often focuses on kindness and giving, got things started with the Kindness Challenge for Week 1: Love the Environment, which couldn't be more perfect for our post since we have some environmentally-friendly ideas on our list too. Everything on our list is an act that may take some time and effort, but does not take any money.
1. Pick Up Trash - Kids can do this at the park or perhaps at an empty lot in your neighborhood or even along the side of a not-too-busy road with very diligent supervision, of course. This is something anyone/everyone can do. (Wild Thing picked up trash at a community event when he had just turned 2!)
2. Shovel Snow/Rake Leaves/Weed - No matter what the weather/season where you live, a great way to surprise a neighbor and make someone's day would be for a child to help a neighbor out by doing any of these things - whichever they need. This would be an especially kind thing to do for an elderly or ill neighbor who could truly use the help.
3. Select Toys or Books to Donate - Encourage your child to select some toys or books (or both) to donate to your local thrift store or (in the case of books) public library. This also helps the environment since it encourages reuse and reduces waste. It would be a great way to encourage your family's involvement with International Book Giving Day coming up on February 14th.
4, Make the Bed - Okay, so this is simple, but is still kind. One sibling can make the bed for the other or do a household chore for someone else. Trust me, this act of kindness will not go unnoticed or unappreciated!
5. Play a Game! (Seriously!) When I ran an after-school program, our students loved playing FreeRice.com games during their computer lab time. These educational games lead to donations of rice to people in need. Everyone will love this act of kindness.
6. Make a Card for a friend, family member or even a simple card that says Have a Nice Day to give to a stranger or the cashier at the grocery store. This does not have to cost anything - encourage kids to get creative and use art supplies you already have as they create their card(s).
7. Donate Clothing - I listed this separately from toys and books because, depending on the age of your child, picking clothes to give can be a very big deal. For younger kids, donating clothing may not even register, but for older kids it can be pretty major to select clothes to donate and can be a real opportunity for pre-teens and teens to really think about this as an act of kindness. Teens for Jeans is a really cool example of this - it is a DoSomething.org campaign that encourages teenagers to donate their jeans at their local Aeropastle store from Jan. 14th-Feb. 10th. The jeans are given to homeless teenagers for whom a pair of jeans can make a real difference. (Plus, another act that is kind to the environment as well - reduce, reuse, recycle).
8. Make a List - Have your child make a list of all of the things they love about a family member. You can write the list for them (depending on their age) or they can write it themselves. Of course, you can give it to the family member or (if it is a grandparent or cousin that lives elsewhere) you can always email the list to the relative. Receiving a list/email like this can really make someone's day.
9. Be a Friend/Reach Out - Encourage your child to reach out to a child at school that is sitting alone in the cafeteria or standing alone outside at recess. This amazing and powerful post from Lasso the Moon speaks to the importance of teaching our children active empathy and empowering them to be kind and understanding in such a way that they may actual transform another. Parents, you really must read the post! Also, this is one for us adults too - if you pass somebody who looks like they could use a kind word, say one. :)
10. Remember, small things matter - Pick one simple small thing and do it everyday for a week: Kids (depending on their age) can open/hold the door for someone, let a friend play with their favorite toy, put away stray shopping carts at the grocery store (depending on their age of course), share their snacks during playgroup or lunch and so much more - any of these small acts of kindness can make a big difference!
What small acts of kindness do you catch your child doing? Is kindness part of your daily habit?
Visit Toddler Approved for complete details about the 100 Acts of Kindness Project and the rest of the weekly challenges, and please, join us and keep the kindness kicking! Thanks!
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