This week’s kindness project was a bit organic as is typical of many of our projects. The girls and I were baking some banana bread at home and decided to make an extra loaf to share with our neighbors. Specifically, there are a couple of neighbors who have had a harder time recently so we decided to share some treats with them to hopefully cheer them up a bit.
While this is a common deed that many neighbors do for each other, I think what was particularly important to me was that my girls take the lead in baking and delivering the treats to our neighbors. My older daughter decided to write a note for one of our neighbors including a picture of herself holding some flowers. We rode our bikes and scooter over and made it a full family affair, with my husband included, to deliver the goodies.
The power of such a simple gesture came afterwards, when one of my neighbors sent us a thoughtful thank you email addressed to my 5-year old. She thanked my daughter for the delicious bread, asking if she made it. She also asked about the picture my daughter drew, wondering whether she drew herself in the picture holding the bouquet of flowers. I had my daughter read the email, which made her smile and then she immediately wanted to write a response back. Her response- typed all by herself- read:
“Yes. That was me with The. Flowers And. The banana. bread was so good. You. Are. So sweet.”
There was one more sweet email exchange between them, which was a wonderful way for my daughter to recognize the positive outcome of her kind act. When I asked my daughter how she felt about our activity she said that she felt happy- happy that our neighbor felt less sad and mentioned again how sweet our neighbor was.
Our #WeeklyKindnessProjects aren’t entirely altruistic. My hope is that together we learn to help people and that compassion becomes a way of life for my girls as they get older. But I also hope my girls gain the benefits derived from becoming kindness “givers.” The research shows that kids who perform kind acts can gain pro-social benefits-including increased well-being and stronger peer connections. This article provides a great synopsis of the “Kindness Counts” research study, in which several hundred 9-11 year old kids- some performing kind acts, and others who just visited nice places.
“When kids performed acts of kindness or took notice of the pleasant places they visited, their happiness quotient increased. But those who performed acts of kindness received an extra boost. The study showed they gained an average of 1.5 friends during the month-long period—good support for the idea that ‘nice guys finish first.’ Like other studies, this research showed that being kind to other people benefits the giver. For children, it nurtures their well-being and increases their positive connections with peers. When children learn to be caring and kind, they also benefit developmentally. Well-liked children display more positive, less bullying behaviors when they become teenagers. Happier kids are more likely to show higher academic achievement. Being kind makes you feel good about yourself and improves your outlook on life.”
And so with that in mind, onward we continue, making sure that my girls have a practice of kindness in their lives, and hopefully we can touch a few people with compassion along the way. #WeeklyKindnessProject