I am often urging my children to be more kind. But what does that really mean?
With teenagers, it’s a way to help them find compassion for inconsistent friends or strict teachers who may be facing their own struggles. For my 8-year-old, it’s a way to teach her what it means to be kind, not just to others, but to herself as well.
It’s not always easy to keep kindness in mind when challenges like homework, job deadlines, a sassy third grader or the news of the world trigger frustration or stress. Glowing like a warm light to remind us of the good, World Kindness Day arrives each year on November 13. While it might seem odd to have a single day dedicated to kindness, taking 24 hours to highlight how we treat others, the world and even ourselves is a wonderful way to bring mindfulness to the practice of kindness.
That said, the ultimate goal of World Kindness Day is to make acts of kindness the norm every day. Here are a few ways you can infuse kindness into your routine throughout the month of November and all year:
Hang Out With Mister Rogers
Is there any better way to celebrate kindness than to honor Fred Rogers? Watch an episode of Mister Rogers Neighborhood with your little and you’re bound to witness several acts of kindness and compassion throughout the 30 or so minutes. Keep the kindness going and catch the film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers.
Paint Kindness Rocks
You’ve probably spied a painted rock or two in your neighborhood or local school yard. No doubt they’re inspired by The Kindness Rocks Project. The idea is simple: gather a few flat rocks, paint them, write a kind, uplifting message, then place the rocks back out in the community. Those who need a pick-me-up are welcome to take the rock with them and are hopefully inspired to create and leave another in its place.
Create a Kindness Calendar
Google “Kindness Calendar” and you’ll find a vast array of pre-printed calendars listing an act of kindness for you to do each day. These are wonderful for inspiration, but I’ve found the best way to engage my kids in a project like this is to brainstorm with them. That way, they’re fully invested and feel distinct ownership over each act. In my house, activities range from “put away my sister’s shoes for her” to “scratch the dog’s belly” to “bake gingerbread for the neighbors.” Beach Living offers a wonderful list of kind acts to get you started. Your calendar can cover a year, a month or a week or two. Whatever feels meaningful and doable for your family.
Send Loving-Kindness Buddy Wishes
This simple meditation practice is a wonderful way to make thinking about others with loving-kindness concrete for elementary school children. It also helps them move beyond thinking just about themselves (totally normal behavior for this age group) towards considering the well-being of others.
Read Books About Kindness
This month in Five Books About…you’ll find wonderful a list of recommended books about kindness for children in kindergarten through 5th grades. Snuggling down with a good read is a great way to connect with your kiddos and talk about what kindness means to them.