By Elizabeth Gelfeld
Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and chances are you’re happy to be done with the heart crafts, “Be Mine” candies and pink cupcakes. But there’s one aspect of V-Day that deserves extended time, and there’s an organization to help.
Today is Day 3 of Random Acts of Kindness Week, Feb. 14-20. Sponsored each year by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, this is a week to pay some extra attention to treating people—our neighbors, colleagues, service providers, spouses, children, even ourselves—with kindness.
PEP Leader Robbye Fox shares a story of of being surprised by kindness.
“It was just before the holidays and I was at the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru buying a large coffee as I headed to PEP for our weekly Thriving with Teens class. When I pulled up to the window to pay for it, I was handed an index card explaining that my order had been paid for by the customer in line in front of me and that I was encouraged to “pay it forward” and perform a similar random act of kindness for someone else. Had I been thinking, I would have immediately offered to pay for the person in line behind me, but I was completely blown away by the gesture and drove off with the card in hand. I did pay it forward a few days later.”
Want your kids to be happier? Stop simply making them receivers of your kindness, and instead give them opportunities to practice kindness themselves. A study reported in Psychology Today had several hundred 9- to 11-year-olds perform and record three acts per week of kindness toward anyone they wished, while another several hundred kids recorded three pleasant places they visited in a week.
Both groups reported significantly increased feelings of happiness and well-being. However, the children who did kind things for others experienced another benefit. The researchers measured how well the children were liked by their peers, and the acts-of-kindness group made an average of 1.5 new friends over the four weeks of the study.
Maybe the kindest thing we can do for our kids this week (or anytime) is to give them some encouragement and guidance for committing random acts of kindness. Here are 50 ideas to get started.
Share the kindness: tell us about your family’s random acts in the Comments area below.
Elizabeth Gelfeld is a PEP Parent Educator and editor of the PEP Blog.