Last year my niece was hospitalized for having constant migraines. While she was there, she met a little girl who was recovering from an injury. My niece noticed that, for the few days they were both there, the little girl never had any visitors. My niece decided to make her a card and give her all of the balloons and get well gifts she had received during her stay. She asked the nurses to give them to the girl after she left and wasn’t at all concerned with taking any credit for her gifts. This seems to be a small gesture of kindness, but it made me so proud to be her aunt.
I want my kids to truly understand how fortunate that they are and to appreciate all the family, friends, and possessions that they have surrounding them. I try to teach my girls the importance of caring and giving to others. Everyone needs a little help -- or even just a laugh once and awhile. I love watching my kids getting excited to be able to give a gift that came from their heart.
Here are a few things that can help teach our kids the greatness of kindness, from little every-day habits to larger undertakings:
1. Go through your old clothes and toys to donate to a local charity.
2. Get them excited about giving a gift that they can make themselves. Let them brainstorm (with a little help from you), to find a great craft project. Ask them, "What does that person like to do? Do they have any hobbies? What are their favorite colors?" Sometimes kids will come up with crazy answers, but go with it. That is what helps make it special.
3. Volunteer at a local shelter, a humane society, or your favorite charity.
4. Write letters to those who are serving overseas.
5. Get a present for a child or family that is less fortunate. When I was younger, someone dropped a trash bag full of gifts at the home of my best friend, Addy, a few nights before Christmas. Addy’s dad was a single father raising three girls, two of whom weren’t his own. He was a great guy and somebody wanted to show him that. They never figured out who it was, but it was something that inspired me.
6. Throw a party and have everyone bring donations for a canned food drive. Or collect canned goods instead of presents at your next birthday party.
7. You don't have to wait for a holiday or a birthday to show people that you appreciate or care for them. Have your kids do something special for someone, for no particular reason.
8. Have your children write their own Thank You cards. If they are not old enough to write, they can still color a picture and tell you what they’d like to say.