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The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Feb 14, 2015

JenniferFischerIt’s Valentine’s Day, and this past week was International Random Acts of Kindness Week. Plus, Random Acts of Kindness Day is coming up Feb. 17. In short, it’s a good time to focus on spreading love and on treating others with kindness and understanding.

The shootings in Chapel Hill remind me of how important it is to treat others with kindness and to foster love and understanding in our children. So I wanted to share 10 simple acts of kindness that kids can do that cost nothing. Engaging with our children in acts that help our environment, community, or friends and family helps them understand the value of caring for others. It builds character and self-reliance and can be contagious. There’s no better time to start than right now.

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 diligent supervision, of course. This is something anyone and everyone can do.

2. Shovel snow, rake leaves, pull weeds – No matter what the weather or season where you live, a great way to surprise a neighbor and make someone’s day is for a child to help out a neighbor 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.

jheart3. 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 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, which is also today. We’re giving away three new books in honor of this wonderful day.

4. Make the bed – OK, this is simple, but it’s 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 or 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 cards. Today, we’ll be taking the extra Valentine’s Day cards left from the card sets we got for school card exchanges and handing them out at the grocery store. The boys will have so much fun with this one.

7. Donate clothing – I listed this separately from toys and books because, depending on the age of your child, picking out 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 really to think about this as an act of kindness.

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 who lives elsewhere, you can always email the list to the relative. Receiving a list or 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 who is sitting alone in the cafeteria or standing alone outside at recess. Trust me, an act like this can go a very long way.

10. Remember, small things matter – Pick one simple small thing and do it every day for a week: Depending on their age, kids can open or hold the door for someone, let a friend play with their favorite toy, put away stray shopping carts at the grocery store, share their snacks during playgroup or lunch and so much more. Any of these small acts of kindness can make a big difference.

How can you foster kindness as a daily habit for your child and family? I’d love for us to make Random Acts of Kindness Week (and Day) obsolete by creating a world with so much kindness that we no longer need to set aside a special time of year to highlight kindness.

 

 

Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

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