What comes to mind when you think of strength?
Do you imagine feats of physical strength and bulging muscles? Maybe perseverance through adversity? Perhaps one of those stories of a mother lifting up a way-too-heavy object to save her pinned kid? (PS my sister-in-law has done that, so that actually does come to my mind)
Do you think of kindness?
Kindness has several parts of its definition, but my favorite is that a kind person demonstrates considerate behavior. They show an awareness and regard for another person’s situation. Doesn’t say they agree with them, but they are aware of another’s situation.
Of the many things 2020 has/is teaching us, I’m learning that kindness is a dang strength. One that we probably all need to work on, right? Social unrest, economic recession, public health crisis, and an already drama-filled election year…you probably have had a couple (or a lot) of missed chances to be kind. I know I have.
It’s easy to get mad and be a jerk, and a lot harder to be kind. It takes a lot of strength to practice kindness, especially lately. But this isn’t out of reach for anyone. We can all become more kind.
And don’t we want that for our kids? I know I want my girls to be the kind kids. The includers. The friends. Kind with backbones is what I’m aiming for.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. I hope you’ve stopped to read the many posts people have been sharing. Suicide is devastating for all affected. I felt strongly that this month I should share activities and resources related to kindness. It won’t always stop someone from suicide, but it can make a huge difference for many.
So right now, as the world is desperately craving some kindness and empathy, let’s practice with our daughters. Most are pretty easy, some may not be, but I guess that’s why the phrase is “Have courage and be kind!” (PS, make sure to check out some ideas on practicing courage together!) Here are some ideas for kind things to do with your girls that will help you consider others.
Kindness to Self
Being kind to ourselves is crucial, so this post wouldn’t be complete without including a couple ways for you and your daughter to be kind to yourselves.
Words of Affirmation
I can’t emphasize enough how powerful words of affirmation can be! We’ve done them off and on with our girls the last couple of years and it is so fun to hear them tell themselves, “I am strong! I am brave! I am loved! I am enough!” Once, after my daughter did the hard monkey bars, she was so thrilled and yelled, “I never give up!” It was one of my proudest moments. If you need some ideas, check out this post, and write down some affirming statements and say them together every day!
3 things you like about yourself
A therapist I know has kids tell her three things they like about themselves before they leave her office. I love this! It’s such a simple thing, but makes a big impact. Pick a time every day for you to do this together, like right before they leave for school or before bed. It’s eye-opening to hear what people love about themselves, so let’s give her the opportunity to show some self-kindness!
Kindness to Others
There are endless ways to be kind and show empathy to others. Here are some fun ways you and your daughter can spread some sunshine for others!
Write thank you notes
Teachers, family members, neighbors–there are tons of people in your life who deserve a thank-you! Buy or make a few thank-you cards, write some thoughtful thank-you’s, and deliver them. Everyone loves to feel appreciated.
Sticky Note Surprises
Have you realized how fun sticky notes can be? When I was a missionary, if we’d pass by the car of someone we knew, we’d slap a sticky note on their window or mirror saying hi, reference an inside joke, or draw a goofy picture. Ten years later, some of those people I’m in contact with still talk about those notes and how much they made their day. They’re just fun, happy little notes that don’t need to be as thought-out as a thank-you note. Buy some fun-shaped sticky notes and leave some happy notes for people.
Find a more formal service opportunity in your community with Just Serve. There are one-time events and opportunities for continued service according to your availability. This is available in many areas, so pop in your zip code and see who needs help in your community!
Random Acts of Kindness
Have yourself and your daughters look for opportunities to do random acts of kindness throughout the day. Then make it a point to share those acts every day, maybe at dinnertime or before bed. RAKs are not intended to be big things, so talk to your daughter about what RAKs could look like, whether a smile to a kid in the hall at school, a smile to someone in the grocery store, or inviting someone on the playground to play.
Pick flowers for someone
My daughters think every flower is beautiful, even the weeds. Just about every hike we go on results in a bouquet of sorts, and they love giving them to people. Find a place to pick or buy some flowers to give to someone together.
Visit an older relative or neighbor
To me, this is one of the most important activities on this list. I have a lot of strong feelings for how we should treat the older population, and they need our kindness so much. Especially during covid, when many are feeling so isolated. You can do it however is most comfortable, whether that’s in-person, outside socially distanced, or virtual for those who are unable to have in-person visitors. If there’s not a pandemic when you read this, do what you can to visit someone in-person.
These are so fun to come across! This is such an easy way to spread a little sunshine and kindness. Who doesn’t want to see a “You can do it!’ on their jog or if they’re out on a walk trying to calm down a crying kid? We don’t have to see the recipients of our kindness in order to be kind!
Donate to a Cause
Depending on the age of your child, opportunities to earn money may be hard, so help them out! Have her pick a charity or cause she’d like to raise money for, and then give her some chores to earn that money. Don’t forget to help her out with the chores and talk about how the money will help those she’s donating to.
Make and take a treat to someone
Everyone loves homemade food! It doesn’t have to be a sugar bomb treat, it could be a loaf of bread, some fresh herbs if you grow them, etc. We love taking people excess basil and mint from our garden, people are so pleasantly surprised. Kids love helping in the kitchen (and ripping leaves off plants), so there’s an extra level of fun to your kindness!
With Operation Gratitude, you can write physical or digital letters, or create handmade items for active military members, the National Guard, veterans, first responders, and Covid healthcare workers on the frontlines. This is such a great opportunity to show kindness to those who put their lives at risk to help their fellow-citizens! Especially since we don’t always see them in action, this is a great way to show them appreciation.
Take dinner to someone
Both times I’ve had babies, people from church dropped off dinner for us for several days after we got home and that has been so appreciated. I’ve also had people drop off dinner for us “just because” and those were equally as appreciated! We don’t need a special reason to bring someone dinner, it’s always a relief to not have to worry about what to make! Pick a person or family and make/buy them dinner that you can drop off. It definitely doesn’t have to be fancy!
When out running errands, make a goal for how many doors you can open for people. This is one of the easiest ways we can be kind to someone else. You’ll be surprised how many times someone needs a hand with a door! And even if they don’t have their hands full, it’s a basic kind thing to do for someone.
Do QPR training together
QPR is similar to CPR, but is a suicide prevention response for those in crisis. I’ve been able to do it twice in the last couple years and feel more confident in knowing what to do if sometimes tells me or I suspect someone is contemplating suicide. Being prepared to help someone in crisis is an incredible kindness, and one that we can teach our daughters when they’re old enough.
However you decide to practice kindness, I hope you have fun together! Follow my Kindness board on Pinterest for more ideas I find around the internet. If you share on social media, don’t forget to tag me @matildaandjo or #aspiringtogether!