It began when our oldest daughter was in third grade. She got into the car after school one day, and she immediately began crying. Before she said a word, I could already feel the anger settling in.
I could feel my ears turning red and my rage bubbling. Someone made my baby cry, and I was livid. I didn’t even know what happened at that point, but I was furious.
It turns out another little girl in my daughter’s class stole her lunch, and my sweet girl spent the rest of the day hungry because of it. She didn’t tell her teacher – who absolutely would have rectified the situation – because she didn’t want the other little girl in trouble.
In true ‘me’ fashion, I told my daughter that some people aren’t taught how to behave properly and that she probably has a terrible home life and poor role models.
Because I don’t see reason when it comes to people wronging my children (classy and mature, I know). When we got home and she told my husband about it, he did the thing that makes me love him more than anyone in the world.
He hugged our daughter and told her he’d pack her extra food in her lunchbox from now on just in case that other little girl was hungry and not getting enough eat. Here I am calling her family trash and assuming they’re horrible people, and my kind husband is essentially packing a second lunch for our daughter so another little girl doesn’t go hungry.
My husband is the epitome of kind. It’s in his very core. He’s generous and patient, and our children are kind because he leads by example. And now you know that their occasional a**hole behavior is from me and my poor example. In all seriousness, we try hard to teach our kids that being kind is never something they’ll regret.
Leading By Example and Being a Kind Person Can Change the World
The moral of the story is that my husband led with kindness. He set the example for our daughter that rather than judging another person, you look at the situation and you help (which is the literal and exact opposite of how I handled the situation…and usually is).
He taught her several lessons in one. To be kind, to help, and to get to the root of the problem. He spent the rest of her third grade year packing her enough extra food to feed this little girl a good lunch each day, and he led with kindness. My husband always does the good and noble thing.
Now is where I add that the additional moral of the story is that I was right. The little girl came from an unfortunate home with unfortunate parents, and no one taught her better. She bullied other kids, treated everyone poorly, and she learned that from her parents. She wasn’t hungry – she brought her own full lunchbox and just liked to steal from other kids because she was a little s***.
While my husband taught the patient, valuable lesson, I would like to point out that I wasn’t wrong about the situation (but sometimes being right isn’t the point). Being kind is the point. In one fell swoop, my husband led our daughter away from my way of thinking (people suck and I hate them all) to a kinder, lovelier way of thinking – how can I help? She’s a freshman in high school now, and she is a kind, generous, lovely young woman (not because of me).
Being Kind is Always A Good Choice
There is never a situation in which being kind is wrong. You will never feel bad about being a kind person, even when the person you are dealing with is unkind. Being kind is classy, elegant and it always leaves you feeling as if you are the bigger person. There are ways every day to be kind to others, but it is often the simplest, most random acts of kindness that have the biggest impact.
Charles Glassman once said that kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle. I don’t know who Charles Glassman is – I saw this on Pinterest. But he is correct. Everyone struggles, but not everyone’s struggles are the same. Some are obvious. Others are not obvious. Many people hide their struggles well, and others are so overwhelmed by theirs that the entire world can see it. The point is that we all struggle.
Not one of us has any idea what the person standing next to us is going through, which is why being kind is a good choice. That simple, random act of kindness might end up being the thing that changes their life for the better. It might be the thing that turns their day around. It might even be the thing that saves their life. You may never know if being kind to someone impacts them in any way, but you’ll never wonder if you might be the cause of someone’s discomfort or unhappiness, and that means something.
The Impact You Have On Others
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this quote I found on Pinterest resonated. Nikki Banas said, “You never really know the true impact you have on those around you. You never know how much someone needed that smile you gave them and you never know how much your kindness turned someone’s entire life around.
You never know how much someone needed that long hug or deep talk. So don’t wait to be kind. Don’t wait for someone else to be kind first. Don’t wait for better circumstances or for someone to change. Just be kind because you never know how much someone needs it.”
Impact. What kind of impact do you want to have on your children? Do you want to be like me? Filled with road rage, the inability to see the good in other people, and a lack of patience for the entire world? Or do you want to be like my husband? Kind, generous, and always setting the best example.
The impact you have on your children is like the impact hands have on a pottery wheel. How a potter moves their hands on their clay as it spins is what molds it into shape, forms it, and what brings it to life. The same goes for your children. Now, it’s time to lead by example and teach your kids some of the most wonderful ways to provide random acts of kindness.
Random Acts of Kindness that Leave the World a Better Place
1. Pick up litter
2. Help an elderly neighbor or family member with yard work
3. Plant trees and flowers
4. Volunteer to help coach a young child’s sports team
5. Offer to help neighbors clean up after a storm
Leaving the world a slightly better place than you found it is always a good idea. As a Floridian, we have a lot of storms come through that leave a mess behind, and it’s always wonderful to see the kids in our neighborhood out helping the elderly neighbors.
Cleaning up the limbs and branches that fall, helping to move patio furniture onto pool decks, etc. These are all heartwarming and kind acts, and each one is easily performed by kids of virtually any age. Even our 8-year-old twins like to get out and help clear branches and limbs, garden, and pick up litter when they see it.
Random Acts of Kindness Anyone Can Do At Any Time
1. Smile at people
2. Compliment people when you mean it
3. Tell someone something you admire about them
4. Help an elderly person or busy mom load groceries into their vehicle
5. Offer to return someone’s cart to the cart return at the supermarket
It costs nothing to be kind. That’s another one of my favorite Pinterest quotes that I imagine you’re over hearing. Kids can do anything on this list because it’s free, it’s easy, and they do it anywhere.
Smaller children may not be able to help someone load their car with groceries, but they can help return other people’s carts and smile. They’re also good at complimenting people.
Random Acts of Kindness that Require Giving a Little Time
1. Volunteer at a food bank
2. Start a food drive during the holidays
3. Collect gifts for a good cause during Christmas
4. Ask friends and family to donate to your favorite local charity rather than give you gifts for your birthday or Christmas
5. Clean out your closet and donate to a shelter
These are not the most child-friendly random acts of kindness for small kids, but you can get your older kids involved in most of these things.
Unfortunately, they might not be willing to forgo their gifts when they’re still young, but no one said you have to all the things on the list. In all honestly, we have great kids, but there is not one of the four of them who would willingly give up their gifts on Christmas or their birthdays. They’re not that selfless.
On that note, our kids love picking cards off the angel tree at Christmas to shop for other children. They each like to choose someone their own age and gender, and they have the best time shopping for them.
They spend copious amounts of time (and money) ensuring that these children are getting what they need and what they want, and they really love to help.
Random Acts of Kindness at School
1. Sit with a lonely child at lunch
2. Befriend the new kids
3. Offer to help another student with something they don’t understand
4. Work the concession stand at sporting events
5. Help clean up the classroom after projects (without being asked)
You may need tissues for this story. I apologize in advance, but this is one of those ‘you don’t know what struggles people have,’ stories, and tissues are necessary.
When our middle daughter – whose story I will not share because it is hers and she’s not ready to share with the world – was in her earlier years of elementary school, she struggled. Her grades were horrible, she cried all the time, she could not focus, and everything was difficult for her.
School was not her happy place. Homework meant hours of crying, fighting, and practicing every ounce of patience we could summon, and things were just bad.
Fast forward two years and she is a sixth grade middle schooler. She makes straight A’s, and she loves school. She’s more confident, more capable, and things are so much easier for her now than they ever were.
We don’t have tears, and she’s a new child. She recently brought home a positive referral (actually, she brought home two of them in the same week for virtually the same thing) from teachers. They gave her the positive referrals because she’s so good in class and always willing to volunteer to help others who are struggling with their work.
We told her we were so proud of her, and she shrugged and said, “I remember when I didn’t understand anything and everything was hard, and how I felt when someone helped me understand, and I want to do the same thing for other kids.” Her kindness radiates. She’s our most savage little one.
She’s impatient, unimpressed, and she cares very little for people and their shenanigans, but she’s quietly kind and helpful. However, she remembers the impact her classmates had on her when she was struggling, and they probably have no idea just what that meant to her or the example it set for her.
You can also read:
- 20 Ways to Build Lifelong Confidence in Kids
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- Should You Send Your Kid to Sleepaway Camp?
- 20 Tips for Mothers of Teenagers to Stay Calm