Random Acts of Kindness

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Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness for Kids – 25 Ideas for Raising Grateful and Kind Kids

Spider Man changing out of his costume after saving our dinner.

When he was 4-years-old our son Jack loved to play superheroes.

One day we were playing, and he was dressed in his Spider Man outfit—a full body suit complete with muscles and mask. I was Batman wearing a cape and kid’s costume.

The dastardly situation I told Spider Man we were facing was that bad guys were trying to take our dinner…

Jack: “Don’t worry Daddy, I know what to do.”

[Jack ran to the kitchen, got a spatula and went in the corner.]

Me: “Jack, what are you doing?”

Jack: “I’m making pancakes for them. If they’re trying to take our dinner, they must be hungry.”

What awesome perspective. I was thinking we’d capture the bad guys or even put them in jail.

Thankfully, I didn’t blurt out anything that would have changed Jack’s view of the situation.

We won’t be able to preserve Jack’s innocence forever, but he absorbs so much of what we say and do, that we have an opportunity to purposefully do things that we hope will help mold Jack into a caring and compassionate person.

With that in mind, my wife and I have often thought about how to make sure our son is grateful, kind and compassionate. We have no idea what we’re doing, but here are some ideas and related thoughts. Half are new and half I’ve posted here before…

    Things we’re trying

  1. Help develop your child’s identity as a caring person. Rather than telling your child “That was a kind thing to do,” say, “You’re such a kind person.”

  2. Model the behavior you’d like to see. No matter how much we talk about being kind or the right way to act, kids learn by watching the little things we actually do.

  3. Listen. It’s easy for us to tell our kids they should listen, and then cut them off when they’re too chatty. If we want our kids to be great listeners, make sure we’re great listeners.

  4. Use kind words and a kind tone – I try hard to be aware of when I’m frustrated and then pause before speaking. That has reduced the likelihood that I’ll use a tone of voice that I wouldn’t want our son to use. Once I started focusing on this, I became much better and our son did too.

  5. Emphasize the importance of being kind. We regularly talked to our son about the importance of trying to do something (grit) and the importance of being happy. Just as important is to regularly talk about being kind.

  6. At dinner we discuss acts of kindness that each of us saw during the day. As we’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed that our son has begun doing many of the things we mention in conversation.

  7. Practice gratitude. Grateful kids (and adults) are more likely to be kind and happy. Talking about what you’re thankful for can be a daily ritual at dinner, bedtime or in a journal. A fantastic thing about gratitude is that scientific research shows that something as simple as keeping a gratitude journal for a couple minutes a day increases happiness.

  8. Do something about your gratitude. At Ronald McDonald Camp we did Warm and Fuzzies. These were short notes of appreciate we’d write to others at the camp. Why not have our kids write a quick, spontaneous note anytime someone does something nice?

  9. I’d also like our son to participate in writing at least one planned thank you note a week.

    Your child can play a role in choosing recipients. We’re planning to make sure we include the people who are often taken for granted — the bus driver, mail carrier, trash collector, cleaning person (if you have one) and others. This helps ensure that our child realizes and appreciates what everyone does for him.

    Include a picture and your note will be a huge hit.

  10. My friend Tony and his daughter Maya were driving through the city and passed a homeless person. Maya asked, “Why is that man standing on the corner with a sign?” Tony responded that the man was homeless and asking for food. Maya asked, “Why don’t we get him food?” That made Tony wonder, “Why didn’t they?”

    Tony was embarrassed that it took his daughter to help him realize how he had been overlooking the homeless (probably from spending so much time in the city).

    Tony’s lack of attention could have sent a message to his daughter. Fortunately, she brought him back to the humanity of the situation, so they could provide some food and Tony could set the example he wanted to set.

    This changed my thinking as well. I try to carry around some extra food to give to homeless people we see around the city. First and foremost, it must be awful to be homeless and I’m sure the food goes a long way. It also sets an example for our son–that we shouldn’t ignore people in need.

    I’ve heard of other families making food or toiletry care packages for the homeless and even including nice notes from the kids, which I’m sure brightens someone’s day.

    Everyone matters, and we want our kids to know that.

  11. During the holidays my cousin takes her children to a store to pick out and buy a gift for a child who might not get many gifts. This year, instead of getting 8 gifts for Hanukkah, her kids got 7 and the 8th gift was one they picked out for someone else. Toys for Tots is a great recipient of these random acts of kindness.

    My wife found an opportunity for us to get a gift for a child staying at a local hospital. We knew the kid’s age and interests, so we could go to the store with our son and let Jack think about and pick out a gift that the specific child would enjoy.

  12. We’ve been talking to our son about how he is lucky to have so many toys and that many kids aren’t as lucky. We are working with him to choose toys to give to kids who are less fortunate. I say “working with him,” because he agreed he should share some toys but only offered the two small broken toys that he never uses.

    (By the way if you’re interested in donating stuff, you can check out this guide of where to donate your stuff.)

  13. Find a chance to help neighbors with projects – shoveling snow, raking leaves, etc.

  14. Have your kid say “hi” to everyone. We told our son that people smile and feel good when he says “hello.” Now he is always saying hello to people on the street and people love it. Even people in a bad mood smile when he says “hello.”

  15. Every night at bedtime we talk about what we’re thankful for and our favorite parts of the day.

  16. Participate in service with your kids. We’ve packed and delivered food to people who needed it, which our son loved.

  17. Give stuff away. At Halloween our son loved giving out candy. Jack even chased down adults clearly returning from work to give them candy. Even the people who seemed to be in a bad mood smiled. And, Jack learned the joy of giving. Set up a free lemonade stand or find something else to give out. Practice giving.

  18. Things we think are worth trying (but haven’t yet)

  19. Special Treat Friday — every Friday you and your kids could “cook” something you can give to someone else…a fun activity with a focus on giving.

  20. I read about a teacher who got her first graders involved in random acts of kindness by having her class collectively perform 100 acts of kindness over a 2-week period. The class recorded each act on a small heart and organized the hearts into a collage. Perhaps you can do this at home as a way to get your kids excited about and discussing acts of kindness.

  21. Make Cards. Valentine’s or holiday cards for seniors. Cards or baskets to take to police or fire stations. Get well cards for hospitals.

  22. I mentioned to our friend John that I was concerned with how many toys our son has. As part of a large, loving family, Jack gets lots of toys. Even when we ask people not to bring presents to Jack’s birthday parties, people bring gifts (by the way, I completely understand this).

    John said he used to tell his children’s friends to bring a gift to be donated to a hospital. This allows people to still bring gifts, and your child’s birthday becomes an opportunity to help others.

    There’s also an opportunity to engage your children in this activity. Choose the nonprofit together. Then, if you can, bring the gifts to the nonprofit. We plan to go to Cradles to Crayons with Jack one day so Jack can see the gifts get packaged up for kids who need them.

  23. Let your kids tell you what they love about someone and decorate a box or bag and put notes with your kids’ thoughts inside the box/bag. Then make someone’s day with the gift. We just made one of these boxes at a party for one of our son’s friends.

    Along these lines, you and your child can create a “What I love about you” book for someone.

    Here’s another cool craft of appreciation. This one from Tutus and Tea Parties.


  24. I saw a neat project, where kids created decorations for cans at a hunger pantry. What a great way to make someone smile. (From Curly Birds blog.)


  25. Teacher Helen Mrosla had a great kindness idea for the classroom and our families.

    Give each member of your family, team, class or group a piece of paper with the name of every group member on the piece of paper. Tell each group member to “write what you appreciated about each fellow group member next to the person’s name” (or you can give out notecards and instruct everyone to “write what you appreciate about each group member on a separate notecard”). The leader collects all of the sheets/cards.

    All of the comments are organized so each person gets a page (or the cards) with all of the positive comments about them.

    Helen discovered that her students cherished these sheets so much that the students kept them and still talked about them a decade later. The parents of one student told Helen that their son took the paper with him when he was deployed and kept it with him the entire time.

    People don’t hear how special they are often enough. This act of kindness exercise is a simple way to appreciate others in a lasting and touching way.

  26. Anna at The Imagination Tree has made an awesome modification to Elf on the Shelf. Her elves are in the house to spread holiday spirit. Every day the kids can find the elves in a different place with suggestions on things they can do that day to be in the holiday spirit.

    Imagination Tree

What would you add to this list of acts of kindness for kids?

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If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll also like these two:

102 Random Acts of Kindness that will make you an everyday hero.

Be Happy: 46 Proven Techniques to Improve Your Happiness and One Way to Get More Sex.

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  1. […] If you enjoyed this, you might like this article with 25 ideas for raising kind and grateful kids. […]

  2. […] your kids in community service. Random Acts of Kindness for Kids––24 ideas for raising grateful and kind […]

  3. […] in many of the other ideas listed earlier in this post. If you’re interested, here’s a link to Random Acts of Kindness for Kids–24 ideas for raising grateful and kind […]

  4. […] are many more ideas and you can read them at http://www.bradaronson.com/random-acts-of-kindness/. The ones I listed are a great start, but I didn’t want to overwhelm […]

  5. […] love the messages that come out of this post. The superhero who made the bad guys dinner because they were stealing food (and therefore must be […]

  6. […] In the spirit of giving here are 84 Random Acts of Kindness that you can perform to help others and 24 ideas for raising kind and grateful kids. […]

  7. Dr. Robyn Silverman says:

    My children have every birthday guest, in lieu of gifts, bring something for a specific charity. For example, my daughter had everyone bring a toy off a gift list for the local hospital last year and is having everyone bring Pajamas and books for needy children or children who have yet to be adopted this year. My son had everyone bring a teddy bear for the local charity CASA that gives bears to children who have been taken out of unhealthy homes and who are currently in foster care. It’s a wonderful way to get many children on board with helping– and in fact, we were so thrilled to see that many children have followed their lead after seeing my son and daughter donate instead of collect on their birthdays! I know it’s not for everyone– but it’s the way we do it in our family.

  8. Liz says:

    Ask birthday party guests to bring items to be donated to an animal shelter rather than gifts. Then deliver them to the shelter.

  9. myrhh says:

    I really enjoyed reading this and hope to pass along some of the tips to friends! And it was interesting for me to read the comments below about leaving comments – I often really appreciate something in a blog but didn’t really appreciate how much a comment can mean – but OF COURSE it can – and in the past I didn’t bother to figure out how to sign up to say so – but the commenter has made me realize how you can make someone’s day just by doing that. So, as of right now I am signed up to Disqus to be able to say all this! 🙂

  10. This is fabulous, Brad! We love promoting intentional acts of kindness (along with family volunteering), and you’ve inspired US with a host of great ideas. Keep up the great work!

  11. […] For more ideas for kids, checkout this website: Random Act of Kindness for Kids. […]

  12. […] Random Acts of Kindness for Kids – 17 Ideas for Raising Grateful and Kind Kids. […]

  13. […] Random Acts of Kindness for Kids. This has 17 ideas for raising grateful and kind kids. […]

  14. […] For ideas for raising generous and grateful kids, see 17 Random Acts of Kindness for Kids. […]

  15. […] here are over 60 easy, meaningful ways to help someone with acts of kindness, and here are 17 random acts of kindness for kids–ideas for raising grateful and kind […]

  16. Joan says:

    Love it

  17. Meg Evans says:

    I’m glad of it, Brad! When I write, I always feel much more energetic and productive if I’m getting regular feedback and actively participating in a community. We all enjoy having our work appreciated!

  18. Meg Evans says:

    What a great little guy Jack is, and such a quick thinker! Making pancakes for the “bad guys” is a sensible plan to save the family’s dinner, as well as being compassionate. This post left me smiling and gave me fond memories of raising my own kids, who are now grown. Thanks for sharing it, Brad, and for all the effort you’ve put into creating this inspirational blog. I am sure many people will find your suggestions helpful.

    I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to visit and comment on positive blogs every day for a full year, and I picked yours as the first. I wish you and your family a very happy year in 2014!

    • Hi Meg, Thanks for the feedback. It made my night. I think you have a great New Year’s resolution. I’m going to try to follow your lead (at least partially) and make more comments on blogs I read. If I appreciate something, I’m going to let people know. Have a great 2014!

  19. Chelsea says:

    What an awesome list, and great stories, thank you so much for sharing kindness in the world.

  20. […] I found a great link filled with awesome ideas so that you can make this year your “Giving Year”,  and then pass the ideas along to get others involved. Read more at Brad Aronson’s Blog […]

  21. Kat says:

    I loved reading this – such great ideas! I’m bookmarking it to go back to when our little boy is a couple of years older. Thank you for the lovely ideas. 🙂

  22. […] of the other ideas listed earlier in this post. If you’re interested, here’s a link to Random Acts of Kindness for Kids–17 ideas for raising grateful and kind […]

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