I have a dear friend, Rachel, who is the kindest, friendliest soul I’ve ever known. Friends describe her as sunshine, and appropriately, she loves sunflowers, which are almost as bright and beautiful as her kind heart.
Rachel recently got engaged, and at her engagement party, I was asked what part of Rachel’s personality I looked forward to seeing her pass on to her future children. Without a second thought, I said her heart for others. She cares for people in a way that is so rare today and I can’t wait for her and her fiancé to have kids because we need more kind people like Rachel in the world.
As I thought about my own young son and how I want him to grow up to be a gentleman who is kind to everyone he meets, I made a resolution to find ways to be more like Rachel, to show kindness to others daily. I want to be a good example for my son and teach him to care for others.
Here are five ideas I’ve come up with that are easy ways for parents to teach their children to be good neighbors through simple acts of kindness:
Share your baked goods. Any time you’re baking with your kids at home, double your recipe. Take half of the treats and have your children give them away – to friends, neighbors, your local fire station, etc.
Send handwritten cards to friends and loved ones. With email and social media at the center of our lives today, few people still take the time to mail handwritten notes to people they’re thinking of, or people who are going through difficult times. Have your children turn their artwork into greeting cards to show them how a simple gesture can really brighten someone’s day.
Hold doors for strangers. As we hurry through our lives, we tend to forget about this simple courtesy. It only takes a second to show someone that they’re worth a moment of your time.
Encourage your kids to donate some of their toys to children in need. This is a great thing to do to participate in holiday toy drives for organizations like Metropolitan Ministries, Toys for Tots and Samaritan’s Purse. Bring your children with you to the place where you’re making the donation so they can see their gifts in action.
Visit an elderly neighbor. Even better, dedicate an hour each week to deliver Meals on Wheels with your kids. Meals on Wheels of Tampa volunteers deliver meals to the homebound, disabled and elderly in the Tampa community. In addition to enjoying hot meals that nourish their bodies, the recipients appreciate a smiling face to brighten their often lonely days. And the smiling face of a child can really help lift their spirits.
With flexibility in what routes you can take, where you pick up meals and how often you deliver, volunteering with Meals on Wheels can fit into busy families’ schedules. The organization is in great need of volunteers with a number of routes open every week, so I know my son and I will put our time to good use by driving a route in Lutz when we can.
Want more ideas for volunteering as a family? Check out VolunteerMatch.org to find local volunteer opportunities that fit your family’s interests.
How will your family make showing kindness part of your routine this year?
Go out and spread some sunshine! Because #KindnessMatters.