Despite February being the shortest month of the year, it’s filled with wonderful holidays. We celebrate Heart Healthy Month, Black History Month, Presidents’ Day, Groundhog Day, International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and of course, Valentine’s Day. There are lesser-known holidays such as Tortellini Day and Love Your Pet Day. The one that really touches my heart, and I love to embrace, is the National Random Acts of Kindness Day.
Like many of the “days to celebrate” that seem a little goofy or obvious, encouraging people to make random acts of kindness on one specific day may seem shortsighted. But like any of these holidays, it’s about drawing attention to something and encouraging knowledge and activity throughout the year. Every year since 1995, National Random Acts of Kindness Day falls on February 17th. We want to highlight and encourage gestures, words and actions to help make the world a kinder place to live.
Besides making the world a little nicer and brighter, there are medical reasons to embrace kindness. Regularly performing acts of kindness can lower anxiety, depression, pain, and blood pressure, resulting in better heart-health. Good news… studies show that compassion can be learned and trained. This study focused on adults proving that we are never too old to learn! Certainly, parents know how important it is to teach compassion to children. And the more often we share or exhibit random acts of kindness, the more others around us will be motivated to do the same. If being kind is contagious, then that is the mindset I want my family to catch!
The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention. ~Kahlil Gibran
Share: Dinner conversation is a great opportunity to share events of the day. If you ask: “Any random acts of kindness today?” this would include not only their own behaviors, but observing others showing compassion. If your family knows this will be a daily question, they will be more likely to practice observing and acting with kindness. “I saw Susie pick up the pencils Joe dropped.” “After the trash pickup occurred, I walked my neighbor’s trashcan back to their house.” Continue the conversation with questions such as “how did that make you feel?” or… “how do you think Joe felt because Susie was kind to him?”
A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. ~Amelia Earhart
Inspire: When out with your children show them how easy it is to hold the door for someone else, pick up a piece of litter or compliment someone’s outfit. If you see an opportunity for them to provide help, tell them to do so. For example, “hold the elevator door” or “help Mrs Smith next door carry her groceries inside.”
It takes courage to be kind. ~Maya Angelou
Empower: Talk about what it means to help others and why it is so important. Make a list of examples of random acts of kindness such as complimenting someone or sitting with the kid who is alone. By talking about what random acts of kindness are, and how they make everyone feel, we position ourselves to look for ways to be kind.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~Aesop
Act: Being kind and helpful isn’t exclusively random. Planning to do something kind for others is important too. When shopping with your children ask them to pick out canned goods to donate to a food drive. Often grocery stores will have a donation bag right in the store. Or make food to share. When I make a casserole, I often double the recipe and have the kids deliver a container of it to our elderly friend. If a friend is not feeling well, this chicken soup recipe is a wonderful way to help them feel better. When baking cookies, ask the kids who else would enjoy some of the cookies? Maybe Grandmommy would like some, or their teacher, or the new girl who just moved in down the street. Just a couple of cookies brings a smile to the recipient’s face.
There is no wrong way to perform an act of kindness. ~Catherine Ryan Hyde
Reflect: Talk about what it means to do random acts of kindness. Is it hard…does it have to be expensive…why do it? How did it make you feel? These will be the best conversations.
When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world. ~Harold Kushner
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