In our rushed world, we sometimes forget the difference a simple act of kindness can make. I have always tried to offer words or acts of kindness whenever I can. If I see a person struggling with a small child, trying to open a door, I will hurry to open the door for her. If I see an elderly person exerting himself trying to unload groceries into a trunk I will ask if I can help and put them in the trunk for him. If I see someone with a sad expression, I will find something kind to say, whether it is complimenting a colorful scarf or that I really like the sweater she is wearing. These simple acts and words of kindness are free and I am invariably rewarded with a smile.
We wonder if our actions are making an impact on our children. They are. My children have seen me performing random acts of kindness for their entire lives and I now see them doing the same.
When my son was 6, his class had a Thanksgiving feast. Each child was to bring a turkey sandwich and the parents would be on hand to prepare everything else. On the day of the feast, the children were sitting in a circle on a mat, their plates in front of them. They took out their sandwiches and put them on their plates. One little boy did not have a sandwich. Seconds later I saw my son break his in half and put half on this boy’s plate, without a word or a look.
When my other son was 10, we were shopping on a brutally cold Minnesota day. As we approached the store, we noticed a very cold man ringing the bell for the Salvation Army holidays collection. When we got into the store my son turned to me and asked if he could please buy one thing in the store. Since he usually did not ask for things, I agreed and followed him. He walked directly to the snack bar where he bought a cup of hot chocolate and took it out to the Salvation Army bell ringer, who accepted it with gratitude. (To this day, I often buy cups of hot chocolate for bell ringers on very cold days.)
These are just two examples. Know, though, that when you make it a habit to perform random acts of kindness, your children are watching.