Inside:Want to head off entitlement in your kids? These ideas about acts of kindness for kids are simple ways to change their “all about me” mentality and help them discover the joy in serving others
It sure feels like our world could use a healthy dose of kindness these days.
But I take heart when I see all the ways that people are coming together towards that goal.
I think it especially important for our kids to internalize this message and I am always looking for ways to help my children with this lesson. Whether it’s a random act of kindness or being mindful that we regularly perform purposeful acts of kindness in our community, both are a great way to teach our children about serving others.
That is why when I first heard about The Birthday Project several years ago, I immediately fell in love with the concept.
What Is The Birthday Project?
The basic idea is that instead of celebrating a birthday the traditional way, you take the opportunity to spread joy to others. Generally, this is done by doing an equivalent number of acts of kindness to your age.
My oldest child, Olivia, turns 13 this year and when I told her about this idea, she thought it was perfect! I was thrilled, because heading into the teen years, we all know our kids can be pretty self-involved. This was a great way to start off this important life stage in a way that emphasized a less “me centric” attitude.
Olivia had brainstormed ideas for months, determined to find 13 perfect acts of kindness that were meaningful to her. To make things a tad more festive, she invited some friends along and we set out to cover the town in kindness!
Sidebar: This child is a planner and a dreamer, with a flair for the dramatic, there were vigorous debates over what kindness really meant, the impact of blessing the blessed vs. the concept of blessing period, and numerous eye rolls at her siblings suggestions. Just keeping it real here.
Don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t seem “into” the process of planning.
the lesson in all of this will hit home during the “doing” , maybe…more on that in a bit.
This is what she finally(seriously, for weeks we discussed and changed and rediscussed, etc…) decided upon:
13 Acts of Kindness for Kids – The Birthday Project
- Chocolates for the OB nurses at the hospital where she was born.
- Bouquet of flowers for the pediatrician and donuts for the office staff that has cared for her from birth until present.
- Paid for 2 people buying food in the hospital cafeteria.
- There is currently a new children’s hospital being built near us and we made a donation to the project while at the hospital. (The pic above is the girls in one of the construction areas)
- Rainbow loom princesses for kids we saw in various waiting rooms throughout the hospital.
- Taped quarters to all sorts of vending machines to cover the cost of a snack or drink.
- Chips, salsa & cookies were dropped off at a fire station
- Hid 13 $1 bills around the dollar store. She and her friends hid them at “kid level” with a tag saying whoever found this could buy anything in the whole store!
- Put random $5 gift cards in the women’s restroom at Target.
- Paid for the car behind us when we went to Sonic Happy Hour.
- Slipped an encouraging note & gift card to a church staff member signed “anonymous”.
- Took cupcakes & art supplies to the Ronald McDonald House.
- Painted her little sister’s toenails
- Cleaned out her room and made a donation to Goodwill.
The Gift Of Receiving
Olivia used some of her birthday money to finance these acts and we gave her the money we would have spent on a traditional birthday party.
The girls had a good time, but quickly learned that a majority of folks had no idea how to RECEIVE kindness.
When we were at the fire station, the firefighters seemed a little perplexed, but also appreciative of the goodies. The nurses seemed confused, but grateful, and the people in the cafeteria that we bought meals for didn’t know what to do… And all of those reactions launched a good discussion among all of us.
We talked about the gift of receiving.
We talked about how sometimes people process things differently. We talked about none of us really knowing the reach this day had. We talked about all the good possibilities that could come from what happened. We talked about the REAL reason we did all this…it wasn’t about winning praise or admiration, it wasn’t about other people’s reactions, it was simply about spreading joy with acts of kindness.
It was, in Olivia’s words, about serving others and thinking about them more than ourselves.
Looking for more ways to help your children give back?