“Let’s take 28 days of the month and each day I want you to think of one thing you can do each day to be kind to someone else.” This is what we ask 4th & 5th graders to do as a “homework” assignment during our KidSafe program. I was somewhat shocked recently by the student’s responses such as, “I don’t have time.” “Twenty eight, that’s so many!” “We really have to do this?” My initial internal emotional response was outrage and great disappointment, how dare these privileged children tell me they don’t have time to be kind! But I remained poker faced and instead of anger and disappointment I asked them to explain to me what they thought I was asking them to do – so we could clarify the assignment.
As hands raised, one student thought he had to come up with all 28 in one day, as I took a deep yoga breath, I explained that no, not all 28 in a day. Others thought they needed to take on big service projects. I explained the concept of small acts of kindness. I suggested that as they are brushing their teeth in the morning (assuming they are doing this J) this is a great time to take a moment and think about one way they can be kind today. I explained that I am not even asking them to do it. I just want each student to start their day thinking about it. If they do an act of kindness that is a wonderful thing. If they don’t that is okay too – I just want them to think “what can I do today to be kind to someone else?”
I could practically see the little light bulbs coming on above their heads, the tone in the classroom changed. One student asked if they should write down their acts of kindness. The positive tone was palpable. We then brainstormed ideas of what “kindness” looks and feels like during the day at school. Once we got started they understood the concept of small gestures of kindness having a huge impact on another human being. As I looked at the class I did notice that for many this was a topic that many of the children do not discuss at school or at home.
What kind of children are we raising? Math, Science, Reading – all important, but what about “Character Education?” Who is teaching our children (or not) about being good people? Good citizens? We at KidSafe want to reach out to Parents. We implore you to model kindness but also to have the conversations with your children that will shape the adults they will become. Parents NEED to be teaching and modeling for their children how to be a good person, how to be kind, how to be fair and how to give back.