In our household, when we talk about kindness, especially random acts of kindness, it can feel like a broken record to my kids. So much so, that my oldest often rebels because he's tired of hearing it so much. And, whatever my oldest decides to do, my youngest two tend to follow suit.
Even I get tired of the "battle" sometimes. The battle to raise kind, empathetic kids. To think of and to accept others. This is not the easy path for parents. The easy path would be to let them do whatever they wanted. But, I convinced myself long ago that I will be their parent, not their friend. This seems like such a harsh statement - I'm friendly and supportive, but I'm super clear with boundaries and what's acceptable behavior
Kids need to hear things over and over and over again. It's a scientific fact that they are born with very little working memory - that piece of their memory that they can call upon when the situation requires it. My goal is to FILL their working memory with so much practice on being kind and empathetic that it becomes second nature. That it becomes PRIMARY nature. So, bring on the broken record. Because in this family, kindness and acceptance is a value.
Okay, why am I on my tirade in this blog post that's supposed to be about random acts of kindness? Probably because I'm having one of those weeks where the Broken Record Syndrome is in high gear!
But, mostly because, in completing our random acts of kindness, it was a bit of a battle to get them started. It had nothing to do with kindness and everything to do with not wanting to do what I say! Through the process, though, they ended up having so much fun with the activity.
In every kindness activity, we have to choose who we want to serve. For this one, the person we are serving is a friend or a family. And, both kids ended up really enjoying taking a few moments to think about why this person would benefit from a random act of kindness and what this person would really like or need.
There are lots of new technology and tools out there to promote random act of kindness. This week, I am using the GoodCards to promote a random act of kindness with my kids AND make it fun. So, for this activity, you do need to order a GoodCard from their website. It's inexpensive and counts as a tax-deductible donation to a nonprofit, A Better World International.
To kick off the activity, I showed my kids the card and a couple of introductory videos (available in this week's download!). We ended up having a fun conversation about the ripples of kindness and the concept of paying it forward (which, I learned by the way, is a concept that most elementary students don't understand). There's this great video I used to help the discussion of paying it forward…it's harder than you think to explain!
One thing I've used with my kids in the past is the scientific fact that if you complete a kindness act for one person, it actually makes three people happy. The giver, the recipient, and then the future recipient of kindness from your recipient. (See - hard to explain). Then, through the concept of paying it forward, your single act of kindness can end up impacting hundreds of people.
As I talked about this with my kids, I made a really elementary drawing attempting to show the chain reaction or ripple effects. It was a pretty bad drawing, so I will keep it to myself, but it worked as my kids started to add up all the circles (ahem - people).
Anyway, using The GoodCards combines the physical card with an app you download to your smart phone. And, any time I introduce or use technology as a teaching tool for my kids they get excited (mostly because they almost never get screen time so it's still pretty novel for them).
The concept of GoodCards is that you do a random act of kindness and pass on the GoodCard. The recipient then scans the GoodCard in the app and then does their own random act of kindness for someone, who then also scans the GoodCard in the app. Each time someone scans, the GoodCard notifies everyone in the kindness chain and provides a cool visual map to see how the card is traveling from place to place promoting acts of kindness.
We decided to follow GoodCards lead and make a box of goodies for a family or a friend. This forced my kids to think about the other person, what's going on with them, and then choose a few things to include in the GoodCard box - I spent about $10 for each box. They then wrote a letter to the recipient, helped me box it up (along with the GoodCard and a flyer - also available in this week’s download - explaining what it is), and then sent it off.
As the recipients receive these boxes and then (hopefully) complete their own random acts of kindness, I'll share more about their response and how our GoodCards have traveled!
In the meantime, check out this week's download complete with a warm up activity, a letter template, and a flyer that you can use to send with the GoodCard. I can't wait to hear how your experience goes as well!