Cultivating a life of kindness with your kids

Selflessness. Doing something for someone else without expecting anything in return.

It’s a lovely sentiment and one I’m sure we’d all like to do a bit more often. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in our own little bubble. We can end up walking around with blinders on completely unaware of what’s going on around us.

When we do think about a random act of kindness we tend to think about doing a nice little thing for a complete stranger. What if I asked you to think within your family, who immediately comes to mind? Your husband? Your wife? Siblings or parents perhaps?

What about our kids? They aren’t the first people that usually come to mind. After all, they do get so much of our attention as it is. But they are little people, with little personalities that enjoy feeling special and being fussed over occasionally, just as you or I do. To some people doing special things for their own kids out of the blue is an alien concept.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry it doesn’t make you a bad person or parent. It means there is room for growth, relationship development and a whole lot of fun. Here are some nice things you can do for your kids to make them feel extra special from time to time.

1. Take on a chore.

This is something we can all relate to. Think of that one chore you really dread doing each and every week. Now imagine how nice it would be if someone jumped up and did it for you, right out of the blue – no questions asked!

Your kids are no different. Choose a chore or two that they aren’t particularly fond of and do it for them. You don’t have to tell them ahead of time or make a big deal about doing it. In fact it would be better if you didn’t.

2. Cook their favorite meal … together.

If your kids are anything like mine, there is a direct connection to their heart through their stomach (I think they get this from their dad). Spend the afternoon teaching your kid to make their favorite meal. Explain what you’re doing and what all the ingredients are.

Be positive, encouraging and make it fun. Make this even more special by going all out by having special drinks and snacks while you cook. Get your child their own apron and make sure they have a stool or a chair so they don’t miss out on any of the action.

3. Prince or Princess for a day.

princess girl
Photo by Hubert K

This can be fun so long as you bring a fantastic sense of humor and an air of positivity to the day. As the king or queen for the day, relinquish your kids of all that is normally expected of them. Be at their beck and call. Give them a bell so they can get your attention.

Sure, this will get old in about ten seconds, but take a minute and listen to the giggles and look at the smiles on their little faces each time you come back after hearing that bell. It’ll be something to remember!

4. Let them be the boss.

Allow your child to make all the decisions for the day. What time they get up, what everyone will eat for the day, family activities and special snacks. Help them out when you feel they need it; odds are they’ve never been given this level of responsibility before. Be supportive and encouraging.

Expect mistakes and delays. This is not only fun for your special little person, but it’s making them aware of what goes into planning most days. I’m all for learning disguised as fun!

5. Lazy day.

Set up a bed or big comfy spot on the living room floor complete with pillows, blankets, remotes and anything else you’ll need for the next few hours. Pop in their favorite movie and just take it all in.

This one is really nice to do when the little ones are sick. Nothing beats the cold or flu like a day under the covers watching movies. Stay in your pajamas all day and eat simple, light meals when you feel like it. Relaxing like this is a great way to reconnect with your family.

6. Mystery day.

Wake them up and ask them to get dressed but don’t tell them why or where you’re going. Tell them you have a great day planned but it’s all a mystery. They’ll certainly have fun pestering begging you to tell them where you’re going. Think shopping, lunch, and a movie followed by a snack after. Or breakfast, a trip to the museum, a snack, and go-kart racing. The possibilities are endless. Just keep in mind that this is their mystery day and activities should be geared towards them.

7. Breakfast in bed.

Let your kids sleep in a bit and wake them with their favorite meal. Sit in bed with them and talk about what you’ll do that day. Take this opportunity to reconnect with your child.

Find out how they are doing in school, if they have any new friends, or what sports they may be interested in this year. Be sure you approach it in a way that shows your genuine interest in them, not in a way that looks like you’re digging for information.

As with anything, the best way to teach your children to be kind is by setting a good example yourself. By doing something unexpected for your child, you’re showing them first hand what it feels like to have something nice done for them.

After you’ve had your fun, talk a bit about what you did. Ask them to think of ways they could pay it forward. Who could they do something nice for this week? What could they do?

What ideas do you have about extending extra kindness to your kids this week?

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