Cultivating a life of kindness with your kids

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About Sherri

Sherri is editor and co-founder of Zen Family Habits where she writes about living simply and cultivating healthy, meaningful relationships with loved ones.

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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Comments

  1. I loved reading this. Breakfast in bed sounds fun, tomorrow!
    .-= Leah@storybookranch´s last blog ..Hung by the Chimney, with Care =-.

  2. Great ideas! I especially love the princess for a day!
    A kind note telling why you love them, surprise them with a favorite meal for no special reason…or do a spa day.
    Just learn from me and when a homemade facial recipe calls for oatmeal, do NOT use steel-cut oats on your six year old’s face. But ever since I did a spa day for her, she has been begging to do one for me :-)
    .-= Angela Mills´s last blog ..I don’t make my bed and other confessions… =-.

  3. What a lovely post to wake up to on a monday morning!!! I love surprising my kids with YES days – I don’t announce it but they get it soon enough… Can we do play-dough – yes – even though I should be dashing out the door for an errand… Can we build a house on the deck – yes… no matter the weather. Sometimes I can’t just cancel the errands, turn off the phone and be there but usually I can break my mind-set and surprise them with a yes…
    .-= se7en´s last blog ..Saturday Spot: Se7en + 1 visit the Strandloper… =-.

  4. Lovely post! I think it is easy to forget that a child needs random surprises too! We haven’t started doing this kind of thing with our little bear yet (he’s 20 months) but will definitely start now.
    .-= Lynn´s last blog ..It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky… =-.

  5. It is easy to think that children should just be kind – they’re so cute and petite – , but how will they know what kindness is unless it is modeled for them? Kindness must be demonstrated.
    .-= Jennifer Tankersley´s last blog ..Get Organized for the Holidays! =-.

  6. avatar
    Valerie R. says:

    I love the Mystery Day idea. I think I’ll do that for my boys over the long Christmas break! Can’t wait to get planning!

  7. I love your suggestion of Princess for a day, and I think my 2-year-old daughter would eat that up. For my son (4 years old), the key seems to be time spent just doing whatever it is he dreams up as fun…playing Ninja Turtles, crashing race cars, playing hide-and-seek. If I tell him I’m excited to participate, he lights up.

    I wrote a post about how kids love the simple things, and I think your great suggestions show us some awesome ways to make a lasting impression with our children…the simple way.
    .-= Dustin | Engaged Marriage´s last blog ..Did Tiger Woods Simply Have a Car Accident? I Sure Hope So. =-.

  8. Oh, Sherri! I love these ideas! They completely capture what I hope to create in my family. The princess for a day idea – oh my goodness, my girls would LOVE this. I look forward to hearing what ideas others will add to this conversation.
    .-= Megan at Simple Kids´s last blog ..What We’re Reading: Ivy + Bean and The Empty Pot =-.

  9. We did something called The Best Day Ever.

    It started out with a donut breakfast, trip to the zoo, the museum, out to Red Robin, a small local amusement park, ice cream, shopping, a playground, and then…MORE ICE CREAM.

    The kids didn’t know what hit them. It was a blast. Just when they thought the fun was over? BAM. More frolicking. I hope to do it again when we can afford such a lavish day.
    .-= gretchen from lifenut´s last blog ..A post about a post about a tree =-.

  10. Oh, I like the prince/princess for a day. I think that would be a GREAT birthday.

    My favorite days when I was little were the days my mom would randomly pick me up at noon from school and we would go home and have hot chocolate together – just the two of us – which is a huge treat when you’re the youngest of 4!

  11. Sometimes my husband and I will surprise the kids by getting them ice cream – for dinner! Whether it’s out at an ice cream shop or a bulid-your-own sundae bar at home, they love the delicious naughtiness of it. :)

  12. This is beautiful! I think we can get so wrapped up in teaching our kids how to be good and thoughtful and well-mannered and do things for others that we forget they might just learn from us doing extra-special nice things for them. Thank you!
    .-= Melodie´s last blog ..Breastfeeding Nature’s Way =-.

  13. I. Love. This. My kid is just two weeks old, but I’m already excited about making a lazy spot and making him king for a day. Precious ideas that show how special our kids are to us. It’s great to be reminded that I don’t need to snag every single opportunity to TEACH my kids something. Sometimes it’s great to stop and love my son just because he’s mine. Thanks for this.
    .-= My First Kitchen´s last blog ..Rigatoni with White Wine Tomato Sauce =-.

  14. Love this, we have a mystery day planned on Christmas Eve, going on a santa special steam train – my little boys will absolutely adore this and we’re keeping it a secret until we get there :)

  15. I’m so glad you guys enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing your random acts of kindness as well. I have more to add to my list. Thank you! :)
    .-= Sherri Kruger´s last blog ..The 5 Needs Of Every Relationship =-.

  16. great post, and I love that sweet picture. :)
    .-= Samantha @ Mama Notes´s last blog ..My Must Have Items During Pregnancy =-.

  17. Such a great reminder and great specific ideas. I’m so focused on delegating and figuring out systems and projects to get them to help, that I forget that management isn’t the MAIN thing. Motherhood is in the KINDNESS. Thanks for the reminders!
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Some Animal Learning Links =-.

  18. Love these…we just did breakfast in bed for our oldest
    son yesterday :)
    .-= Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam´s last blog ..The Art of Multitasking =-.

  19. Recently for my daughter’s birthday, I picked her up from school early and let her decide what we did for the next hour. We played at the park…I followed her direction and played her games, her way. She beamed! It was worth it.
    How will children learn to be randomly kind to others if we aren’t randomly kind to them… I remind myself :)
    Thank you for the great post.
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..Thanksgiving Dinner =-.

  20. I believe the very best thing we can do for our kids is to be *fully present* with them on a regular basis… Your laptop may be calling your name, your toilet may be ready to walk out the door, and your personal agenda may seem far more important, but your kids desperately *want* and *need* you to intentionally spend undivided attention on (and uninterrupted time with) them and their interests. No long-term goals. No higher purpose. Just pure pleasure in playing in the present. Bring it on, Barbie! ;)
    .-= Michelle @ [ real neat ]´s last blog ..Holiday Helps : Budget Forms =-.

  21. These ideas are great (I especially like the mystery day).

    Having said that, it’s important to remain your kids’ parent and to make sure these things are done from a position of strength and love and not from one of fear or guilt.

    When I look at my day, there are lots of things, big and small, that I do for my kids and out of love for them. I like doing special things, but the daily ones are often larger and more frequent.

    Ronit
    .-= Family Matters´s last blog ..Birthday Fairies =-.

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