Winter

’Tis the Season to be Kind

Kindness, gratitude and generosity are values parents want to instill in their children. While there are plenty of teaching moments throughout the year, the holiday season is a perfect time to come together as a family and practice what we preach.

Last year Jamie Gladstein, along with her husband, Scott, and children Paige and Dylan, set out on a new holiday family endeavor—25 Random Acts of Kindness. “A good friend and her daughter have done it for the last several years,” Gladstein says. “I felt inspired to try and do it too and set a good example for my kids.”

Not only does kindness affect those on the receiving end, it is beneficial to the kind person’s health as well. A 2015 study by the University of British Columbia found that “Socially anxious participants who engaged in acts of kindness for 4 weeks showed a decrease in social avoidance goals, concluding that kindness is an effective way to reduce social anxiety.”

Even if you don’t have social anxiety, acting kind still has benefits to one’s self esteem. “My absolute favorite one was when I left a $15 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card with my pediatrician’s receptionist and said ‘please give this to a new mom who comes in today looking stressed out’,” says Gladstein. “I included an anonymous note telling them they are doing a great job as a mom and to enjoy a coffee and donut on me and that it does get easier.”

As for her kids, Gladstein says their favorite act of kindness was leaving snacks and drinks on the front porch for delivery truck drivers during the holiday season. An act of kindness doesn’t have to be monetary. Anything from a smile to holding the door open for someone counts. For kids, a no-cost act of kindness is pretty important. Plus, little things—like letting someone go ahead of you in line—are how we can teach them to pay attention to the world around them and adjust in a helpful way.

To prep for your season of kindness, you can plan ahead by making a calendar or advent calendar with a good deed per day on it. Or pick a few ideas at beginning and keep them coming as you’re out and about. Sometimes an on-the-fly act of kindness is especially meaningful to children, since they may have come up with the idea all on their own and will be proud of their good deed.

If you’re not planning ahead, you can watch your kindness progress by writing down each act on a strip of paper, then make a chain of good deeds to hang in your home. Or write them all on poster-size paper and frame it afterward as a reminder of how being kind made the kids feel.

Whether you’re ready to undertake 25 Random Acts of Kindness, or just a few throughout the season, here are some ideas to get you started.

Random Acts of Kindness
Make a gift basket for your UPS driver/mail carrier.
Buy something for a stranger—coffee, a toll, a lunch tab, groceries, whatever fits your budget and your mood.
Make care packages for the homeless (small bottles of lotion, chapstick, tissues, wet wipes, warm socks, granola bars, beef jerky).
Donate a toy to Toys for Tots, or buy a present for the Angel Tree.
Leave a BIG tip for a server.

Kindness for Your Friends
Babysit for another family (or do a babysitting swap over the holidays).
Make a meal for a friend, just because.
Send a co-worker a handwritten note of appreciation for their hard work.
Call an old friend.
Make a donation in a friend’s name to a charity important to them.

Kindness Acts for Kids
Donate toys they no longer play with.
Tape quarters to the kiddie rides at the mall or a vending machine.
Do a chore for your sibling (or parent!).
Make homemade cards for the neighbors.
Make RACK (Random Acts of Christmas (or Chanukah) Kindness) cards, attach goodies like candy canes and hand them out.

 

 

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