What greater gift can a parent instill in their child than the idea of putting others before themselves? How one seemingly small gesture of kindness can ripple on and on. We’re always thinking of ways to help children learn the value of joy they can receive by helping someone else who is in need. Teaching kindness doesn’t happen overnight. The ripple effect is created when one seemingly small action causes another similar action by the receiving person.
“Small” act of kindness
I was recently waiting in a long line of a coffee shop drive-thru. As I approached the window to place my order and hand over my credit card, the cashier told me that my order had already been taken care of. With a moment of puzzlement, the understanding of what had just occurred began to settle in. The car in front of me had paid for my coffee. This feeling of emotional warmth I received, remained with me throughout the day. I found myself smiling more, humming at work and an overall sense of contentment. That night with my family we discussed ways in which we show kindness towards others.
Be a role model
As parents, we want to model acts of kindness. Even the smallest action can have a big impact. Have you ever been in line at a store and let someone go in front of you? What about asking the store clerk how their day is going? Through our examples, we are teaching kindness. Our children will learn the value and joy of living a life of being caring to others.
Hold family discussions
Encouraging children to engage in the ripple effect may mean that family discussions are needed to set good deeds in motion. Whether it is during a family meal time or while traveling in the car, this type of conversation is a great opportunity to talk about being on the receiving end. Ask your chidlren if they remember a time when someone did something nice for them and how it made them feel. Being considerate helps chidlren feel valuable, and fosters empathy.
Kindness ideas for children
- Draw a picture or write a letter to a child who is absent from school
- Offer an extra pair of gloves to a child who doesn’t have any
- Seek out children who are alone at recess and include them in your games
- If you are walking to school on a rainy day and you see a child with no umbrella, share yours
- Donate books to your school or local library
- Encourage your child to forgo birthday gifts in exchange for donations to a charity
- Shovel the driveway/sidewalk for a neighbor
- Babysit for free
- Purchase school supplies for your class
- Create a recess bag of outdoor and indoor toys
- Hand out stickers to your classmates
- Friendly gestures such as holding a door open for someone
- Give a compliment to a friend
- Greet and start a conversation with another child at school that you don’t know much about
Kindness ideas for the whole family
- Adopt a family for the holiday season and buy them gifts
- Donate some money to a local charity
- Volunteer at a Food bank
- Visit people at a hospital and bring cards, letters or pictures you have created
- Bake a meal/treats for a neighbor
- Donate gently used clothing or toys
- Offer to watch and feed neighbor’s children for an evening
- Spend time at a seniors’ centre playing games or just having a conversation with them
Kindness is contagious
We need to keep in mind that the ripple effect is not a one-time event. It is about a shift in mindset. When we change your mindset, we change what we say and do. The idea of the ripple effect is about making the life of others and yours, truly more meaningful. When we’re kind we inspire others to be kind. Just as a stone dropped in water creates waves, acts of kindness will ripple outwards too.