14 Little Ways to Encourage Kindness

The Art of Pitching In

Assign chores.

Kids should understand that a certain amount of helping is requested and required "just because": just because they're members of the family, just because they live under the same roof, and just because it's the right thing to do. So show them where the cat food is and how to clear the dinner table and make their beds. And keep a chore chart to track and reward the completion of their tasks. Your kids will feel great pride in doing their share.

Teach teamwork.

How often have you hosted a playdate and been left with what looks like a scene from the movie Twister: dolls and their tiny clothes strewn everywhere, glue and glitter splattered on tables and rugs, juice cups and crumbs all over? When your child is a guest, make sure she helps clean up before she climbs into the minivan. If the host insists it's not necessary, say, "Let us pick up three things and then we'll be on our way." Putting away a few army men or Legos is a great way to practice the art of pitching in.

Perform small acts of kindness.

I have a friend who'd had breast cancer. I asked her, "What was the nicest thing anyone did for you when you were sick?" She told me that the mother of one of her daughter's friends packed lunches for her little girl for the entire month after the surgery. This simple gesture meant my friend could take the time to recuperate minus one daily chore. Plus, her daughter enjoyed some new tasty treats in her lunch box.

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