Our readers' best ideas for encouraging their children to be kind
Make a Day of It
Every so often, our family has a day of kindness: we leave coloring books and crayons at the pediatric ER waiting room, take drawings to an assisted-living facility, hand out bubble jars at the playground, take cookies to the police and fire stations, and leave dollars taped to shelves at the dollar store.
Bel Air, MD
Pay It Forward
After school on Fridays, the kids and I go to a drive-through restaurant and pay for the car behind us.
Lisa Shadyac Afshar
Palm City, FL
Study the Subject
We read books that teach compassion, such as The Kindness Quilt, by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. They're a great way to open up a conversation on the subject.
Give as You Grow
My 12-year-old daughter and I raise vegetables -- turnips, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and corn -- and take the extras to the local food bank. (I had hoped it would also make her more willing to eat her veggies, but now she's prone to ask if we can just deliver them to the food bank!)
New Braunfels, TX
Support Kids' Kind Efforts
My boys have a baby cousin with cystic fibrosis. Each year we set up a lemonade stand to raise money for cystic fibrosis research. The boys make the signs, bake the cookies, and serve the guests. By doing the work themselves, they learn that little kids can do big things.
Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
Pencil in Family Service Time
We do a service project every month. The projects range from reading to hospice patients to handing out flowers to strangers. My children come up with many of the ideas on their own. Last Valentine's Day, for example, my son wanted to make a valentine for every resident of the local nursing home! It took forever, but he was worried that some residents would be sad if they didn't get one. We're still finding leftover glitter.
Practice on Pets
I use our dogs to teach my young daughter, Evie, about kindness. She helps feed them, and we talk about how important it is to take care of pets -- and people -- who need us.
Mount Wolf, PA
Wrap it Up
We assemble kindness packages that we keep in our car to share with people who are homeless. Some of the items included are: water, granola bars, crackers, fruit snacks, and a McDonald's gift card.
Show Others You Care
During the holidays, my daughter and I take roses to a nearby nursing home and give them to patients who don't have visitors, so they know someone is thinking of them.
Cape Coral, FL
Share Positive Examples
As the Cub Scout leader for my son's den, I start our meetings by having every kid tell the group what he did for someone that week. Then we all applaud each act of kindness.
Teach Them How to Donate
As a family, we've always participated in Operation Christmas Child, shopping for toys and gifts to fill shoe boxes for kids in need. After Hurricane Katrina, my daughter (who was 5 at the time) decided to fill a box -- her own idea -- with clothes and toys for the kids in New Orleans. I knew right then that our involvement with the charity had taught her about kindness and giving to others.
Alana Hudson Greene