Several years ago, a book called "Random Acts of Kindness" hit the bookshelves of stores around the world. It inspired people to look for simple ways to show kindness to others. It caught on and became a bestseller. Readers discovered the joy of doing the small things that made life happier for others. Many of the benefactors were people on the street, coworkers, anyone who might need a lift.
Nowhere is this concept more needed than right in our own homes. Why is it so easy to do a little act of kindness to a stranger, but not so easy to do one to family members? Maybe it's because we know we won't see the stranger again, which is a tiny bit sad because we can't know the joy we brought to him; a joy that he can't repay to us. Of course, he can always pay it forward to someone else, and that works, too. Think of the happiness this show of love could bring into our homes if we practiced it with the ones we share our lives with every day.
Example of a teenager
A 16-year-old young man was sharing his "ah-ha" moment about this concept. He said things were not going well for him at football practice. He simply didn't have the energy to do what was required by a very demanding coach. It worried him because he was really trying hard to do what he needed to do, including getting enough sleep and eating properly.
He was stumped. So he decided to pray for more energy. As he prayed he thought he needed to give something back to God in order to receive his request. He made a deal. "I told God that I would treat my little brother better in exchange for the energy I needed." He had been mean to his younger brother, so to keep his end of the deal he started treating him much better. He offered to help him with some schoolwork along with showing him some good moves on the ball field. He said, "When I started doing that; really paying attention to my brother and doing kind things for him things really changed at home. There's a lot more peace there. The funny thing is, I have been given more energy to play football. I kept my end of the deal, and God kept his."
The interesting thing is, acts of kindness do elicit energy. We feel better. Our spirits rise, and we're able to do more.
Make a list
Encourage your children to think of things they can do for their siblings. Have a discussion about it around the dinner table. You may even have a Random Acts of Kindness list posted where family members can write their ideas, and you can list yours. Every morning, each child picks a random act from the list. If they have a better idea they can do that, instead. The point is to start them thinking about kind things they can do for each other.
Here are some ideas to consider
1. Play with a younger sibling who needs a little attention.
2. Give your brother or sister a word of praise when they do something good.
3. If you accidentally bump into a sibling say "I'm sorry. Are you OK?" instead of saying something rude to them.
4. Defend your siblings at school if someone is making fun of them.
5. If your sibling accidentally breaks something help him clean it up. Give encouraging words like, "Hey, we all goof up now and then. It's OK."
6. Do your chores at home without complaining. That's a kindness every parent would appreciate.
Notice when they do these kind deeds and compliment them for it. Let them see you doing a few yourself. Re-evaluate what noticeable things you can do so they have a pattern to follow. Filling our homes with random acts of kindness will fill it with joy.