I am sure you’ve never been out in public with young children and been embarrassed by their behavior. Never, not you. Not your kids. But just…
Holidays are great. They provide some extra fun moments amidst the treadmill of life. They often force us to stop and celebrate with the people we love. And perhaps best of all, they provide natural and enjoyable teaching moments with the little people in our home.
Valentine’s day is no different. February is known as the month of love, and what a concept to capitalize on! There are a variety of traditions that moms utilize to teach the characteristics of love– maybe you have a few of your own. Here’s an idea someone gave me that I’ve loved over the years.
We will call it “The Secret Acts of Kindness Week.”
This is the way it works…
Each family member’s name gets written on a small piece of paper. Each child draws a name. I recommend you include “mom” and “dad” too. Then each person proceeds to do an anonymous kind deed for the person they picked that day. The next day you draw a new name and find a way to show love to that family member.
Simple enough, right? But as easy as it is, the meaningful lessons abound!
Lesson #1 – Giving is fun!
When your children get to brainstorm what they will do for someone, and sneakily carry it out, they think it’s a blast! Better yet, when they watch a sibling or parent enjoy their kind act, it brings the child (who was intentionally kind) so much joy! Essentially, they are learning a profound truth in a hands-on way, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Lesson #2 – We don’t need to get credit.
Let’s be honest; it’s not easy to forgo the credit for doing something good (for any of us)! But through secret acts of kindness, we learn the joy that comes from making someone happy even if we don’t get a “thank you.”
Lesson # 3 – It’s okay if your kindness goes unnoticed.
In trying this activity in my own home, we realized that sometimes the recipient won’t be aware of the kind act. However, what a good teaching moment! Our children learn that being kind is still a good thing! They can begin to understand that showing love still benefits the recipient. Some conversations could go even deeper as you point to the fact that God always sees, even when other’s don’t.
Lesson #4 – The effort to show kindness is worth it!
When we started our secret giving week, some children came up with ideas of kindness that surprised me. They were ready to do a sibling’s chore that they never like doing! But at that moment I could see them realizing someone’s enjoyment is worth the extra work. What a life lesson!
If you are going to give this a try, here are a few tips I learned along the way:
Help the little ones if they need it. Or have an older sibling come alongside a younger child. I found this was the best part …2 kids teaming up to brainstorm and carry out acts of kindness!
Give them ideas of what they can do for each other. Such as:
Make someone’s bed
Do their chore before they get to it
Write a sweet note
Do their laundry
Get their toothbrush all set up with toothpaste on it
Leave a little treat on their pillow
Organize a drawer for them
When you brainstorm ideas, don’t have your children share their ideas. I found the best plans came from the kids themselves (and they are better kept secret).
As I said before, it would be good if you participated! It’s a fun bonding time! But more than that, I think the kids really enjoy serving you since they usually see you serve them.
If your husband doesn’t get home until later in the evening it may be hard for him to participate. Maybe it’s better to all team up to show daddy kindness together.
Be an example of showing gratitude. Don’t make it obvious that you know who had you (because of your amazing power of deduction), just say, “Whoever set out my jammies and got my toothbrush ready made me so happy! I loved it!” The momentum this builds is contagious! Everyone gets excited not just to be grateful, but to make someone else that happy!
Finally, don’t expect this tradition to go perfectly! It won’t. The kids might not keep their kind acts a secret. They may lack creativity and thoughtfulness. They may display more selfishness than kindness… but the goal is being accomplished: The stage is set for hands-on, real-life, teaching moments. And hopefully, some fun, sweet, happy moments will sneak in there too!
So there you have it…”Secret Acts of Kindness Week.”