Did you know that a simple act of kindness can be as exciting as sex, drugs, or alcohol?
It’s true! Scientific research has found that doing a kind act releases oxytocin–that special feel fabulous brain chemical – the same one that is released when you are in love, or intoxicated.
It’s a chemical that everyone’s brain releases over things like holding your baby, snuggling your pet, a special romantic moment with your spouse. It also lowers blood pressure. Not only does the person receiving the kindness or giving it get this “natural high” so does the giver – maybe even more so!
So teaching your kids to “pay it forward” as they say, is probably the greatest gift you can give them!
Here are some great ways to teach your kids (and the rest of your family) about the Joys of Giving.
Kindness, Patience, and Authenticity
Whatever you do, is your model for your kids. So, just think kindness, patience, and authenticity in almost everything you do.
The kids, of course, are always watching, and they are always eager imitators. Easy things like:
- Giving a real compliment to a stranger in line with you while waiting with friendly eye contact.
- Show patience in a crowded line and smile and thank the order taker.
- Invite the person behind you in a long line to go first.
- Leave some flowers at a hospital for the nurses to give it to someone who needs it. Bring a bag of dollar coloring books and new crayons to the children’s wing at a hospital.
- Hold a door or elevator door open with a flourish.
- Bring a bag of toiletries like combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste at a shelter or soup kitchen.
- Let cars merge on the highway without beating them out.
- Give some of your unused grocery coupons to someone else in line.
- Carry someone’s groceries to their car.
- Let the other person vying for that parking space have it.
- Offer your mail carrier, newspaper person a hot or cold beverage depending on the weather.
- Volunteer to read to kids or help with times table memorizing at a school or after school program, or library.
- Pay a toll for the car behind you.
- Make someone looking shy and alone at a social gathering feel comfortable by striking up a conversation.
The Kids Are Givers
Besides the above “every day” suggestions, here’s a great way to plan a giving day with the kids along with a mall trip.
Check out some cute relatively inexpensive toy that your own kids like. Talk with them about getting one for them to keep, but also buying some to give to some strangers –other children.
You can talk about what children would need and love a toy that would cheer them up. Your kids will be excited to do this. Talk about how the toys would be given. You might choose to print out papers that say. “You have been chosen to get receive kindness. Hope it makes you smile.”
Another “giving activity” with the kids is you could make holiday or feel-good cards for a senior center, bring them over with an arrangement to spend some time visiting a few seniors who could use kids bright smiles and company, as well as the art cards, and maybe have them read a story, or, hold a spa day for them and paint their nails.
Here are some other “Giving Day” ideas:
- Your family can organize and plan a neighborhood, school, or place of worship food drive, or craft or game afternoon at a children’s home.
- Your family can put on gloves and overalls, take garbage bags and rakes, and pick up and dispose of litter at a local park.
- Think with the family about a local cause that you would like to support and write a letter to a local government official all together about it.
- As a family, volunteer at an animal shelter or hold a dog wash for them.
What Goes Around Comes Around
Teaching kids the importance of “giving back” and helping them to become more socially aware through shared acts of kindness and charity is essential to developing their sense of compassion, of caring, but most of all, of empathy.
Empathy is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children because it helps them see the world through someone else’s eyes. Empathy helps to replace selfishness with selflessness, and installs in them a desire to help others and make a difference in the world – and that is truly the gift that keeps on giving.