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. Today I thought I would share an idea that a friend just gave me, that I couldn’t help but go home and implement right away!
We will call it “The Secret Acts of Kindness Week.”
This is the way it works…
Each child draws a name of someone in the family. I recommend you include “mom” and “dad” too. Then each person proceeds to do an anonymous kind deed for the person they picked, sometime that day. The next day you draw a new name and find a way to show love to that family member. So it goes for the week (or weeks if you so desire).
Simple enough, right? But as easy as it is, the lessons for our children 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 being the recipient of the 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 of doing something good. For any of us! But through secret acts of kindness, we can 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 even be aware of the kind act. However, what a good teaching moment! Our children can learn that being kind is still a good thing. They can begin to understand that showing love still benefits the recipient. It’s possible some conversations could go 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 are not able to creatively show love themselves. 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! Furthermore, the older one was getting the chance to practice extra kindness and maturity by helping the younger one.
- Give them some ideas of what they can do for each other. Such as:
- Make their bed for them
- 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! So when I mistakingly had them share their ideas, the best secret strategies became not so secret. Oops.
- 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 knowing you are the one always serving them (Of course, you are still serving them by making this tradition happen, and doing your own acts of secret kindness – but it’s good for them to be able to show you love!)
- If your husband doesn’t get home until later in the evening it may be hard for him to participate. However, maybe you can all team up to show daddy kindness together. Get creative and surprise him with something special when he comes home each night
- Be an example of showing gratitude. Don’t make it obvious that you know who had you (because of your amazing power of deduction), but at meal time say something like, “Whoever set out my jammies and got my toothbrush ready made me so happy! I loved it!” [Note: those were genuine words of delight that came out of my mouth this morning]The momentum this builds is contagious! We ALL get excited not just to be grateful, but to make someone else that happy!
- Finally, don’t expect this tradition to go perfectly! The kids might not keep their kind acts a secret. They may lack creativity and thoughtfulness. You may feel they 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.”