One of the hardest lessons parents have to teach their kids is that the world is not always a very kind place. And to be honest, it’s a pretty awful lesson to have to teach. I mean, why isn’t the world a kind place? Why do we transform from happy go lucky kids to crabby adults? How can we nip this transition in the bud? Or better yet, how can we teach kindness?
I was lucky enough to be invited to a panel hosted by Staples and the Born This Way Foundation, an organization committed to empowering youth to create a kinder, braver world. The Kindness Summit featured panelists who spoke about the findings of a research study that focused on how kind students felt their schools were, as well as what can be done in order to improve kindness in schools.
I got Kindergarten transition tips from Lady Gaga’s Mama, Cynthia Germanotta. One of the kindest women I’ve had the pleasure to meet.
Staples drove the Kindness Summit through philanthropic action, fully funding every Chicago Donor’s Choose project under $2,000 and supporting the creative and talented students behind the Young Writer’s Project. As a teacher, I know first hand how essential it is that kids have the physical things that they need so that they can feel safe and concentrate on learning and thriving. Through their generous donation, Staples ensured that thousands of Chicago students will have a successful school year.
The panel brought together by Staples and the Born This Way Foundation acknowledged that tangible school supplies were just the start in creating a kind environment that encourages students to grow and learn. Cynthia Germanotta, Lady Gaga’s mother, led a discussion on how to drive change within our schools and communities. My biggest takeaway from the lively discussion was to recognize that young people are VITAL to creating a kinder and braver world. We need to start seeing them as leaders and provide them with mental wellness support in order to truly make a difference.
What does that support look like? The research study pointed out that teachers simply making eye contact and saying hello to students in the morning is a crucial first step. I was taken aback by this. What teachers are NOT welcoming their students into their classroom!?!? Other resources include modeling positive and kind behavior, reducing the “otherness” that tends to make kind environments dissolve, and awareness of the warning signs that a child is struggling with mental wellness (such as acting out, being withdrawn and quiet, grades slipping, acting out of the ordinary, etc.).
After two hours of discussion, all attendees took part in a project started by one of the panelists and the Chicago Channel Kindness Awards winner. We packed backpacks filled with toiletries and other resources for Chicago’s homeless youth. It was such a simple project that I knew would have a positive impact, so it got me thinking about different projects I can do with my children to spread kindness.
So my boys and I decided that we are challenging ourselves to spread kindness over a 30 day Kindness Challenge. Half of the activities are for them, and the other half are for me. Because honestly, I feel like the Mommy Wars and catty Mommy Facebook groups are bringing out the worst in moms instead of the best. Want to join in on our Kindness Challenge? We are starting September 1st and will be documenting our journey on Instagram stories and Twitter using the #QueeniesKindnessChallenge hashtag. Hope you follow along!
*Hold the door open for someone.
*Make eye contact with someone and give him or her a huge smile.
*Say please and thank you—and MEAN IT.
*Make something with a friend.
*Donate a toy to someone in need.
*Share a toy with a kid at the park.
*Give someone a high five.
*Give someone a compliment that you truly mean.
*Invite someone to play with you.
*Make a picture for someone.
*Introduce yourself to a new friend.
*Take turns without whining.
*Cheer someone on when he/she faces a challenge.
*Read a book with someone.
*Give help to someone who needs it.
*Compliment a mom about her children.
*Send a friend a card or note in the mail. NOT AN EMAIL.
*Make eye contact and smile at a stranger.
*Include instead of exclude people when planning a moms’ night out.
*Set up a date night with your partner.
*Invite a social media friend to meet up in real life.
*Spend time with your kids without your phone.
*Make your kid’s favorite treat…for no reason at all.
*Listen and don’t just give advice when someone is telling you about a problem.
*Only say kind things on the Internet.
*Treat someone to a coffee, tea….or even a cocktail.
*Call a friend on the phone instead of texting.
*The next time you see a parent dealing with a misbehaving kid, give whatever support you can provide.
*Teach someone how to make your favorite recipe.
*Introduce yourself to the other mom at the park.
It takes courage to be kind. Head over to the online Staples for Students Kindness Tree to share your own positive message and grow the virtual tree.
How will you spread kindness today?
Have a kind day!
Don’t miss a post…follow me on Blog Lovin’.