Another View: Teaching lessons of kindness to my son
“There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.
“Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another.
“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors - in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”
- Fred Rogers
There are many traits I hope to instill in my son, Benjamin. Hard work, honesty, empathy and determination are a few. Another important quality to teach is kindness - kindness to himself, kindness to those he knows and kindness to those he does not know.
Often, when Ben, who is almost 4 years old, has struggles, meltdowns or confusions or needs direction, I pull a lesson from the children’s television show “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” This show is a spinoff of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” starring Rogers, whose famous quotes are listed above.
At the end of November, I came up with a way to teach Ben even more lessons of being kind, of which Rogers is a true model. I created a 24-days-of-kindness project for Ben and myself.
The project started Dec. 1, 2020 and continued until Dec. 24, 2020. Each day, we did one act of kindness.
Some of those acts included simple things like making and mailing a card for a friend, tossing old carrots in our backyard for the animals who visit there and donating a children’s book from his own collection.
Others required more work and money. Ben took out $1.21 from his piggy bank and, together with my contribution, we made a donation to Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative. Other days included buying water, snacks and cleaning supplies for our mail carrier and the personnel of Whitehall police and fire departments.
On Dec. 24, 2020 - our last day - we paid the bill of the driver behind us at Starbucks in Hanover Township, Lehigh County. As a perfect ending to the project, the Starbucks employee treated Ben to a chocolate cake pop, his favorite sweet from the eatery, showing him that sometimes kindness is given in return.
I got to explain to Ben when you are kind to others, it many times inspires those same people to show kindness in their own way. The more kindness people show to others, the better our world is for everyone.
Being kind to others makes you feel happy and joyful. Showing kindness to and seeing that appreciation in others warms your heart. Doing a kind act for someone is what helps fill our world with love and compassion.
When I asked Ben what his favorite kindness day was, he said, “Making breakfast for Daddy.” He also really enjoyed visiting with Whitehall police and fire personnel, who were so kind and gracious to us as well.
When I asked Ben how he felt each day after doing an act, some words he used were “nice,” “kind,” “good” and “sweet.”
If I had one word to describe this project, it would be “thankful.” I am thankful I was creative in coming up with this idea, thankful Ben was willing and excited to participate, thankful to have the means to go out and buy items for the goody bags and thankful to be able to see Ben learn from and grow with this project. It also reminded me a small gesture could make someone’s day - or even week.
I think Ben had a fun time doing this project and learned the importance of being kind. At the end, he was a bit sad when it was over. He will be happy to know I will probably make this an annual project for us.
Giving and showing kindness to others in December, when we receive a lot from family and friends, will provide the perfect opportunity for us to help further the good in this world.