I’ve recently read the book Random Acts of Kindness by Kingma and Markova.  The foreword, in particular, resonated with me as I found that there was a critical piece to our kindness study that my students and I were seemingly missing.  Daphne Rose Kingma wrote, “The practice of kindness is the daily, friendly, homely caring form of love.  It is both humble…and exalted…Kindness is love with hands and hearts and mind.  It is both whimsical…and deeply touching…And its miraculous nature is such that the more acts of kindness we offer, the more of them we have to give, for acts of kindness are always drawn from the endless well of love.”

Likewise, in her introduction, Dawna Markova tells of speaking at workshops where she asked others to tell and write about random acts of kindness in their lives.  She found that while people were enthusiastic in sharing the stories of kindness that others had done for them, when she asked to consider the other side–the random acts of kindness they had performed in their lives, the room became silent as if people were afraid to breathe.   She observes, “I don’t believe this paralysis is due to compassion fatigue or lack of caring.  I believe we are trained to notice only deficits, only where we are stuck, only how we are suffering.  We are trained to believe we don’t matter and that we cannot make a difference.”

But we can.

Markova continues, “If violence and aggression are part of our human nature, then the opposite must also be true.  We just forget.  We are reminded many times a day of the darkest shadows we can cast.  We need also to reminded of the brilliant light we are capable of igniting.”

And all of that got me thinking.  As adults, we have been trained to acknowledge our counterparts, give applause to those around us, bow gratefully but give credit where credit is due.  Thus, we struggle to recognize our own good deeds.  However, children are nearly opposite.  They are proud, brilliant, unadulterated, and rarely hesitate to accept praise and appreciation. They often take the credit given to their colleagues, or try to “one up” their peers.  In fact, younger children are still struggling with the concept of reality and are likely to take on a story that is not even theirs.

My struggle with our lessons of kindness involved genuineness and sincerity.  In order for my students to experience the power of kindness, they first needed to complete an act of kindness that was truly an act of their own.  Not an example given during our class discussions, not something that their classmate did, and not something that their teacher read to them in a book…a genuine act of kindness performed on their own accord.  The lessons about kindness we have yet to complete are based on their ability to do such.

So, students were instructed to do something over their weekend that involved putting another first.  They were asked to complete an act of kindness that was unsolicited and unrewarded.  Something small, but memorable.  Something that, as one student worded it, “Makes your own heart smile.”

Here is their work:

My random act of kindness was Kimi dropped her stuff and I helpt her.  -Alysse

My random act of kindness was when someone opened the door for me and it was happy because I was caring a big pile of books.  –Delisha

Kindness is loving and family.  –Madison

I read a book to my little sister.  She loved it and she appreciated it.  – Lilly

My random act of kindness was at the grocery store.  I got a cart for my dad.  He said, “Thank you.”  -Brady

My random act of kindness was cleaning the dishes. – Ryan

My random act of kindness was opening the door for Malcomn in class today.  – Hope

My random act of kindness was helping my cat feel special. – Phaedra

My random act of kindness was when I found my mom’s credit card by the dryer set. –Malcomn

I did my mom’s bed without being asked.  I made my mom breakfast without being asked.  I did the dishes for her without being asked.  I did my bed without being asked. –Amari

My random act of kindness was opening the door for people.  It was for my mom and somebody, too.  It was at the bank.  It was on last Saturday.  My mom said “thank you” and the other smiled. –Nathan

When I helped my mom and dad watch the new baby while they cleaned the house.  I put her to sleep and sang a song to her.  I love her so much. –Michael

My random act of kindness was washing the dishes.  My dad was in his room and so was my brother, Alex.  It was just my mom and me.  She took a break and I did the dishes.  I said, “Don’t do the dishes.  I’ll do them.” –Ananda

My random act of kindness as making somebody have their heart feel good. –Elliot

My random act of kindness was making someone feel better. –Jadon

My random act of kindness was helping my mom clean the dishes.  –Heaven

My random act of kindness is writing notes to everybody.  I love writing to my friends most.  –Averie

You can make someone smile.  You can make them a Valentine card. –Damaj

My random act of kindness was carrying groceries for my mom.  –Ka’Lani

My random act of kindness was taking care of a turtle.  –Justin

My random act of kindness was helping my mommy with the dishes and washing and putting them in the dish washer and putting them away.  -Samantha