Below is the next installment in the popular series on Random Acts of Kindness. Each month, a blogger shares the random acts of kindness they have committed with their little ones. You can visit the Random Acts of Kindness page to see previous installments of this series. You can also follow the Random Acts of Kindness Pinterest Board.
Today’s post comes to us from my friend Giselle Shardlow, author of Kids Yoga Stories. Her yoga-inspired children’s books get children moving, learning, and having fun. Giselle draws from her experiences as a teacher, traveler, yogi, and mom to write her stories found at Kids Yoga Stories or on Amazon worldwide.
“Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu.”
I’ve been singing this Sanskrit chant to my daughter before bedtime since she was a newborn. It is a yogi prayer that translates to: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute to that happiness and that freedom for all.”
My daughter, who is two years old, has starting singing along with me. Her sweet singing warms my heart. I can’t help but wonder if she somehow understands the intention of the words.
As a mom, I’ve thought a lot about how to raise a kind and happy child. I have been focusing not only on our actions together but on kindness as a way of being. I’ve been asking myself how we can cultivate kindness into our everyday lives no matter where we are or what we are doing. I am inspired by the yogi prayer to foster kindness through what we think, say, and do.
Acts of Kindness through Thoughts, Words, and Actions:
Thoughts: Notice the negative thoughts that run around your “monkey mind.” Being a parent is an exceptionally challenging role. Add in the responsibilities of work, house, and family, and we often find ourselves being unkind to ourselves and the ones closest to us. One way to positively channel your thoughts is through a loving-kindness meditation. Imaginations: Fun Relaxation Stories and Meditations for Kids has a lovely loving-kindness visualization story that you can read to your children.
Loving Kindness story in the Imaginations book
The story takes the child through a series of questions that helps them focus on their own feelings and then encourages them to send loving kindness out to various people in their lives. Spiritual Survival in the City by Katie Spiers has a loving-kindness guide for adults. The meditation recommends starting by thinking of yourself as happy and healthy, then send loving kindness to a loved one, then someone you don’t know very well, next to someone who is a negative source in your life, and lastly to all living beings. Jack Kornfield also has a guide for a loving-kindness meditation on his website. He offers retreats and workshops around the United States.
Being kind starts with thoughts. Take time every day to cultivate positive thinking.
Words: Be aware of your language. It can be harsh, negative, or damaging, especially when you’re frustrated or feeling bad about yourself. Lashing out at family members is easy when you’re stressed or worried. Instead of getting angry, stop and take a deep breath. Breathe regularly and allow your breath to calm your emotions. Then be kind to yourself and others by saying something positive and constructive.
Make a habit of expressing kindness with your family every day. For example, you might have a ritual at dinnertime where each family member expresses what he or she is grateful. Or each person might say something kind about another person. You could also write in a gratitude or kindness family journal. Or post a whiteboard in your kitchen with kind thoughts for each day. We are our children’s best role models. They watch us as we say thank you, give compliments, make phone calls to loved ones overseas, or chat with close friends. Our words create our world. Help your children express their kindness and compassion through language.
My husband and daughter bonding by the river
Actions: Have you ever noticed that when you do something kind for another, it comes back to you tenfold? Kindness seems to attract more kindness. Acts of kindness can be directed at ourselves, others around us, or our natural surroundings. For example, here are Fifteen Acts of Kindness to inspire you, including giving yourself some “me” time, sending thank you cards, and committing to earth-friendly practices.
Once you have talked to your children about their kind thoughts and words, their acts of kindness come from a positive foundation. Some children may feel awkward or as if they were forced to engage in service projects. If we talk to them about the purpose of those projects and how their actions make a difference, then they can begin to understand why volunteering plays a big role in our society. Their acts of kindness can be practiced throughout the year, not just at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Though doing service projects with your children during festive times is an excellent way to introduce them to projects that bring a greater good.
And random acts of kindness are often the most fun and free-spirited ones. Children are spontaneous creatures, and starting them out with random kindness might entice them to do more. Encourage them to hold open a door for someone, thank a police officer or veteran, or buy flowers for a neighbor. Sometimes, being kind needs no preparations at all. Keep your eyes and hearts open for opportunities for kindness all around.
Our daughter helping to clean the dishes
How can you bring kindness into your life today through your thoughts, words, or actions?