Teenagers (13-18)

Attitudes: Sharing a Good Attitude


Many moms are disappointed when their children don’t naturally show great kindness towards others or a good attitude, but these are actually skills that are learned and developed over time. So begin now by teaching your children how to share a good attitude with others and to treat others with kindness.

Why is kindness such an important character trait? According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation: “Kindness is one of the most powerful interpersonal tools that we, as human beings, use to connect with one another. When we sense someone’s need, we either choose to help in some way . . . or we choose not to. If we act from empathy, we will offer kindness, and in that moment a surprising, gracious, humanitarian connection is made. This is the positive power that each of us — including children — possess.”

Start this valuable character lesson by defining what kindness means to your children. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation defines it as: “When we go beyond duties that are expected of us and reach out to help another person or group of people…Kindness and empathy are very closely related: kindness is the observable expression of empathy. We sense another person’s need, we understand how it feels to be in need (due to our own past experience), and we decide to offer our help.”

Essentially, kindness is giving for the sake of giving, not in order to receive something in return. It is seeing a need and meeting it. It is maintaining a positive outlook and good attitude towards life, then sharing this good attitude with others.

So make kindness a family learning experience with these ideas from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation:

Discussions

Whether in the classroom or at the family dinner table, these topic starters will get your kids thinking about what kindness means:

  • Identify a person in history or a particular story that illustrates a kind, selfless act. Discuss how the act changed others and how the characters felt.
  • Ask your kids about a time when they hurt someone by being unkind or by displaying a bad attitude, and then have them role-play or write a story with a changed outcome.
  • Find quotes on kindness and good attitudes, and post them about your house — on the refrigerator, on the bathroom mirror, in your children’s lunchboxes.
  • Have a “You are special” time in your family, where everyone’s name is randomly drawn and something nice is said about them.
  • Have your family members share what kind acts they did that day. Then talk about how doing something nice made them feel, and how the other person responded.

 Service Projects

Serve others as a family, or even as part of a group of other neighborhood families, with these projects:

  • Collect canned goods for a local food bank.
  • Help serve dinner at a local homeless shelter.
  • Donate time at a senior citizen home.
  • Donate books to the library.
  • Spend an afternoon with a homebound person. Take the time to talk with them; see if they need any help with chores or running errands.
  • Bake a treat and deliver it to a police or fire station.
  • Offer to baby-sit for a single parent.

Environment

Kindness is not just about showing respect and care for humans, but for creation and animals, as well. Caring for the environment is a way to show kindness to everyone else who lives in it. Teach your children how pollution and trash affect the environment, and find a way to protect it together as a family. Ideas include:

  • Plant a tree.
  • Make a birdhouse together as a family project, then place it in your backyard. Or make a simple birdfeeder using a pinecone, peanut butter and birdseed.
  • Recycle. If your garbage pickup service doesn’t include recycling bins, find a local drop-off center.
  • Be energy-efficient. Turn off lights when not in use, don’t waste water, consider car-pooling to work and school.
  • Call a local animal shelter and find out what they are in need of. Then have your family help them out — it may be simply donating a few bags of dog food, or it may be donating time in caring for the animals.
  • Set aside a time each day to play with your pet. Get your whole family involved in running around the back yard with your dog or playing with your cat. Be sure your animals are clean and healthy.
  • In the summer, notify authorities immediately if you find a pet left in a hot car.
  • Cut up plastic six-pack rings before disposing of them so that animals don’t get caught in them.
  • Participate in beach cleanups.
  • “Adopt” an animal through a local zoo, aquarium or other organization.
  • Switch to a pet-safe antifreeze. Those containing propylene glycol have an appealing taste to animals; however it is fatal in very small doses (such as leaks on your driveway).
  • Clean up trash and refrain from littering. If you smoke, use your car’s ashtray, not the road, to dispose of your cigarette butts.

Simple Things

Sometimes sharing a good attitude through kindness is a quick action that simply shows others you are being thoughtful. Consider these simple ideas that you and your children can incorporate into your daily lives.

  • Open the door for another person.
  • Smile. Share a smile with family members, co-workers, and even strangers. A smile is a great way to boost someone’s day.
  • Pick up a piece of trash you see on the ground.
  • Encourage your children to show kindness at school. They can make a new student feel welcome; write a thank-you note to their teacher, principal or custodian; wave to their crossing guard; share their snack; or encourage a classmate who seems lonely or is having a bad day.
  • Help someone by picking up something they dropped.
  • Call a family member who lives far away and tell them you love them.
  • Do a chore without being asked.
  • Shovel snow, take out the garbage, rake the leaves or cook a dinner for your neighbor.
  • Take a box of donuts or flowers to work for your co-workers, or even for the office/business next to yours.
  • Take the time to listen to someone you know is having a bad day.
  • Tell your boss, co-worker, teacher, classmate or family member why you appreciate them.
  • Donate blood.
  • Write a thank you note to someone who has influenced your life: a mentor, a teacher, a family member.
  • Tip your restaurant server generously.
  • Pay for the person behind you in the fast food drive-thru or at the toll booth.
  • Give at least one compliment to somebody every day.

Source: Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

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