Nov 052012


Children’s birthdays and random acts of kindness

Have you heard of the Birthday Project? Robyn Bomar, with the help of her husband, her three daughters and her husband’s parents, celebrated her 38th birthday with 38 random acts of kindness. She subsequently launched The Birthday Project with the mission to create a shift in the way people from all walks of life think about and celebrate their birthday – changing the world one birthday at a time.

What a wonderful tradition this would make for helping children develop kindness and generosity.

Birthdays can be exciting times for children, full of partying and gifts. Sometimes the anticipation and build-up to the day is almost more than one small child can bear. I’m not suggesting that any of that change. Continue with the fun and celebration. But how about adding another dimension to the experience?

One random act of kindness for each year. Parents guiding children and helping plan specific age-appropriate acts of kindness, encouraging children to identify acts on their own. The tradition could likely begin as young as 2 or 3 years of age. Kindness does not belong to any one age category.

Part of the anticipation for the birthday might now be directed to developing the list of kindness acts. The list could be used as a back-up plan, looking for and being open to other opportunities that present themselves, ones that could not have been planned for. This might help develop eyes to see the opportunities not just on birthdays, but throughout the year, and build the ability to look beyond one’s self.

Family life is busy. The day of the birthday itself may already be a frantic schedule of activities. As the children get older, it may become more difficult to squeeze in all those acts. Perhaps the acts could be completed in the days leading up to the birthday, like a countdown calendar.

Many of the things Robyn did are appropriate for children. Other ideas are listed on The Birthday Project. Here is a sampling, with a couple of my own ideas thrown in.

  • Read to a younger sibling
  • Do a sibling’s chore
  • Return carts at a grocery store or shopping mall
  • Load bags of groceries into shopping carts for people
  • Hand out balloons to small children shopping with their parents
  • Take thank you cards and donuts to the local police station or fire hall
  • Write thank you cards to people who have made a difference
  • Bake cookies for a teacher or neighbour
  • Donate clothes to a homeless shelter
  • Take in a neighbour’s garbage can
  • Mow, rake or shovel a neighbour’s lawn
  • Brush fresh snow off a neighbour’s car in the morning (this would be particularly appreciated in colder climes)
  • Deliver balloons to hospital patients

What do you think? Have you done this? Would you? Is this is a good idea? Would this help develop year-round kindness or does it relegate kindness to a special once-in-a-while gesture?

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