A few weeks ago I shared with you all a kindness project I was doing with my kids. I was seeing so much negativity I really wanted to try to do something about it. I asked the kids to try to do one kind thing each day, then they'd come in and journal about what they did, how it made them feel, and how it made others feel. I selected a few great examples each day and gave the kids pride cards they can turn in for treats at our school. I didn't push it, but encouraged it. Throughout the two weeks I saw some kids really rising to the occasion, some that are always nice who were excited to see others jump on board, and some not take it seriously. After a few weeks I told them I wasn't going to ask them to continue each day and share with me, but I hoped they would continue.
I saved all their kindness journals and passed them back and had them take a look at what they'd written. Then, I had the kids fill out a little questionnaire about if they think they took it seriously, if they felt kinder, if the school felt kinder, and it they'd try to continue to be kind. In general the results were kind of what I expected, some kids said they took it seriously, some said they didn't. Some said the both they and the school felt kinder, some didn't. My biggest reaction was to the last question though about if they'd try to continue doing acts of kindness. 99% of kids said they wanted to, because it made a difference and they wanted our world to be better.
These results kind of gave me pause, even the kids who said they didn't take the kindness project seriously said they wanted to keep going and be kind. It's like they know it's important and valuable, but then they get so wrapped out in themselves they forget about others. I was hoping this project would help with that. I know for some kids it truly did, and I did see some big changes in a few kids, but we're still not all there yet.
Unfortunately, I don't think my seventh graders are that much different than the rest of the world. We can get so caught up in "our" plans and "our" agenda we forget the one simple moral "rule" pretty much everyone agrees on- treat others as you want to be treated. But if we don't look up and take off our horse blinders we won't see how how we can treat others kindly.
Ultimately I think it all goes back to Jesus, who did the ultimate act of kindness in sacrificing himself for us. John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world he gave his only son, and whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life." If we fix our eyes on Jesus I think he can help point us in the direction of those who need our help. Those who need our kindness. Our world will never be perfect, but we are here for a reason, or else the second we believe in Jesus we'd just drop dead and he'd cart us off to heaven. I alone may not be able to change the world, but I can do something, as we all can.
I'm hoping to end the year on a good note with my kids and hoping the idea of being kind sticks with them. I'm working to make it stick with me too.
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