I had an interesting moment of discovery a few weeks ago. My daughter attends in-home daycare, a place she absolutely loves. Often times they go for an afternoon walk and each day that I pick her up she gives me something new that she collected for me on her walk. Sometimes it’s leaves, sometimes it’s flowers and other times it’s just a random assortment of nature related things.
At first I would hold on to what she gave me but then as this continued to happen Monday through Friday I was kind of getting annoyed. I know that sounds crazy to say when your child is doing a nice gesture but she was really intense about making SURE I put my nature gifts in the car and my car was getting even messier than it already is. I never told her to not collect things for me – it was an internal issue on my part, a silly one in retrospect.
Then one day it dawned on me – she’s collecting things for me because I’ve been teaching her that doing nice things for other people makes them happy! Oh my gosh she understands what I’ve been working on teaching her! And each day when she goes out on that walk she thinks of me. She thinks about wanting her mommy to be happy. And every single day that she’s able to play outside she RUNS to me when she sees me to give me whatever she’s collected.
Photo taken by my 3-year-old. She made me this little bouquet!
Once I realized that this daily gesture was really about her learning from our various random acts of kindness adventures (in which we always give flowers out to strangers to “make them happy”) my heart just about exploded. Parenting can be tough in the sense that you don’t usually see instant results from the lessons you try to teach your children but when you do finally realize that they’re getting it you’re just overcome with pride. And she’s getting it. She’s getting it!
A few photos from our past kindness adventures – no wonder she loves flowers!
For our family, practicing kindness is and has been a priority. Watching my daughter blossom and really begin to understand why it’s important to be kind has been such an absolute gift. Instead of getting frustrated by the amount of random flowers/leaves/acorns/grass my car accumulates, I was able to shift my thinking and focus instead on what a WONDERFUL thing it is to have a car full of gifts my daughter selected specifically for me.
“Mommy I’m a kind girl!” she likes to say and each time I hear those words I can’t help but smile ear-to-ear.
For ideas about things you can do to encourage your child to develop a heart of kindness check out our sister site – TeachingKindness.com.