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Random Acts of Kindness

Valentine’s Day often finds us expressing our love for family and friends by presenting cards and gifts, and that’s a lovely tradition. When I was in elementary school, the idea was to exchange Valentines with our classmates, and the rule was that each child had to bring a Valentine for each and everyone in the class. No exceptions. Likely that’s why old fashioned Valentines came in cellophane wrapped boxes of more than enough for a class full of kiddos. I recall complaining about having to give cards to everyone, even those I was sure I did not like and definitely would not want “to be my Valentine.” My mother, of course, agreed with the teacher and made sure I had a Valentine for every classmate.

That was an early lesson in being kind. Did you know that Random Acts of Kindness Week begins on Valentine’s Day? That strikes me as perfect timing. What better day to launch a week – that hopefully begins a life time – of practicing acts of kindness? What better time to talk to our children about kindness and how being kind makes our world a better one for all of us?

Let’s explore with our children what being kind means and how we can be warm hearted, friendly, and generous-spirited, considerate, and sympathetic to the needs of others. A smile, a greeting, a compliment, pausing to hold the door for someone are all acts of kindness easily incorporated into our busy lives.

Talk with your children and together decide what acts of kindness each of you can do, then go out and “walk the talk.” Later gather for dinner and share your adventures of walking in kindness. The discussion will likely be lively, and everyone will likely agree that a day practicing random acts of kindness feels so much better than a day spent being grumpy and rude.

We’d like to hear your stories. Let us know your experiences in sharing Random Acts of Kindness Week with your family.

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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One Resolution, Untold Benefits

Yikes! Here we are once again welcoming new year. How quickly the 365 days, 52 weeks, and 12 months of 2009 swept past, leaving me dazed. Actually I am feeling the same about how quickly we arrived at the beginning of the tenth year of our “new” century. How about you?

I have been thinking also about the tradition of making new year’s resolutions. Rare are those who take time to plan how those resolutions will become reality, and rarer still those who resolve, strategize, and accomplish their goals.

Still the new year is a fresh beginning, and we all have feelings about ways we could improve our lives. Perhaps making only one resolution and keeping it simple would improve our chances of success. With that in mind, I began thinking of small gestures that reap big rewards. Here’s one, and I’ll beat we all learned it from our parents early on: treat everyone we meet the way we’d like to be treated.

Doing our best to live this way enhances our lives and the lives of those with whom we interact. Granted, we’ll not always succeed. Doing our best does not guarantee perfection after all, but the more we practice, the better we become. Imagine what we’d be teaching the children in our lives by acting on this one resolution. Think what a positive contribution we’d be making towards creating a better world for all of us. One resolution, untold benefits.

This resolution is easy to keep until someone we encounter “pushes a button” and activates our “two can play that game” response center. Then we have to struggle to remember our resolution, pause before reacting, and respond consciously to the situation. When we do, we exercise control and diffuse rather than escalate a negative encounter. We cannot control the “offender,” but we have a choice about how we react, and that makes all the difference.

So I invite you to join us in resolving to consciously treat others the way we want others to treat us, even when we’d rather not, maybe even especially when we’d rather not. I know we’ll be “tested.” I know sometimes our best will not be enough to turn a negative situation around, but I also know first-hand the rewards of pausing before reacting.

We’d like to know what you think about the tradition of making resolutions. If you could make only one new year’s resolution, what would it be? How would you plan for success in keeping the resolution? Do you think perhaps the act of making resolutions is more about wishes than wish fulfillment? Do we perhaps overwhelm ourselves by making too many resolutions or fail to devise a strategy for achieving our goals?

We look forward to hearing from you and getting to know you better in 2010.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play