Right now, the news is full of stories about people behaving selfishly. There are plenty of bad actors doing things like hoarding disinfectant wipes to resell and refusing to be quarantined after a COVID-19 diagnosis.
But look closely and you’ll find myriad stories of people behaving kindly. People everywhere are using their windows to display children’s art and singing together from their balconies. All over the world, people are volunteering to help their communities in all kinds of ways — from dropping off groceries to fostering rescue dogs.
As we guide our children through the COVID-19 crisis, we have a unique opportunity to teach them about kindness. Here are five ways you can use this historic event to instill compassion in your children.
Share the good news
While you’re reading the latest news about the pandemic, keep an eye out for articles about acts of kindness. Take a minute during the day to share the stories with your children and talk about why it’s important to support others during difficult times.
Share positive messages
In my neighbourhood, families are writing things like “Thank you, delivery people!” and “We’re in this together!” in chalk on sidewalks and walkways. If asphalt art isn’t an option, kids can draw pictures and write messages on pieces of paper and tape them to a window. Some communities are even posting weekly themes for kids to follow.
Help a neighbour
Have your kids practice kindness IRL. This could include walking a neighbour’s dog, picking up litter from the neighbourhood, or leaving friendly notes in mailboxes. If your community has a social media presence, take a peek to see if anyone needs help with something. Keep social distancing in mind at all times, of course.
Show appreciation for the helpers
Talk with your kids about the important contributions of first responders and health-care workers during the crisis, but also of folks like delivery people, grocery store clerks, and custodians, who are still hard at work. While so many of us have the privilege of staying home, others are risking their own health as they keep our society running.
There are all kinds of ways you can get your kiddos to show appreciation. Earlier in the crisis, a friend and her kiddos delivered notes of thanks to helpers in their neighbourhood (police officers, pharmacists, and grocery workers) in her area. To maintain social distancing, consider taping notes to front windows or doors, or sending via snail mail. And, of course, there’s the crazy new thing called the Internet, so you can always photograph those messages and post on social media, too.
Donate to people in need
In my neighbourhood, a family recently put unmanned tables on their front lawn covered with free arts and craft materials for kids, like colouring books and packs of markers. They also set out a box to collect donations for our local food bank. This made for a great distraction for my daughter one afternoon and it felt good to give back, even if just a couple of canned goods from the back of the pantry.
But you needn’t do something this elaborate to teach kids about supporting important causes. Head online to give a few dollars to your area food bank, women’s shelter, SPCA, or any community organization hit hard by the pandemic. Even small sums are appreciated.