At brunch yesterday, my friend Suzanne told me about how she is making a difference in her family this summer, and I knew we needed to share this idea. She has initiated The Kindness Challenge with her family this summer.
After a few rough first days of summer vacation, with kids (ages 10, 5 and 3) poking and picking at each other, irritating each other just because they could, Suzanne had had enough. It wasn’t going to be like this all summer. So she prayed and talked with her husband Tim to make a plan. Out of this moment of crisis came The Kindness Challenge – How 40 Days of Kindness Can Change a Family (Think of it as The Love Dare for the whole family).
Finding it easier to break the challenge into weeks, here is her plan (in Suzanne’s words):
Week 1 – Change starts at the Top. We as parents commit to always speaking kindly to the kids (and each other for that matter), to praying daily for each child’s specific needs, to having continuous daily conversations about kindness, and to doing small acts of kindness unique for each child.
Week 2 – Get big brother on board. It’s time to build kindness skills in the oldest child. Because there is an age gap between him and the other two, it is important to teach kindess lessons on his level. This includes daily one-on-one discussions on kindness, such as what the Bible says about kindness, why it’s easier to be kind to strangers than your family, and how to be kind to someone who isn’t kind back.
Week 3 – It’s a family affair. Blessed to have a full week with Dad at home, we are planning daily family activities with a focus on building family unity and encouraging kindness to one another. Activities include, picking berries (sharing in God’s delicious provision by working together), hiking (each child having a turn to lead), Lego building challenge (how big can we build if we use all of our Lego sets together), etc. Kids will each have a special one-on-one time with Dad during the week. We will also start learning Bible verses on kindness each week.
Week 4 – Kindness School. A full week of lessons and activities on kindness. Using Bible stories and other stories familiar to the kids, we will learn different ways to be kind and show kindness. Kids will work together to create a book about kindness.
Week 5 – Putting it into practice. Family members will draw a family member’s name each day and do a special act of kindness for that person. Family members will sign a Kindness Contract, committing to a lifestyle of kindness. Dinner conversations will focus on recognizing kind moments shared that day.
Week 6 – Beyond our walls. Family will plan and perform service projects and kindness activities for others outside our family. On day 40, we will have a celebratory dinner and enjoy the fruits of our efforts – a kinder, more peaceful, loving family.
Some Bible verses on kindness: Proverbs 21:21; Proverbs 31:25-27; Micah 6:8; Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:12-13.
What a great challenge to all of us to show kindness to our family members and then to reach out with kindness to others!