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50 Random Acts of Kindness for Kids and Families

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Back in December, my family got socked. When I stepped outside to check the mail one day, there was a stocking hanging on our door. In it were a few small treats and gifts with an anonymous note encouraging us to restuff the stocking and share it with someone else. My daughter just about lost her mind! She was excited about the gifts (a tea towel! a bag of microwave popcorn! miniature Reese’s cups!), but she was so much more excited about getting to sock someone else. When I saw that Random Acts of Kindness Day is coming up on February 17th, I immediately thought that the most randomly kind thing I could do for her was celebrate a little early by putting together a list of kid-friendly random acts of kindness so that she should celebrate on the 17th. Here’s the list so you can join us!

These first ideas are really kid-friendly. They’re things that most kids—even young ones—can do pretty independently. They are free or cost very little money.

  1. Tuck a dollar bill with a note on a shelf at the dollar store or in Bullseye’s Playground at Target.
  2. Surprise a far-away relative with phone call or video chat.
  3. Leave a note in the pocket of clothes at a store saying something like, “This looks great on you!” or, if you don’t want to focus on appearances, another inspirational message.
  4. Read someone a story.
  5. Donate gently-used books that aren’t being read anymore to a local school library, public library, or shelter.
  6. Leave toys or a new bottle of bubbles at your local park for other kids to enjoy. (Be sure to leave a note—otherwise if someone like me finds them, I’ll try to teach my kid to be kind by avoiding taking someone else’s forgotten stuff!)
  7. Say hello to someone you’ve never talked to before.
  8. Tape some quarters to a vending machine.
  9. Make a big thank-you poster for your sanitation workers and tape it to the lid of your trash/recycling bins.
  10. Give someone a compliment.
  11. Use a travel mug or reusable water bottle.
  12. Say thank you to all the adults at school: administrative staff, custodial staff, cafeteria workers, teachers, bus drivers, and any other helpers.
  13. Make a treat for your local first responders’ station.
  14. Create a drawing or painting to send to a family member you haven’t visited with in a while.
  15. Write a story about a friend and share it with them.
  16. Invite someone new to play with you at recess.
  17. Make a bookmark and leave it in a library book for someone to find.
  18. Tell someone how much you love them.
  19. Return a cart for someone at the store.
  20. Talk to someone who’s sitting alone.
  21. Don’t complain for one whole day.
  22. Do a chore at home that’s not usually yours to do.
  23. Hold the door for someone.
  24. Find a way to support someone in something that’s important to them. (Donate your allowance to their fundraising cause. Go to their recital or sporting event. Listen to them talk about a favorite hobby.)
  25. Shovel your neighbor’s front walk.
  26. Ask someone how their day is.
  27. Use reusable bags at the grocery store.
  28. Put out a birdfeeder for the birds.
  29. After it rains, use a towel to dry the slides and swings and your local park.
  30. Compliment a friend to their parents.
  31. Tape a bag of microwave popcorn to a DVD rental machine.
  32. Sneak a nice note into a classmate’s backpack.
  33. Make a card or write a letter for an organization like Operation Gratitude, who will help your letter get to a first responder, veteran, new recruits, or soldier.
  34. Pick up litter.
  35. Let someone else go first.
  36. Share a treat with someone.
  37. Surprise a friend with a card or note in the mail—even if it’s someone who you see all the time.
  38. Send a thank-you note to a place that you like to go: your local library, a favorite restaurant, a movie theater, a store, your childcare provider, your gym or dance studio—just let them know you appreciate them.
  39. Smile.
  40. Give a lollipop to the teller the teller at the bank or to the person who cuts your hair.

Here are some ideas that families can do together. Some of them may cost a little bit more than the previous ideas, but one way to get the whole family in on the act is to get everyone to agree to a small “sacrifice.” For example, if your family, like mine, goes out for pizza every Friday, get everyone to agree one week that you’ll secretly buy another table’s meal that week and the following Friday you’ll make pizza at home instead.

  1. Put out a tub with snacks and bottled beverages for your mail carrier and delivery drivers.
  2. Make or purchase scarves, hats, and gloves to donate.
  3. Secretly buy someone dinner. If you like this idea, but can’t buy a whole meal, purchase a gift card to be anonymously delivered to someone’s table.
  4. Invite a neighbor over for a meal.
  5. Contact your school or school district and ask if you can help by donating supplies.
  6. Pay for someone behind you at a drive-through.
  7. Call your local food pantry and ask what they need. Then donate what you can.
  8. Leave a diaper-emergency kit at a public diaper changing station.
  9. Make a dinner gift basket with all the supplies needed for a meal and deliver it to a neighbor or friend.
  10. Donate coloring books and supplies to a local shelter.

Share your ideas for random acts of kindness in the comments!

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