The Kindness of Children

Last week when I visited the fifth grade where I volunteer, the kids were deep into a math/art project. They were each making a mobile that demonstrated something about fractions. It involved tying tiny knots and balancing cards hung from strings along a dowel. Soon it was evident that some kids were better at the knot tying and others at the balancing. Small groups gathered as they helped each other. Along with fractions came this other, more important lesson. A spirit of cooperation prevailed.

It’s just one reason I love hanging out with kids. That kindness thing.

I have benefited greatly from the kindness of children. Like the letter from a second grader who wrote: “Here’s an idea. Zelda and Ivy go to the movies. You can take it from there.”

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Perhaps you are flailing around for a character. Here are some extra characters offered to me by a student at Sharpstein Elementary in Walla Walla, which I, in turn, offer to you:

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I have been listening to Martin Seligman’s book on the psychology of happiness, Flourish. One of his ideas for increasing your happiness is to plan and carry out an act of kindness. Research shows that such actions boost your sense of well-being. I think the fifth graders whose nimble fingers tied knots and balanced mobiles experienced that.

I know that children also have a great capacity for cruelty. But today I am thinking about kindness and wondering if you have any thoughts or stories to add to mine.

10 responses to “The Kindness of Children

  1. Beautiful post, Laura. Thank you!

  2. Laura, thank you, again, for another beauty.

  3. Thank you for this wonderful post. I just love the way this kid offers you her/his characters in case they ‘inspier’ you. They definitely inspired me!

  4. Two grand boys, Finn, 5 and Eion, 2 years old, reading in bed. Eion crawls across the mattress to have his big brother read to him. All goes well until Eion tries to read to Finn. . Finn socks him and tells him that HE will do the reading. Eion cries and crawls back to his mattress. Teary sad looks are exchanged. Finn says he is sorry and “I love you, Eion”. Eion says, “Sorry Finn, I wove you.”. Lights out – goodnight!

  5. Maybe someday acts of kindness won’t have to be called out. Maybe they’ll just be acts. Lovely piece, Laura.

  6. The arts non-profit where I work was surprised to receive a donation from a 9 year old girl who, rather than ask for presents for her birthday, asked for donations to help less fortunate kids have access to art. She wrote a lovely letter to us: http://www.artscorps.org/2012/05/letter-from-hannah-age-9/
    It still gives me goosebumps!

  7. Thanks for telling us about this, Hillary. And way to go, Hannah! What better gift to underwrite than art supplies?

  8. Thank you, Laura. Just lovely…. A perfect thing for a Monday morning smile.

  9. Barbara McElfish

    We have a Sparrow Club here at school where the children have ‘adopted’ a fellow student who has an inoperable brain tumor. They earn money (from sponsors) for the family by doing community service (acts of kindness). It’s just starting, but already we are seeing the fruit.

  10. I love the idea of the Sparrow Club. Thanks for chiming in, Barb.

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