Peaceful Parenting: Make a Kindness Jar

With 9 & 10 year old siblings, a fair amount of bickering and unkindness occurs in our household.   Having tried (and failed!) a variety of different ideas, we came across an idea last year that helped them keep kindness top of mind.

Inspired by this Good Deed Jar, we took the idea of a Kindness Jar and made it our own.   A few weeks before Easter, we set out a bowl of beans.   For each act of kindness  that anyone in the family witnessed or performed, a bean was placed in our Kindness Jar.   For each unkind word or act, two beans were taken out and placed back in the bowl.

Before we started, we had a fantastic discussion of what acting in love looks like at every age.

For my toddler it could mean:

–             Helping Mommy pick up his toys

–             Saying Thank You

–             Giving Hugs

 For my big kids it could mean:

–             Not arguing with their siblings

–             Paying someone a compliment

–             Helping their teacher at school

–             Doing a chore without being asked to

–             Holding a door open for a stranger at a store

–             Helping the neighbors take their garbage cans in

 For Mom & Dad it could mean:

–             patience

–             putting a special note in their lunch

–             taking a meal to a friend

The twist to take the beans out was added to show them that unkindness does a lot more damage than one small act of kindness.   And that it takes a pattern of acting in love, to build up something big, like character.

Of course, the first few days, my kids were on their best behavior, noticing all that everyone did (and then some) in the hopes to earn as many beans as possible.   But as time went on, they forgot about the potential to earn and started to act nicely towards one another.   I would over hear them working together to help their younger brother build a train track (2 beans “ one for each!) and see them pull our neighbors garbage can up the driveway (out of the blue!). Only occasionally did beans have to be taken out of the jar.

When Easter came, the beans that were in the Kindness Jar magically  turned into jelly beans overnight! We took this fun opportunity to discuss over Easter Dinner how it felt to do an act of love and service, what did others do in response to their kindness, and asked them both to continue.

My hope is that the Kindness Jar encouraged my kids to act kindly in a genuine way and helped show them the rewards that being kind to one another can give.

24 Comments

  1. Wonderful! I can’t wait to see it!

  2. We love these sort of activities! We do “kindness rocks” at our house and they are so awesome for encouraging my kids (and me) to do kind acts! Thanks for the reminder!

  3. We have a kindness jar, too! It really helps my son, 11 and who has Aspergers (on the autism spectrum) think outside his narrow focus. If it doesn’t benefit/disturb him, he usually doesn’t think of the effects of his words and actions on others. With a goal like filling the kindness jar, he has a reason for saying or doing kind things for others. Like other learned social skills, he has created some new good habits from it!

    Love your idea of taking two out instead of one for something unkind. Will do that with ours now, too. Thanks!

  4. I love this sooooo much! I think I might implement this and have a fun family outing when the jar gets full. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Such a great idea. I love the lesson about how hurful mean words can be. For kids to physically see the effect is powerful!

  6. I love the Kindness Rocks idea – a great way to continue it throughout the year!

  7. Wow – what an impact that must make on him and your whole family. I love it – thanks so much for sharing!

  8. And it works too – it may start off as a bribe for more jelly beans, but lasts much longer in their hearts!

  9. What a wonderful idea – and yes, good point about showing how unkindness can hurt.

    Thanks for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!

    Maggy & Alissa

  10. What a fantastic idea. I love the two out for unkind things. I bet that makes a real impact.

  11. I will share this idea with our families at our dojo….you just reached about 400 families with this idea and lesson. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I am totally incorporating this idea for my kids this Easter…and keeping it going for the rest of the year too!! This is being featured today at {Junk in their Trunk}…thanks for linking up!!

  13. I LOVE this idea! Having four kids now between age 10 and 6 months I know oh so well how easily a house gets full with arguing and loud discussions and so far, which meand that the noise level gets louder and louder and all the small, silent little things of goodness like patience, support, gratefulness and all that get more and more under… I definitely will try this! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Bora from Switzerland

  14. lovely idea! cant wait to try it on my class of preschooler s…

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