Have you ever had a discussion with your children about gift giving? Most children see the act of giving as customary at particular times of the year but do they really understand the reason behind giving a present?

If you haven't talked about the difference between giving for the sake of it and giving with meaning then perhaps it's time to explain the heart factor that should lie behind every gift we give. 

Gifts are a way of acknowledging someone and showing our appreciation for the positive attributes that we love about them. It's important for children to understand that a large, more expensive gift doesn't equate to greater appreciation. In fact, parents and grandparents in particular, generally appreciate homemade gifts far more than something bought because they know have been made with love and given from the heart.

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True story.

I have a little store and all sorts wander in the doors. I had a kid come in who said that he and his Grandma were homeless and living in their car. Now there is a local program called helping hands that sometimes can cough up some $ in these situations. So I was looking for the phone number of the local minister that could help them. I got really frustrated by the unhelpful phone book and slammed it down on the counter and…(wait for it)…The door opened and the Minister walked in. Serendipity or God at work, either way, just WOW! – Kathleen

In a talk he did for a charity fundraiser event whose goal was to "Create Positive Lives" scientist David Hamilton, PhD shares information about the science behind the feel-good emotions that are felt when giving an act of kindness. 

An honours degree in biological and medicinal chemistry, and a PhD in organic chemistry David worked as a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry developing drugs for cardiovascular disease and cancer for several years. Inspired by the placebo effect and his research into the mind–body connection he left the industry to educate people in how they can harness their mind and emotions to improve their health.

David is an advocate for kindness and is working passionately to help inspire a kinder world. He also co-founded an international relief charity.

Book Title:  The Watermelon Shield

Authors:  Rose and Hope McCallum

Illustrator:  mikemotz.com

For ages:  6-10 years (a good read for all ages)

Topics:  bullying, kindness, compassion, empathy, character development, juvenile self-help

Related learning areas:  social and emotional learning (SEL), well-being/self-confidence, communication/healthy boundaries

FREE DIGITAL DOWNLOAD from 5 December for 5 days! 

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Ho, ho, ho!! It's almost Christmas!!

Many of us are in denial that the festive season has arrived again SO SOON!! I'm pretty sure science hasn't proven it but I'm convinced that time goes faster the older we get! 

Though parents and teachers are usually pretty busy at the end of the year, it's actually a great time to get your kids involved in doing good. Encouraging kindness should, of course, be a year round endeavour because it's shown that after the fourth grade, positive perceptions of kindness decrease in children.  

Because we know you've got other things on your mind right now, we've put together a kindness advent calendar to help you nurture the positive values we all want our kids to adopt. 

The hard work has been done and all you have to do is inspire your kids to participate!

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How important are relationships in education? 

Rita Pierson, in her classic TEDTalk, says “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” I thoroughly agree and I would like it mandated that every teacher watches her talk every year!

I want to expand her sentiment to include student to student relationships.

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Aaron Stark had a painful and abusive childhood which almost ended in tragedy at his school. It was a not so extraordinary act of kindness and a strong and understanding childhood friend that changed his destructive mindset and saved his life.

After a decade of recovery and sharing his story, Aaron has been able to put the past behind him and dedicate himself to his family. He’s a man on a mission to use his very personal story of triumph to help other young people feeling lost and confused walk into the light. He wants to reassure those who are suffering that there are people who care and that they’re not alone.

This video highlights the importance of seeing and helping children in pain. Please do not see those who bully, those who are quiet and introverted or those who are needy as children who are trying to push your buttons. Take some time to investigate and find out how their needs are not being met and how you can make a difference.

 

This Christmas while you’re thinking about the gifts you’ll get for those you love, perhaps you could give one to a stranger in need.

When you’re living on the street, gifts are the last thing on your mind but as shown in this video, something that brings a great deal of joy. We hope you’re inspired to add an extra gift to your shopping list this year!

While checking out in the grocery store, I dropped a glass jar of artichokes. It shattered and glass flew everywhere with the oily liquid spewing. I was mortified. I immediately apologized.

The clerk calmly came around to clean it up, telling me it happens all the time (it was my first). It took quite a while to clean up. I apologized to the people in line after me, still feeling so terrible (of course, it was later in the evening so it was the only line open). A woman 2 people behind me asked what brand of artichokes I had and went to get another jar for me. The lady behind me said it’s ok and chatted with me about good recipes with artichokes.

Another worker came to help us finish cleaning up my nasty mess. All four of these strangers made me feel so blessed that I stopped feeling badly about what had happened.

The kindness of strangers! – Paula

Can kindness be taught? 

While researching for our school curriculum many years ago, I came across the work of Maurice J. Elias, a Professor of Psychology. His view about kindness being a teachable quality mirrors my own and like me, he's a huge advocate for teaching it in schools. 

Like me, he believes that children have an emotional response to kindness but that emotionally intelligent kids have a better understanding of the feelings they're experiencing. 

"Kindness depends also on possessing certain learnable skills, and these are included in most evidence-based efforts to promote children's social-emotional and character development."
- Maurice Elias

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Phrases like "random acts of kindness" and "pay it forward" have become popular terms in modern society. There are even special days dedicated to performing good deeds and organisations who specialise in altruism.

But why has kindness become so popular? Perhaps it's best explained by those who have identified a deficit in their lives that can only be filled by giving.

Science proves there are good reasons why so many of us can't get enough of those addictive, feel-good emotions. Research shows there are many physical, emotional, and mental health benefits associated with kindness. It's a powerful and free resource to reduce anti-social and bullying behaviour.

"Unlike previous generations, today's adolescents are victimizing each other at alarming rates leading adults to ask why."
- Shanetia Clark and Barbara Marinak

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A few years ago my husband was made redundant. It was a massive shock as he had always dedicated himself to the firm, we often joked that the firm came first and the 4 (at that time) children and I came a close second! It was a massive blow to my husband and although he understood the firm’s financial position, he was a little hurt. We are a couple who have always earned and paid our way, in fact, we pride ourselves in it. We are the couple who pays our bills first and tries to have a little fun with what is left afterward. Luckily we had redundancy and mortgage insurance for three months. I managed to make this last for six months. read more →