A Snow Blizzard of Kindness

Beth Pinyerd

This past Christmas I spent 11 wonderful days with my son, Gus, and his wife Alison in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Each year at Christmas I have prayed to see a little snow when visiting my only child, but this year I received enough snow for many years’ worth of wishes. Grand Rapids was hit with a snow blizzard they had not seen and endured for several years. Many inches of snow, ice and low temperatures greeted my Alabama boots when I landed there. My arthritic bones were also greeted cruelly by the cold weather!

As I hopped into my son’s warm car over Christmas, my first thought was, “How am I going to endure this cold challenge?” But quickly my son, who has lived in Grand Rapids for six years now, put me at ease when he said, “Mom, folks in Grand Rapids are used to this and know how to get around.” So, instead of worrying and complaining about the cold weather, I decided to start thinking about gratitude to God for the cold weather. I know my Alabama friends kept texting me about how cold Lee County was during Christmas. 

My thoughts turned to how we can teach young children acts of kindness during these winter months of cold, ice and snow. I noticed as we were driving to my son’s home that folks who live in cold climates have to be absolutely polite, respectful and patient in driving on ice and snow. This is a lesson that can be pointed out and taught to young children as they wait their turn to speak to their parents or each other.

In the early childhood classroom, patience is practiced daily. When young students wait their turn to interact in learning centers, raise their hands to answer questions during lessons, line up to go outside or go to the lunchroom, patience skills are practiced. As parents and teachers, we need to praise children when they are showing patient behavior. Children are especially encouraged by praise. Young children are learning, and they are good observers of behavior. As adults, when we model patience, children want to imitate us. As parents and teachers we also have to remember to be patient with young children as they finish tasks and activities.

As we drove slowly into my son’s driveway, I noticed neighbors were already out in the middle of the snow to check on each other. When the snow would take spells of not falling, neighbors would get out with snowplows and help each other make walkways in the snow. Also, if cars or trucks got stuck in the snow, neighbors would come out and help each other push vehicles out of the snow. During a time that could be very hard on families, neighbors were coming together to show random acts of kindness.

I noticed young children in the neighborhood trying their best to help, too. Young children are very sensitive to extending random acts of kindness to others. When acts of kindness are modeled in front of them, they quickly catch on.

Guiding young children to hold the door open for others is such a delightful responsibility for young children. A big grin stretches across their faces when they are properly thanked. I absolutely love to hear a young child wish me a good day with no prompting or probing. For us parents, grandparents and teachers, to receive a child-made card of happiness is a delight; it’s a child’s way of expressing happiness straight from their hands and hearts.

One very simple way of keeping up with random acts of kindness is to have a gratitude board. This can be done on a dry erase board, small chalkboard, piece of paper or poster board. When you catch your young child doing something kind, record it by writing or drawing a simple picture of what your child has done. When you record their act of kindness, explain to them why you recorded it. You can do this too as a whole family by recording what different members of the family do as acts of kindness and come together for family discussion.

Planning kindness projects with your children, such as preparing and taking warm meals to a family who has been sick or in need, is a wonderful lesson for children to feel and model kindness. 

It may be helping another family or doing chores. These acts of kindness not only help the recipients, but they also help you and your child. Actions of kindness teach the heart of a young child to reach out to others with love, which truly can melt away the winter blues.

On my last night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, before coming home, I looked out of my bedroom window at the snowy neighborhood where I had celebrated Christmas with my family for 11 days. One thing that really brought a smile to my heart was the warmth of bright lights shining from every house down the street. These neighborhood families had definitely shown this Alabama mom acts of kindness during a challenging time, even up to the time of helping my son dig his car out of the snow to take his Mom to the airport to return to Alabama!

Happy New Year to everyone as we look forward to 2023 — a year of hope and love for children!

Classroom Observer

Beth Pinyerd


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