Inside: Use this classic game to encourage kindness in your kids and they’ll be trying to get three in a row.
The other day was my best friend’s son’s 12th birthday. My daughter has been friends with him since they were 4 years old in preschool together.
They used to play both in and out of school and enjoyed each other’s company…Board games, on the slide, and playing hide and go seek.
But now that they’re in middle school and hormonal tweens, they never spend time together unless our two families are together.
They don’t hang out at school. They don’t sit together at lunch. They barely say “hi” to each other when they pass each other.
They politely ignore each other in public.
But my daughter remembered his birthday. So she spent the day baking and decorating cupcakes for him.
We took them over to him the night before his birthday and we sang to him and he devoured two cupcakes while we stood there and chatted.
He thanked her profusely for remembering his birthday and my daughter beamed. She told him, “Of course I know it’s your birthday.”
He hugged her and my daughter gushed afterward, “I can’t believe he hugged me. We never hug.”
Related: How to Raise Kind Kids
This act of kindness for a friend, even if it’s a boy and they can’t be “real” friends because that’s just weird (or so they tell us), brought me so much happiness.
It made the birthday boy happy.
And it made my daughter happy.
Because kindness is like that. Kindness spreads happiness in its wake.
More happiness will make the world a kinder, more loving place. And the cycle will continue.
Which is why we’re on purpose, intentionally and relentlessly teaching our kids to be kind. It’s so important to us, it’s one of our only two family rules.
How we teach our kids to be kind
Kindness doesn’t always have to be grand gestures like blue cupcakes with extra sprinkles.
Some of the most powerful acts of kindness are quiet, normal everyday kindness.
Holding the door open for the person behind you.
Helping a sibling with a chore.
Related: How to Raise Kids Who are Helpers
Offering to share the last cookie with your mom so she can have some too.
We’re still working on that one.
But other times, the larger, grand gestures are important too.
We have the Kindness Elves bring us ideas to encourage our kids to act with kindness.
And we play this Kindness Tic Tac Toe Game.
How to Play the Kindness Tic Tac Toe Game To Encourage Kindness
1. Download and print these 3 Tic Tac Toe board games (download below).
2. Pick one board to start with and encourage your kids to get three in a row by completing 3 kindness activities.
3. Once they get 3 in a row, challenge your kids to make an X on their board or to go for a “Blackout” and cross off all the kindness activities on the tic tac toe board.
4. When your kids complete one board, offer them the second board and continue until they complete all the kindness activities on the board.
As an added bonus, you can do most of these activities together as a family which is a great way to connect and build a stronger family identity.
Because the world can use more acts of kindness…
Both the big ones like surprise birthday cupcakes, and the small ones like sharing the last cookie with their Mama.