Laura Kastner, Ph.D.

Parenting Tools

K is for Kindness

kastner_80x60You know how we brought back the peace sign? And hula hoops? Well, how about bringing back the theme from the bumper sticker that promoted “Random Acts of Kindness?" Let’s do them, role model them for our children and share them on-line or even live on the radio.

My friend and a co-host of Parenting Unplugged Radio, Laura Mansfield, and I cooked up this idea a couple of weeks ago. In her blog calling for a Village Moment Movement, she invited folks to try them out and write, tweet, or call up during one of her shows and share them. Although I loved her clarion cry for this movement, she didn’t share what prompted our conversation. So, I’m going to “out” her here in order to inspire readers and expand a bit on what a “village moment” is and why they can enhance lives.

On the way to my office in a major rain squall, Laura encountered a mom struggling across the busy street with her stroller and wailing children. The mom was responding harshly to her children, because she was clearly having one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days we all have. Laura followed them into the grocery, treated them to hot soup and spent some time chit-chatting and commiserating with the mom about the inevitable hassles of parenthood.

How many of us take the time to buy hot soup for stressed-out strangers? How often do we try to help out a parent whose children are experiencing melt-downs? When was the last time you raked the horse chestnuts off the sidewalk for your neighbors so no one would fall on those nuisances? (That’s outing you too, Joan!)

Doing good deeds is good for your health, makes you feel good and is the stuff that helps glue a community together. The good feelings can even be described from a neuroscience perspective and have been identified as the “Helper’s High.” Many of us extend ourselves to folks we know or others in volunteer jobs and know this “high.” And there is a special sparkle you can feel when you cross that disconnection-chasm between yourself and a stranger in a spontaneous Village Moment. It’s random, unexpected and a little daring in our culture, which is often charged with feelings of alienation. And with recession blues all around us and low spirits descending to a notch lower than usual, the helping hand is needed but can even be distrusted. That’s why it can be a radical act.

Click here and share your Village Moment stories. We can read about each other’s moments and get ideas, get psyched and get going. The difference between a bumper sticker and an online community or a radio show is that our WiFi brains can sizzle together while sharing these great moments. We can get a pleasure jolt in the process, making it all the more likely that we do it again, and again and again!

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